University of Science and Technology parents' event ridiculed for 'babying' students
Mums and dads throng campus as critics take to social media to compare college to kindergarten
Candy Chan and Shirley Zhao
More than 3,000 people joined the first parents' day at the University of Science and Technology yesterday amid criticism that the students are clingy and their parents overly protective.
Parents who attended said they found the activity a good way to understand campus life. Not many of them were accompanied by their children.
"[Our son] would probably have found it embarrassing to come with us," said a mother who identified herself only as Mrs Law, and turned up with her husband and elder daughter.
She said her attendance did not mean she was overprotective towards her son, who has just started his first year at the university. "I'm not that worried about him being influenced by bad peers," she said.
"It's time for him to live outside his parent's protection and face the world on his own."
She said she found the parents' day informative. "I know there's nothing much I can offer in the way of help with his studies, but it's always good to get to know more," she said.
Another pair of parents, a Mrs Teng and her husband from Guangzhou, cleared their schedule for a day trip to the campus in Sai Kung, hoping to raise concerns about noise problems in their son's dormitory with the master of the residence.
"My son used to go to bed at 10pm, but he finds it difficult as his peers are making noise until very late," Mrs Teng said.
"He calls me at night, complaining his roommates are making too much noise and disturbing his sleep. I have told him to raise the problem with his accommodation hall's master, but the noise starts up again after a few minutes," she said.
The five-hour activity yesterday included welcome receptions at each of the university's four schools and two workshops for parents to learn more about campus life.
When the university sent out its invitation to parents early this month, critics said it was molly-coddling students and pandering to overprotective parents.
One internet user posting on Facebook wrote: "How sad our university is more like a kindergarten, where much aid is needed for our next generation."
The university's president, Professor Tony Chan Fan-cheong, told the South China Morning Post that it was the first time the university as a whole had held a parents' day, prompted by questions from those who accompanied their children to an orientation day.
Chan said the event was held to help parents learn about the university environment so that they would be ready to provide support for their sons and daughters.
He said it was also designed to get the message across that the parents should let their children make their own decisions.
He added that he himself had attended a parents' day when his son went to university in the United States, and that it was normal for US universities to hold parent days. "It's not news," said Chan. "It's not an issue at all."