Why it's okay to be angry as long as you express it in the right way

Susan Ramsay |

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Students protesting against Baptist University's decision to suspend two students involved in a stand-off with staff at the university's language centre.

I am writing in response to the article, “Students protest at Baptist University” (Young Post, January 29). It is about a compulsory Mandarin course that caused chaos at Baptist University (HKBU).

According to the article, two students who opposed the test introduced by HKBU last year used foul language towards university staff.

The students’ behaviour was intolerable. They have had a good education and should have behaved better. To make matters worse, one of them is the president of the HKBU student union.

They deserve to be punished but should not be expelled from university. That would be too harsh. Although their actions should be condemned, I understand what made them take such drastic measures.

The Mandarin course is very difficult, with a 30 per cent passing rate. Even the language ambassador failed the test. Also, students are upset that they have to pass it in order to graduate. It is OK to be angry, but they used the wrong methods to express their feelings.

The two students who were suspended over the campus incident have apologised to the teachers. That should be the end of the matter. Their suspension should be lifted, and they should be allowed to attend lectures and exams again.

Jessie Wu, St Paul’s School (Lam Tin)

From the editor

Thank you for your letter, Jessie. While the whole row seemed strange and unnecessary, perhaps, as you say, we can understand that people make mistakes. The students became very heated in their exchange with staff. When people become angry they don’t think very clearly and sometimes use bad language.

I’m glad you agree the students should not be expelled from the university.

But just recently Hong Kong’s police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung called for insults against police officers to be made a crime.

Swearing is a very cultural thing. While many youngsters are taught never to swear, in reality many adults do. To many people in certain Western countries, swearing is as casual as speaking. In Eastern countries, people take it as a great insult. It very much depends on how the person feels about foul language.

There is nothing special about university students that they should behave in a certain manner. Again, it is cultural. Yes they might have had years of schooling, but it really depends on the environment and their background, and, as I said, the circumstances under which they use foul language.

Susan, Editor