My Take

Don't let dreary people spoil your fun at Hong Kong universities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 12:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 12:50am

I doubt the administration of our public universities has become more corrupt. But it's an undoubted fact of life that many of their students have become much more politically active.

Some who have played a leading role in democratic struggles such as the yellow ribbon movement have now appointed themselves monitors and critics of their own universities.

I am not sure we should welcome this development. The storming of a council meeting at the University of Hong Kong last month is just an extreme example of the deadly seriousness with which some students take their monitoring role.

So I was not surprised when I read in a Ming Pao interview that the first thing Prince Wong Ji-yuet said she would do when she arrives on the campus of Lingnan University to start her studies is to start monitoring its president, Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon. The Scholarism spokeswoman said she eventually wanted to become a legislator. That would make sense, as she clearly believes it's her right and responsibility to monitor the authorities.

Her seriousness scares me. When I went to college in North America, the first things I did, besides buying books and registering for courses, was to chat up girls and figure out where the weekend parties were. I had no idea who the president was, let alone monitor him! The idea never crossed my mind. The next and last time he had contact with me was when he handed me my diploma at the graduation ceremony four years later.

Students go to university for all sorts of things, higher learning being chief among them. But they are really not there to help run it, or to keep it on the straight and narrow. There are people who do that. Just because you get a ticket to study for four years doesn't entitle you to a say in its administration other than in areas that directly affect you.

Students are not the same as citizens. A university may teach democracy, but it is not one. If you think you are entitled to a say, then taxpayers - for example, your parents - are even more deserving because they pay three-quarters of an average local student's subsidised tuition fees.

Learn, make friends and have fun. Don't let dreary people spoil the best time of your life.