Dissolving Student Unions… Who’s Next?

Upon its statement published on 7 October 2021, The Student Union of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUSU) officially dissolved, making it the second student union dissolving after the National Security Law, which was enacted on 30 June. The Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU) was the first to dissolve on 9 July, after her students were accused of endangering national security.

Dissolution of The Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU)

On 7 July, the HKUSU Council passed a motion in their Emergency Council Meeting. It was to send their condolences to Mr. Leung Kin-fai’s family, who stabbed himself to death after attacking a police officer in Causeway Bay on 1 July. The incident aroused public controversy, among which the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Secretary for Education, Mr. Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, JP, and the Secretary for Security, Mr. Tang Ping-keung, have condemned the Council. On 9 July, members of the HKUSU Council called a press conference to retract the motion, apologize to the public and announce its resignation. HKU once again “condemns the serious misconduct” of her students on 13 July, and disowned HKUSU as a registered student body in a statement.

Timeline of the dissolution of HKUSU.

On 14 July, the University demanded the Union Office be vacated from the Composite Building within 7 days, and a temporary Co-curricular Support Office (CCSO) from the Registry was set up instead. HKUSU related wordings and items were removed from the building, including the “HKUSU” stickers on the glass walls and “Union” from what was previously the “Union Photocopy Centre”.

The Union was established in 1912, serving both undergraduate and postgraduate students. In 1986, the Students’ Union Headquarters was opened and in 2021, demolished.

The HKUSU headquarters was opened in 1986. (Photo by Jasmine Choy)
Dissolution of The Student Union of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUSU)

On 25 February, CUHK issued a statement to cut ties with CUSU, after Syzygia, the only proposed cabinet, was successfully elected on 24 February. In the statement, CUHK vowed to stop “collecting student union fees on behalf of the Student Union”. It also required “the Student Union to register as an independent society or company and assume its own legal responsibility.” On 1 March, Syzygia announced its resignation at a press conference, stating that they were under enormous political pressure and some of its members had received death threats. The executive committee of CUSU was then left vacant. On 10 September, a joint conference was held to accept the resignation of other student leaders. On 7 October, CUSU issued a statement, announcing its disbandment.

On 8 October, Chinese University Student Press clarified that “the SU has not dissolved, but has merely ceased to operate.”

The Union was founded in 1971 and stopped its operation in 2021, wrapping up its 51 years of history.

Timeline of the dissolution of CUSU.
Who’s Next? Last One Standing

Among the eight UGC-funded universities, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The Polytechnic University (PolyU), and Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) are the only four universities that have candidates for their Student Unions. The Hong Kong Baptist University Students’ Union (HKBUSU) originally had a proposed cabinet of eight members, but six quit halfway. The SU was left vacant in the end. After the dissolution of HKUSU and CUSU, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students’ Union (HKPUSU) is the only Student Union that is left standing. On 12 September, HKPUSU issued a post on Instagram recruiting new executive committee members. Unless students from other universities decide to rebuild their Students’ Unions, PolyU may be the only university with an SU cabinet in the near future.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: