Disputes in the Referendum regarding "Campus TV"
上年春季學期，僅僅四個月，科大已經熱鬧非常。先有學生事務處（SAO）越權管理學生選舉活動；再有仲裁委員會常設化修憲；接着有同學自組學生事務關注小組，發起聯署及公開論壇，爭取實現「校園共治」。不過，要數歷時最長的，可謂「校園電視公投風波」。科大學生會，一直維持四權分立原則，轄下有約一百個屬會，享高度自治，成就科大多元學生活動。傳媒方面，則有四大架構之一的「編委會」（即本報負責機關）及一屬會「科大電台」。今年五月，有基本會員SUN Kai Man James（下稱孫氏），蒐集超過一百八十名基本會員的聯署，連同長達十三頁的學生會憲章修訂條文，提交幹事會，發動公投，要求成立「校園電視」，並將之列為第五大架構。不過，由於投票票數僅343，不足會員人數18%（即1395 人），修憲議案最終不獲通過。然而，本會估計「校園電視」可能於不久的將來捲土重來，故特別製作此特輯，希望有助各位了解此事的來龍去脈。
UST was already in hustle and bustle within Spring Term last academic year, lasting for only 4 months, experiencing the act of Student Affairs Office (SAO) in excess of terms of reference to regulate student elections first, the amendment of the SU Constitution about building the permanency of the Court then, and the joint signature declaration and the open forum fighting for “co-governance in campus” originated by Students’ Affairs Concern Group formed by students on their own afterwards. The disputes in the Referendum regarding “Campus TV”, however, lasted for the longest period. HKUSTSU, remaining the principle of four separate powers, and its affiliate societies with a high degree of authority, about 100 in total, have contributed to diverse student activities. UST’s media include the Editorial Board (i.e. the body in charge of this Freshman Edition), one of the four bodies of the SU, and People's Campus Radio, an affiliate society. In May this year, a Full Member Sun Kai Man James (stated as Sun hereinafter) proposed a written requisition signed by not less than 180 Full Members with the proposed amendment of the SU Constitution of 13 pages, calling for a Referendum for establishment of “Campus TV” and listing it as the SU’s fifth body, and submitted it to the Executive Committee. Yet, since only 343 votes were casted, less than 18% of the total Full Membership of the Union (1395 persons), the resolution was not carried. However, it is expected that a comeback of “Campus TV” will be made soon possibly. This article is thus written especially for you to understand the event’s development.
方案蘊釀期間，提案人於Facebook 及Atrium 派發過不同的宣傳刊物。本會旨在就提案人士的宣傳刊物，特別是份量最重的小冊子，逐字破謬，我們亦會以香港大學校園電視作參照。小冊子可算是精彩絕倫，當中包含校園電視台之介紹，論述科大為何需要校園電視，還附有修憲內容，中英對照，圖文並荗，如付諸實行，規模有如成立一個香港免費電視臺，免費電視臺為市民望之心切，這使編委非報道不可。可惜的是當大家興高采烈地期待校園電視時，提案人SUN Kai Man James 卻向本會幹事表示他們只志於修憲成立校園電視架構，不一定擔任校園電視幹事，故宣傳品介紹校園電視臺眾多特點及功能，有顯突兀，不曉得有否其他目的。
During the incubation of the motion, the proposer distributed a variety of promotion publications on Facebook and at Atrium. The fallacies would be refuted word by word based on the promotion publications of the proposer, especially the leaflet which has the greatest quantity, with reference to Campus TV, HKUSU. The leaflet is so fantastic that it includes the introduction to Campus TV, the arguments about why UST needs a campus television, and the proposed amendment of the Constitution, in both Chinese and English and with both words and pictures. If all is floated that the scale is like a free television’s in Hong Kong, the Editorial Board must report it as our citizens have longed for a free television. It is a pity that when everyone hopes for a campus television in great delight, the proposer SUN Kai Man James claimed that they were only devoted to the establishment of the campus television body but they might not hold the posts of its executive committee members. It is thus abrupt that the promotion materials introduced many characteristics and functions of the campus television and it is unknown if there are other objectives.
小冊子中有關「我們的承擔與抱負」一章，羅列比亞洲電視更要多的影音服務，新聞臺記錄臺吹水臺，時事追擊校花校草人物檔案，節目多得就算要重播也多采多姿。放送渠道亦頗為驚人，3D 眼鏡、內聯網廣播，甚至自設電視頻道及手提電視流動站，還有自家影音房，令筆者最為動心就是播放歐聯賽事，雖則筆者正考慮申請有線電視，再者學生宿舍已設有線電視以供直播歐聯賽事，但假若能透過校園電視觀賞歐聯賽事，配上3D 眼鏡，除免費外，不但不用收聽有線評述員，更不必為日後終止有線服務而煩惱，實為一大功績。
The chapter “Our Responsibilities and Ambition” in the leaflet showed audio-video services, more than ATV’s, such as News Channel, Record Channel, Chit-Chat Channel, News Magazine, and Campus Belle and Campus Hunk Profiles. There were so many programmes that it would be so amazing even though they would be reviewed. Suggested ways to broadcast were also quite astounding, including 3D glasses, Intranet broadcast, own-set channels, mobile TV broadcast sites and an audio-video room of their own. The broadcast of UEFA Champions League matches would be the most attractive service. One of the writers was considering about applying for Cable TV (notorious for its unfriendly attitude) and live broadcast by Cable TV has been already provided in halls. However, it would be an achievement if we could wear 3D glasses watching the matches through Campus TV without price, commentary on Cable TV and trouble caused by terminating the service provided by Cable TV.
We can briefly say that the production as such is nearly practicable for a team of twenty-something members in the University.
Let’s not discuss whether Campus TV should be included as SU’s fifth body first. With integration of the proposer’s viewpoints, it was said that the establishment of Campus TV was due to the need of recording, reporting, supervision and broadcast, but in the existing system the first three needs have been fulfilled and improvement regarding mistakes, if any, could be made. For instance, to let students gain information about meetings of the Council, the Editorial Board has already sufficient written reports. The minutes done by the Secretary of the Council in the existing system could also be referred for a complete review. If one would like a live broadcast or audio-video review, he or she might request the Council to buy a digital recorder. The Council provided online live broadcast of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) last year and the SU Election Forum this year too, so there will be no technological misgivings. Councilors and the Editorial Board (with 2 ex-officio seats) would supervise the Secretary to prevent any worries about malpractice of the Secretary. Relevant administrative articles could be set up further. In case students think that literal reports are not enough to satisfy their demands fully, they may suggest amendments of the Constitution about setting up “Audio-Video Division of Editorial Board” for video reports, just like Next Media Animation whose content is mostly from Apple Daily. In addition, it is said that People's Campus Radio has been planning for audio-video development, which overlaps Campus TV's "programmes". If the proposer had wished to let Campus TV establish, he would have been possible to gain support from students by listing its exclusive duties, which other sub-organizations of the SU could not fulfill concurrently. For instance, the Council is to supervise other sub-organizations and approve the finance with involvement of Popularly Elected Office Bearers while the Executive Committee could not do the above concurrently.
The proposer’s side posted an article called “From ‘UST Records’ to ‘Document Law’: Who are Responsible to Record the History?” on Facebook as well. The article criticized directly that the Editorial Board and the Executive Committee managed the documents improperly, claimed that “UST Records” could be their example in this aspect, and emphasized that someone would be needed to record the history. In the article, “Document Law” was even cited as an example to support the viewpoints. Nevertheless, a straw man argument and a logical fallacy might be involved. Even the Editorial Board can manage its own publications for internal reference, it does not need to provide consultation service and lend members the documents for internal use all the time. As mentioned in the article, documents from various sources should be managed by the same organization, such as Library, and grouped into a database for users’ reference. In addition, the word “document” in “Document Law”, in general, refers to official records of actual events like minutes, posters, etc. But “Document Law” was extended to support that UST needs an audio-video department to record collective memories for students, such as Promotion Period and clips about campus affairs, leading to a logical fallacy of irrelevance and a straw man argument.
將校園電視定為第五大架構 Setting Campus TV as the Fifth Body
The Referendum meant to establish Campus TV and also set it as the fifth body of the Union, listing with the existing Executive Committee, Council, Court and Editorial Board. The proposer’s side thought: that there were shortcomings in the operation of the current four powers and setting Campus TV as a SU’s body could improve the operation; that, financially speaking, the operation capital of Campus TV would be more abundant so that it would alleviate its financial burden and even avoid a financial crisis then; and that a medium could supervise and have a greater effect if it becomes a SU’s body.
Here, let’s analyze and discuss the above points one by one:
First, if Campus TV is set as the fifth body only because the operation of the four powers is not perfect enough, then there may be cycle between “the imperfection of the operation of the bodies” and “setting another body”. Once such a precedent is set, other organizations can use this as an excuse for circular reasoning as if they use the problem to explain the problem per se to set the sixth, seventh … body. Furthermore, if it is put into practice, the bodies will be redundant and the efficiency would be lowered.
Second, there should be – and now there has been, despite the means of reporting – at least one public-owned organization to publish and notice students about information about the University and the SU. Campus TV would seem to have no other features if it only has the above duties after its establishment.
Third, mass media can be divided into the public-owned and the private-owned, responsible for the public and the investors respectively. Similarly, mass media in the University may not have to be accountable to the whole university. It could be like People's Campus Radio (stated as the Radio hereinafter) that it is an affiliate society accountable to its own members while allowing others to listen to their programmes.
Fourth, it is unreasonable if the Referendum had been called for to amend the Constitution only because of more capital. Public resources determine public interests and the whole, long-term operation of the Union and thus they should be used properly. According to the budget of the proposer’s side, if “Campus TV” had become the fifth body, it would be estimated that an increase in 30% of the SU fee is required to maintain its operation. Furthermore, the budget would be approved only when the Council thinks that the item is worth spending. Therefore, even if “Campus TV” had become a body, the Council would not always agree to grant the funding to make its operation capital abundant. The claim of the proposer’s side may be a wishful thought that was too optimistic.
Fifth, it is not a must to be a body of the SU to monitor. For instance, the Executive Committee has no power to control the editing of campus media with administrative measures, so campus media could exert their power to monitor the Executive Committee’s performance. Affiliate societies enjoy autonomy and can appeal to the Court in case they face any suppression. The Council controls the finance of the bodies but not affiliate societies. Also, SU Full Members can interrogate the administration of the bodies and consider about calling for a Referendum to remove the SU of the particular Union session or relevant Office Bearers from office if they think any Office Bearer of any SU body has committed misconduct. The public can be observers in meetings of the Council.
In short, the bodies and affiliate societies differ in SU resources, rights, accountability to the whole university, etc. The greater the ability and rights are, the greater the responsibilities are. Campus TV must state its duties and functions and explain why it must be the fifth body first in order to become one of the bodies. It can be observed that supervising the four bodies is an unconvincing reason for the proposer’s side. The conditions to be the fifth body, i.e. the advantages overwhelming other student organizations to become the fifth body, should be considered instead.
應否以公投方式成立 Whether it should be Established by a Referendum
The disputes caused by the Referendum did not only focus on the content of the proposal but also the Referendum per se. The proposer’s side chose to call for the Referendum, i.e. to amend the Constitution by the Referendum to establish Campus TV and list it as the fifth body. However, it is not the only choice while the Referendum has the following problems:
Regarding the amendment of 13 pages, its every single word and sentence should not be ignored, because the entire amendment may be provoked by the Court once there is any grammatical mistake. Also, according to Article 5.1 in the SU Constitution, once a resolution is passed by a Referendum, it possesses the ultimate authority. Such resolution passed can only be revoked by a subsequent Referendum. In case the amendment with any mistake or omission is improperly handled and passed, the consequences would be severe.
Overall, it only takes one, after thinking a bit more, to understand that the Referendum was actually with binding, not only the binding between the directions of two issues in the Referendum, but also that between the directions and details of each issue.
Discuss the former first. Obviously, as mentioned, the Referendum was based on the proposal of amendment of the Constitution by the proposer’s side, which main idea was to establish Campus TV and list it as the fifth body. The proposer’s side brought about the two issues together. But the problem is that there is no certain correlation between whether one supports Campus TV and whether Campus TV becomes the fifth body, let alone cause-and-effect relationship. To support Campus TV does not stand for agreeing that it should be the fifth body. The two needs distinguishing but should not be mixed up or even bound. Speaking of this act, one should vote separately regarding the two issues i.e. whether Campus TV shall be established and whether it shall become the fifth body, while binding should not exist in a Referendum.
Then the latter. Even though one agrees with the directions and essential points of both issues, he or she may not entirely agree with the proposed amendment of the Constitution in the Referendum. The amendment was of 13 pages. To pass, one has to agree with every single word and sentence describing the details in those 13 pages but could not compromise even he or she does not agree entirely. The Referendum became a zero-sum game: all or nothing.
Also, as Sun said, the amendment of the Constitution was intended for only the structure of the SU. Imperfect, the proposed amendment still stated the construction and duties. The proposer’s side had no other actions though. As they did not make up a list of the executive committee members, nobody would have been the executive committee members if the proposed “Campus TV” had been established, let alone those in the next Union session. In its promotion materials the proposer’s side mentioned its future guiding principles but not a year plan with exact time.
It is mentioned above that to achieve the aim of the proposer’s side, amendment of the Constitution in the Referendum to set up Campus TV and list it as the fifth body is not the only way. Here some other plans are shown for you to compare the pros and cons.
Plan A: propose amendments of the Constitution in a General Meeting (GM). This plan is more flexible as room for discussion and time for audience to consult the proposer are provided. Not only can it allow amendments of the Constitution, but also nominate students to be the executive members. The building of the permanency of the Court was fulfilled by the amendment of the SU Constitution in the GM not a long time ago.
Plan B: set up Campus TV as an affiliate society and then decide whether it is necessary to become the fifth body after some time. The aforementioned Radio can be of reference.
Plan C: set up Campus TV as an independent organization not affiliated with the SU, the status of which is then determined by Referendum, GMs, etc. For instance, although USTProgress aims to be an affiliate society and does not intend to become a SU’s body, it is worth following that USTProgress has organized activities to show its position, step by step with its clear aims.
As the proposer, not an executive committee member of any student organizations, lacked experience and materials, it was not easy for him to call for a Referendum with his several peers in such a short time. His preeminent willpower was worth increased respect. However, speaking fairly, the Referendum had many points to improve and reflect. One may learn from the experience no matter he or she is the initiator of the following Referendum or the executive committee members of other student organizations.
1. 公眾諮詢不足 Insufficient Consultation
The “Campus TV” during proposing held only one open “meeting of consultation and recruitment of executive committee members” on 15th April. As the poster listed “Responsibilities and Ambition”, it was shown that the meeting was not to invite those interested to discuss and decide the directions and duties of an ideal “Campus TV”. Instead, the proposer set frameworks and aims in the beginning already and would like to recruit those who agreed with his ideas. Although it was not ideal, it still allowed discussion with the public. Still, a lot of students showed reservation towards Sun’s plan with arguments in that “meeting”. Also, the proposer’s side proposed an amendment of the Constitution of 13 pages and called for a Referendum regarding that within half a month, which was insufficient. Although whether it was sufficient or not depends on people’s minds, but the requirements for establishing an affiliate society and even those of becoming an executive committee should be referred. Generally, there are more than 20 members in each executive committee accountable to all members in UST. With the operation pattern running for a long time as their reference, the executive committee members still needed about three weeks for promotion including two election forums for the public of totally 14 hours. A GM was held for members to consult to learn about the policies further. The Ex-Chairperson of the Council, executive committee members of the Radio and other members stated their worries about the “Campus TV” plan, but the proposer called for a Referendum without responses, making one feel as if consultation was insufficient.
2. 主見過強 Sticking to Their Opinion
The proposer talked to the Office Bearers of every SU’s body and Councilors, asking all the bodies about opinions. They coincidently stated the above shortcomings for several times, including the position of “Campus TV”, the way of the Referendum, etc., making no effort at all that the proposer still repeatedly said that he did not understand the worries, though. A Councilor met the proposer’s side for several times within a week to explain relevant problems from various perspectives, while the proposer’s responded with the same answer, no matter what the question was, and reaffirmed that Campus TV must be nothing but a body. Other executive committee members and Councilors had similar problems, feeling that “consultation” could not do much.
3. 宣傳失焦 Out-of-focus Promotion
As mentioned in last paragraph, the proposer did have difficulties in promotion without enough manpower and materials, but persuasion should not be limited to the cost. But the persuasion, out of focus, could not be specific to and answer the questions raised by those who questioned: why “Campus TV” needed to be the fifth body was seldom explained; why a Referendum was used to establish “Campus TV” was not answered. The materials only promoted the programmes after the establishment of “Campus TV” and focused on the advantages, ignoring the most basic and the most fatal point – the proposer’s side, as they explained, only called for the amendment but did not fulfill duties of executive committee members. Voters might think that they could enjoy programmes as many as mentioned in the leaflet, while the proposer’s side needed not bear any responsibility. Not only did the out-of-focus promotion fail to solve the disputes in the Referendum, but also probably raise greater problems.
4. 不當方式收集簽名 An Improper Way to Collect Signatures
The amendment was 13 pages long. Extra pages were provided for Full members to sign. The ones who collected signatures should have told the cosigners the property of the document while the signers should have also known its property before signing indeed, but some did not explain the use clearly. A Full Member said that a collector only asked if he supported Campus TV, not knowing that document was the cosignatory document for a Referendum but not simply a general document for petitions. He did not even know that it would be related to any amendment of the Constitution.
5. 公投日佈置違規 Illegal Decorations on the Days of the Referendum
It is understood that the proposer’s side needed to promote the Referendum, without rights of executive committee members of societies, could not book for promotion locations and thus used expedients. But the proposer’s side defied usual practice that they held a banner about the Referendum at places which need booking, stuck super-size paper on the floor, and even held an irrelevant French national flag. Our members stated to Sun, the proposer, that they were illegal decorations and if would have been hard to handle once other affiliate societies had followed. Sun claimed that he would clear all these only when the University staff stopped him. At last, the University received complaints. Its staff was especially sensitive to the flag and asked his intention for several times. “Some French admired me quite much, so they just gave me a French national flag.” said Sun.
6. 文宣傳意能力 Communicability of the Promotion Materials
It could improve.
Dreams are never far away. Something wrong always exists in details, though. “The sky’s the limit.” We hope that if you freshmen are determined to establish a campus television, be brave to fly high. Meanwhile, refer to the previous experience, manage to think more and do more, and make the dream come true.
某年某月某日，我在Atrium 大電視看到女神的熟悉面孔，在Canteen 收到BBC 英女皇的News、在商學院看文藝片、在LC 與環球學生相知、在24 小的節目時便利店收看王維基、在手機追擊President 的外遇、在Hall 拍攝玻璃之城、在動新聞又見蘋果抄我橋……
Television, you direct your vision!
Referendum, on May 15th,
Now is the time!