UST Review 2013
It was not a peaceful year for UST. The former half of the year was even in hustle and bustle, yet good news was few. The events below aroused sympathy and were related to students' rights and benefits. Nearly all of them were reported by media inside or outside our university.
SAO's Intervention into Pro P Regulation Legislation and Enforcement
SAO's Intervention into Pro P Regulation Legislation and Enforcement
Student Affairs Office (SAO) suggested restrictions on chanting and a ban on big decorations at the beginning of preparation of Promotion Period (Pro P) and sent its staff to supervise and manage during Pro P, showing its short-sighted arrangements and strong hand.
Proposed Amendments of HKUSTSU Constitution Carried
所有修憲草案於學生會第二十一次周年大會（AGM），獲得通過。當中包括仲裁委員會、公投程序、評議會主席罷免程序、迎新事務委員會（Orientation Affairs Committee）席位、修憲程序之改革。仲委會現已常設；五月已選出五位仲裁員（Judge）。
All proposed amendments of the Constitution were carried in the Students' Union 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM). They included reforms of the Court, the Referendum procedures, the procedures of removing the Council Chairperson from office, seats of Orientation Affairs Committee and the procedures of amending the Constitution. The Court has been permanent. Five Judges were elected in May.
Backroom Selection of Director of Student Affairs
In the internal recruitment of Director of Student Affairs, the University initially only consulted the and Elected SU Presidents. It delayed the decision later but did not intend to consult in public. The Elected Executive Committee did it itself, only for five days and without permission from the University to expose the details though. Students criticized it as a false consultation and worried that students' activities would be impeded if the style of the new Director of Student Affairs was tough. UST Student Affairs Concern Group initiated a joint signature declaration for that.
Hall Score Adjustments Questioned, Hall Place Allocation System Continuously in Use
學生宿位分配政策檢討組（Task Force on UG Hall Allocation Policy Review）曾公佈宿分調整方案，部分地區之分數引起爭議。同學在公開論壇亦質疑交通時間計算準則，校方表示會修改方案。校方後來決定本年度繼續沿用舊制。
Task Force on UG Hall Allocation Policy Review had announced hall score adjustments. Scores for some districts sparked disputes. Students questioned the principle of counting the travelling time in the open forum and the University claimed that the proposal would be amended. It then decided to continue using the system in this academic year.
April 29th Petition Assembly
SU and UST Student Affairs Concern Group co-organized a petition assembly and invited Dean of Students, Acting Director of Student Affairs and Associate Director. The University promised: i.) that it would send all students emails monthly to account for the amendments or formulation of university policies and promises that have not been fulfiled; ii.) that its staff would discuss CCTVs with related departments and student representatives within two weeks; iii.) that SU owns full authority of regualtion legisslation and enforcement of Pro P; iv.) that within that week it would inform all students when Executive Vice-President & Provost could meet with students before 10th May. The first, second and fourth items were fulfiled; it is hoped that the third would not change.
"Campus TV" Resolution Not Carried
An SU Full Member proposed a written requisition signed by not less than 180 Full Members with the proposed amendment of the SU Constitution with more than ten 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. Since only 343 votes were casted, less than 18% of the total Full Membership of the Union (1395 persons), the resolution was not carried.
June Fourth Prop Tank Destroyed
A student organization showed a prop tank on campus in order to let students care and know more about 1989 democracy movement, pass on its spirit and insist on its rectification. On 4th June, a youth kicked and smashed its barrel and top, threw the top to the lower floor and left soon. The police listed it as criminal damage. Seen in UST at night, the suspect was probably a UST student.
Hall I 險加設閉路電視
Additional CCTVs Almost Installed in Hall I
At the end of July, the University suddenly announced to install additional CCTVs in Hall I, claiming that student represntatives agreed. Members of UST Student Affairs Concern Group and House Association representatives made an appointment with Professor Kar Yan Tam, Dean of Students, and discuss the incident with the University. About thirty students arrived in total. The University at last laid the plan on the table and promised that it would consult students.
Business Building with a Bad Start of Use Described as a White Elephant
李兆基商學大樓（Lee Shau Kee Business Building）於秋季學期啟用，適逢暴雨，扶手電梯因而連續兩天故障，側旁樓梯沒有上蓋，同學撐傘而行，使用一條僅容兩人並肩而行的樓梯，地面濕滑，易生混亂。
Lee Shau Kee Business Building was put in use in Fall Term under a stormy weather. The escalator was thus out of order for two consecutive days. Students holding their umbrellas walked through the stairs beside, wide enough for only two persons to pass simultaneously, wihtout any cover. The floor was wet and accidents were easy to happen.
Bureaucracy Blocking Mooncake Giving
A student launced an action of giving mooncakes. Posters were posted at several places on campus to call fellow students for donation of mooncakes to give the mooncakes put and collected inside the initiator's locker to the old scavengers and the homeless, but the next day the University's staff tore the posters away and changed the password lock wihtout prior notice.
September 25th President Forum
SU and UST Student Affairs Concern Group co-organized President Forum and invited our President to discuss with students about four themes: "Academic Affairs", "University Affairs", "External Affairs" and "The Future of HKUST: Changes and Development".
Students' Protest Stopped by the University
Ma Yun, a merchant, was awarded an honorary master degree. Some students silently showing slogans on the Congregation, were stopped by security guards with force. Dissatisfied, they initiated a joint signature to condemn the University's acts and then met with the University. It said that it should trust and support the professional decisions towards sudden events made by security guards in the front, but agreed that the command and control could improve and would reflect it to Security Center. It clarified that it definitely respected and fully supported any ways to express any views. The President claimed that protests can be noticed in the future so that place can be reserved in advance.
Comments and Prospect
Over half of them are related to the University, showing its unchanged and even intensifying attitude. How will it be a good sign of next year?
In the previous conflicts, students first feel dissatisfied with the University's abuse of power or concealment. When it delayed or ignored, students intensified the conflicts and were in rage. Although it later actively contacted them and accepted their opinions, its attitude remained unchanged. A vicious cycle has been formed. Students perhaps thus directly inform mass media to gain exposure and exert pressure on the University with public attention. The University is supposed to respond in order to maintain its reputation. Help will be probably more often seeked from mass media if conflicts happen again, but beating around the bush could not work long. It will, once tired, resume his old manner and familiar tricks by showing friendiness and having empty promises to muddle through. The power of the tactic will then be used up with their morale. One should not stop until real measures and decisions come out.
Furthermore, the idea of co-governance in campus has been supported deeply. The call for the co-governance will echo on the whole campus, not only limited to Atrium. Independence is not only decision-making by yourselves but also accountability for yourselves: what liberty means is not "freedom" wihtout any borders and constraints, but the boundary between the rights of one and the others that one cannot hurt and infridge another's; responsibility goes with rights. Students' independence and co-governance are inseparable: only once students, also users of the campus, think they are also its owners, they will have a sense of belonging and are willing to contribute. The University worries that students will "abuse" liberty since co-governance? Ridiculous! Besides, the tide in the world is mighty. Followers prosper, resisters perish. The University could not repeatedly abuse its authority, intervene in students' independence and play useless tricks like an ostrich anymore. Only letting go can build mutual trust - stop tug of war.
The Referendum in the middle of the year does not represent that USTers disagree with establishment of any video-audio medium in UST; it is believed that we all hope that the determined ones can fight for it. The current SU's system is, however, sound with division of power among its bodies. Reform needs not breaking the system. It differs from the collaboration between SU President and Council Chairperson in HKU last year. Yet SU should not be missed in students' independence. In democratic elections, political parties are established as they believe a certain belief or principle, presenting their platform basedon these values to gain support from voters with similar thoughts while lacking support if they abandon voters every session. On the other hand, SU cabinets differ every session like small parties, so their platforms need not be consistent and even a year can just pass. Students should actively supervise SU; apart from consulting nominated/elected Office Bearers on election forums and AGMs, they should keep on as well to communicate with SU, attend Council meetings as observers when free and respond to surveys and consultations by the Executive Committee. The big character wall, WINGS and even HKUST Secrets page all allow expression of opinions about SU. University affair participation starts from here. If you are passionate, why not join SU? As for us, the Editorial Board, since we are commissioned by fellow students, we will surely as before spread information about our university, maintain editorial independence, protect freedom of speech, and help fellow students supervise and express speech so as to meet their expectations.
We flutter to soar higher and see more. Only for freedom we can fly in the sky to enjoy freedom. Then students' independence and co-governance in campus are not far.
2nd Call for Sleeping Outside
Two years ago, when I did not enter UST, a "sleeping outside incident" happened at the Atrium, in protest of faults of the University's hall place policies causing students with a hall score of 50 not to be able to be allocated on-camus hall places. This year the incident may happen again at any time.
Recently, it has been heard that the University planned to reform its hall place policies by guaranteeing hall residence in freshmen's first year of study once applied. According to the existing policies, after reserving some hall places for freshmen, the University accepts non-freshmen's applications and allocate places in an order of hall scores. As hall residence lasting for at least one term is guaranteed in their first year of study, their scores only determine whether it lasts for a year or a term. The newest data show that continuing students need at least 48.5 points for hall places while freshmen would be given hall residence of a year with at least 38 points.
So, "let's suppose" "in case" the University "may" have this intention (seemingly), how would be the hall place war? As they have not announced full data ever, the following numbers are just estimates. We hope you will understand.
It is known that about 1300 non-local students in total apply for hall places. 80% out of 2000 local freshmen every year do. In other words, around 1600 hall places are needed for local freshmen. With a reference of official statistics, the total number of UST's hall places (including those in HKAC) is 4264. It is then estimated that there are approximately only 1300 places for local continuing students every year.
Freshmen with hall residence of one year have at least 38 points, so the ratio between allocation for one term and that for one year respectively shuold be higher than 70%. Take it as an 80-20 ratio: about 1300 among freshmen are allocated hall residence of only one term.
Therefore, if the University implements this first year residential program, the extra demand for hall places will increase by 1300. The current number of hall places for non-freshmen is around 1800 and the cut-off of hall scores has risen to 48.5 points. The 1300 extra demand would surely lead to a rise of the cut-off to over, say, 50 points easily. In the current hall score system, the maximum of home distance is 50 points while contribution to campus life and academic achievement are independently considered. Those continuing students without outstanding academic achievement and participation in extra-curricular activities will hardly be possible to have hall places if the cut-off is higher than 50 points, even they live in Tin Shui Wai or outside Hong Kong.
相似的事，兩年前已經發生過。約三千五百個宿位（當時Hall VIII及Hall IX仍未落成）當中，校方預留逾二千一百個（六成）作兩屆新生之用，以滿足新生一學期必宿的政策需要。結果，宿分Cut-off高於五十分，大批學生不獲宿位，校方視若無睹，引發科大學生集體瞓Atrium，靜坐抗議。
A similar event happened two years ago. The University reserved 2100 (60%) out of about 3500 hall places (Hall VIII and Hall IX were not built yet) for two cohorts of newcomers in order to satisfy the need based on the policy of guaranteed one-term hall residence in the first year of study. As a result, the cut-off of hall scores was higher than 50 points that lots of students were not allocated any places. The University’s turning a blind eye drove students to sleep at the Atrium together as a sit-in protest.
History repeats anytime. On your mark, get set!
Exams in UST
We are, and have to be, used to exams. In the so-called "Asia's No.1 University", student’s perforamance can be distinguished with exams. Among all assessment methods, they seem to be the fairest and most time-saving. Yet the inappropriate arrangement has made fellow students suffer a lot.
Grade Grades Not Based on a Proper Standard
哪些課程好Grade 哪些爛Grade，似乎一直以來都是同學孜孜不倦的話題，而等級的中位數總是成為量度一個課程好或爛Grade 的標準。根據校方對本科生課程等級分佈的指引，A 等佔10% 至20%、B 等佔25% 至40%、C 等佔35% 至45%、D 等佔5% 至10%、F 等佔少於5%。所以一般而言，中位數通常出現在C+ 至B 左右。但這個指引似乎對各等所佔比例的規劃過於寬鬆，導致不同課程成績中位數相差甚大。付出相若時間精神、賺取同等學分，同學自然想拿較佳的等級，難怪會有同學埋首鑽研選課策略。
Seemingly students always discuss which courses offer good grades and which ones offer poor grades. Meanwhile the medians of grades are always a standard to determine whether they are good grade courses or poor grade courses. According to the University's guidelines of UG course grade distribution, 10% to 20% are allocated with grade A, 25% to 40% with grade B, 35% to 45% with grade C, 5% to 10% with grade D and less than 5% with grade F. So the median is generally between C+ and B. Nevertheless the planning of grade proportion in this guideline seems too loose that the medians of various courses differ a lot. It is natural that students, spending the same period of time and earning the same amounts of credits, would like to achieve better grades. No wonder some would study strategies of picking courses.
另外，該指引對派Grade 的實際操作並無約束力，變相講師可隨時跟一己喜好或主觀判斷任意決定等級比例。據聞某數學課竟將F 等派給超過20% 的同學，也聽聞某課有近半同學獲A 等。不同課程等級比例分野巨大，對選修的同學難免造成不公。每當學期末派Grade 的時候，有人為當初報得好Grade 課程而暗喜，也有人為報得爛Grade 課程而懊悔。在運氣成份下，科大成績等級系統的公信力蕩然無存，而同學對於好Grade 和爛Grade之間的討論亦永不間斷。
In addition, the guideline does not bind on the practice of allocation of grades so that lecturers can decide the grade proportion with their own preferences or subjective judgment anytime. It is heard that over 20% of students enrolled in a maths course were given grade F while nearly half of students enrolled in a course were given grade A. The vast difference in grade proportion would be unavoidably cause a feeling of unfairness. When grades are distibuted at the end of every academic term, some are happy with their choice of good grade courses while some regret with that of poor grade courses. With the factor of fortune, the credibility of UST's grade system has gone and students' discussion about good and poor grade courses has never ended.
Although it is stated that lecturers may have to face enquiries if the grade proportion deviates from normality, so few disclose it to students after grading. Students thus could not know if they are within expectation and student organizations could not supervise them one by one.
作為考生，相信大家都認同我們是具有考卷的擁有權的。哪怕是我交了白卷，卷上也有我的名字。對於講師教授，試卷可能只是測試學生的工具。為不讓舊試卷落在下一屆同學手上，每一次考完試，查了分數，試卷都不允許被帶走的。沒有Past Paper 作參考，學生很難透徹理解教學目標。譬如說，有些課程教得深入，但考得比較表面，有些內容廣闊，但重點只有那麼三五個。學生通過Past Paper，知道以往考了甚麼，就可以了解到哪些內容是重點，從而訂定最有效率的學習方法。試卷的參考價值不止於此，溫習時徹底理解上一次考核的內容，有助於鞏固舊有知識，從而促進新知識的吸收，此謂「溫故而知新」。
As exam candidates, all of us are believed to agree that we have the ownership of papers. One's name is on his or her paper even the paper is blank. For lecturers and professors, papers may be just a tool to assess students. In order not to let past papers be approached by the coming classes, one is not allowed to bring away papers after examinations and score checking. Without past papers as reference, students encounter difficulty in thorough understanding of targets of teaching and learning. For instance, some courses are taught deeply but examined superficially, while some are with broad contents but few main points. Knowing the past scope through past papers, students can know what contents are main points and thus they can set the most efficient learning methods. The value of reference of exam papers is not only limited to it: a thorough understanding about previous assessment contents during revision helps consolidate previous knowledge and hence facilitate the absorption of new knowledge.
Referring to past papers makes great contribution to fellow students. Why do lecturers collect them? Laziness is the greatest vice. As students are not able to refer to past paper questions, every year lecturers can just put identical or similar questions and do not need to come up with new ones to save effort. But should a responsible lecturer wipe out students' learning chances for convenience?
A Break Coming Late
UST's UG curriculum is very tense; each regular term consists of thirteen weeks. Under the pressure of compact lecturing, pre-exam vacations are important. With students' reflection of opinions, the University finally carried out a seven-day study break before final examinations this academic year. It is four days more than before. However, generally it is midterm but not the end of a term when students bear the most academic pressure and are busiest. While dealing with midterm exams, students have to attend lessons and submit various homework and reports. Last term, I had to deal with three midterm exams, one quiz, one written report and one oral report within a week. The tiredness is beyond words.
秋季學期，校方沒有設置Midterm Break，令不少同學吃盡了苦頭。到春季學期，Midterm Break 千呼萬喚始出來： 由四月十六日至廿一日一連六日，沒錯，是在大家都考完Midterm，才有假放。
In Fall Term, the University did not establish a midterm break, making many students suffer. In Spring Term, Midterm Break appears finally. It consists of 6 consecutive days from 16th to 21st April - right, we will have holidays after midterm exams.
眾所周知，科大期末考較期中考相對輕鬆，其實只要將學期末Study Break 的其中兩至三日調至學期中，在不影響授課進程的情況下，同學的苦況將得以紓緩。
As we all know, UST's final examinations are less demanding than midterm exams. Actually, once two to three days in Study Break are moved to midterm and the progress of teaching is not affected, students' burdens will be alleviated.
Grade E Disappearing
科大的成績主要由ABCDF 五等十一級組成，D 或以上為合格，F 為不合格，若必修課程考獲F，則須重修該課。對於一些僅僅差一點合格的同學，再用一個學期重修課程可是個極之沉重的打擊，既浪費時間，又拖慢進度。
UST’s results are mainly formed with five ranges and eleven letter grades composed of A,B,C,D and F. Grades above D mean Pass and F means Failure. If one gets F in a core course, he or she must retake it. It is a heavy blow for those who almost pass to retake in another term that it wastes time and slows down his or her progress.
大家有否想過D 之下是F，E 去了哪？翻查舊的本科生守則「Regulations Governing Undergraduate Studies」， 原來過去是有E 的。D 為Marginal Pass，F 為Fail， 而E 則為Conditional Failure。據這份文件所述，成績得到E 等的同學可在兩星期後參加補考，而透過補考，表現較好的同學有機會獲得合格。這個補考制度為不少不合格的同學帶來希望。該同學可於下一學期前把不合格的科目變為合格，以免浪費重修時間或延遲畢業。可惜這個科大鮮有的人性化制度在筆者入學前已被取消。
Have you ever thought where grade E goes when grade F is below grade D? Grade E was included in the previous “Regulations Governing Undergraduate Studies”. Grade D meant Marginal Pass, F meant Failure and E meant Conditional Failure. As this document stated, students with a grade E could sit in supplementary examinations after two weeks. Those who perform better may pass with the aid of supplementary examinations. This system brought hope to many who failed. A student could pass the subject he or she had failed before the next term so that he or she would not waste time restudying or have his or her graduation postponed. It is a pity that such a rarely student-friendly system in UST was cancelled already before my admission.