A revolution in student halls

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 May, 2010, 12:00am

The growing number of female undergraduates at the University of Hong Kong has led to a small revolution in the social life of its student halls, leaders of the student affairs office say.

Male and female students used to be strictly segregated into different floors in student halls at HKU, with students barred from visiting the dorm of the opposite sex during the night.

But admission of more women forced the university to revise its policy and convert some male-only floors to accommodate both sexes, said director of campus life Patrick Tang Hay-tim.

'At St John's College, for example, we have converted one of our male floors into a male and female floor,' he said. 'In mixed floors, they insert a door in the middle of the corridor, which is never locked because of safety precautions.'

The university's golden rule that 'men and women must not visit the dorm of the opposite sex after 11pm or 12am at night until 7am to 8am' applied to single sex and mixed floors.

'These mixed floors are a breakthrough in the tradition of student hostel arrangements. We don't employ extra wardens on these floors because it is not necessary. We rely on the students' own self-discipline. Chinese society used to be very conservative and it was required for students to be on different floors. But society is getting more enlightened.'

The move, which was part of the university's 'whole-person education process', was intended to encourage the students to 'grow and develop their social skills' and they had been consulted about it. 'At first some of the students did have reservations about mixed floors,' he said. 'But now they have experienced it, most students support the arrangement because they find it is working well. Today, students are more open-minded in the sense that they tend to respond to the other gender quite well.'