The International Board regarding changes to staff contracts at LPC UWC

United World Colleges (International) is aware of the article published in the South China Morning Post concerning comments made following changes to staff contracts at Li Po Chun United World college of Hong Kong and in particular about the treatment of same-sex marriages within the context of staff contracts.

The mission of the United World Colleges is to use education as a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Such a mission makes it clear that the organisations aims to effect change and this commitment to change will from time o time create a tension with the status quo in all parts of the world. UWC International and each of the United World colleges are aware of the tension that can exist between UWC’s ideals and values on the one hand, in particular its commitment to the celebration of difference and the respect of human and individual rights that is implicit in that value, and on the other hand local legal requirements and cultural sensitivities in the countries where the colleges are located.

Issues connected with contractual and related matters must necessarily be issues for individual College governing bodies and they will be bound where appropriate by laws relevant in their jurisdictions.

However, the United World Colleges International Board of Directors reaffirms its absolute commitment to the objectives of the Mission statement and the values contained in its Statement of Values & Principles.

The UWC International Board supports the board of Li Po Chun UWC as it deals with issues arising from its need to have in place policies and contracts which are consistent with Hong Kong law and practice.

There has also been discussion about an article relating to the concentrated issue at Li Po Chun United World College not being published in United World magazine. This was addressed in October 2007 when it was clarified that the remit of the magazine is not to serve as a vehicle for discussion. At the same time, the International Board does also recognise the need for the UWC community to debate in appropriate forums issues of concern within the movement.

Keith Clark (Executive Director of UWC) on behalf of the International Board of United World Colleges

– United World College Student Magazine –

5 thoughts on “The International Board regarding changes to staff contracts at LPC UWC

  1. It is interesting to read that the change in the contract depended on . However, no legal problem arose from the previous definition of marriage stated in the teachers’ contract (which said that any couple married in Hong Kong or abroad is recognized by the school as such).
    So why did the International Board support a change in the contract to which the only explanation is the unjustified fear of losing sources of funding?
    Aren’t we giving up a bit too much of our idealism regarding the respect of human and individual rights?

  2. I completely agree. the article says how it supports the LPC board as there is a “need to have in place policies and contracts which are consistent with Hong Kong law and practice.” including same sex marriages would still be consistent (or at least wouldn’t go against) HK laws…..

  3. Frankly, I feel that the International Board is not serving as a very good example to all UWC students around the world. I expected all our elders in the UWC movement to practice what they preach to us. If they don’t demonstrate what they believe in through supporting things that reflect UWC values, I do not see why they should expect us to go out into the world and do it either.
    There’s a proverb in my mothertongue that literally translated would read, “No one steals with a baby on their back”. It basically means that whatever you do around anyone who looks up to you, be sure it’s something you want them to learn, because they will certainly copy you.
    To all our elders in the UWC movement: We are watching and we are learning…

  4. It is well shown that the International Board disregard any aspects of discrimination that are explicitly present in the NEW contract.
    The law in Hong Kong does not take the ability of institutions, such as LPC UWC, to determine the way they define marriage. The fact that HK is not liberal enough to allow this, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are against organizations that support it.

    For instance, I’m sure that if a company such as Google, will want to give the same benefits to Same-sex couples it will not be prevented in HK. The marriage will not be approved by the government, but the company, and in our case, the UWC organization, has the option to give equal rights to all human-beings.

    If the UWC needs to confirm to the ‘law of land’ would it:
    1. Let Jewish people die in Germany, in case that we had a UWC at the time of the Nazi rule?

    2. Will it give fewer rights to Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians, then Jewish-Israeli, if we had a UWC in Israel?

    3. Will it discriminate against Hispanic in the USA UWC? Just because they are discriminated by the USA government?

    4. Will it prevent from Venetian people to speak their language (dialect) in Public places, just because the official language of Italy is ONLY Italian?(In the UWC in Italy)

    5. In case we will have a UWC in Australia, will it commit ‘Rape examination’ and ‘Alcohol Check-ups’ only on Aboriginal students? Because that is what the government is doing?

    Those examples are a bit off-topic, the topic of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. BUT it does raise the question of: Where did our sense of ‘Idealism’ go?

    I don’t expect the International Board to ‘Spank’ the LPC board, although they should. I expect them the minimal – To at least say ” Same-Sex rights are important to us as a UWC, and we expect you, as the UWC board of LPC, to do your best in order to ensure that non of your students or staff, will be discriminated only because of his\her sexual orientation.”

    Furthermore, i would expect the International Board to ask the advice of a lawyer. As they will find out that allowing equal rights for Same-sex people is not against any law in HK. In fact, they should ask themselves why did the clause changed all the sudden?…I’m sure it is not because they discovered that we have gay people in LPC UWC…because if they took 15 years to see that…they are really blind.

    Until now, the international board response was Impotent, Lacking of Ideals, Lacking of Critical thinking, Lacking of emotion, and lacking of Visionary.

  5. There is some questions that I think need to be asked.
    Finally we got attention from several UWCs that are totally sympathetic and even are trying to help us in some ways…I wonder:

    What is an “appropiate forum of discussion”?
    I agree totally with Yam: “Where did our idealism go?”
    What is suitable to come out in the UWC magazine [United World]?
    As we got the International Board committed to the values and mission of the UWC, how does this guarantee and help their fullfillment?

    According to my perception, which might be wrong, UWC is not just about the international environment. UWC is a place, and idea of understanding and acceptance. But also UWC is a motif, an icon and stymulus of struggle and work for a common purpose: armony, friendship, NO DISCRIMINATION, personal development, among others….My question is:
    As uwcers we are suppossed to work our way to the fullfillment of the goals that we came looking for, but now there seems that there is no pad to get them. In the UWC spirit, should we try until we see them done, or are we compelled to just agree and quit?…

    As a final note:

    “…Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world.”
    Kurt Hahn

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