Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Student Societies

This is a ritual repeated across university campuses in Hong Kong each year.  Students who want to form the new committee of a student society are grilled and often harassed by “old ghosts”, members of the current and former committees.  I have listened to some of the questioning and the old ghosts are often merciless.  And they do this not just for an hour or two, but for whole days and overnight.  There is little or no audience to the proceedings.  Many people wonder whether this ritual may be too its much.  

The grilling of the new committee is apparently for the purpose of training them for the work ahead, how to develop proposals for events, apply for funding, organise events, etc.  Some societies do organise interesting events.  But I have known some societies whose main activities through the year seem to consist of the orientation camp, making of the society jacket, election of new committee, annual dinner, and little else.

Sitting in a society committee is apparently one of the must-dos for university life.  But for some of the students the cost is almost unbearably high. And the return is uncertain.  I have encountered many students who performed poorly academically, and have to be de-registered, kicked out of university.  And one of the main reasons they give for failing to attend classes and catching up with their studies is that they spent too much time in society committees.  

I remembered one particular student who was supposed to be kicked out according to the guidelines.  He appealed, failed, and appealed again.  In the end we felt he was a reasonable students who lost his way and decided to give him a second chance.  He did work hard and graduated with fairly good grades.  But we felt he could have graduated with flying colours had he worked reasonably hard from the beginning.  

Most of the others in his situation were less fortunate.  

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