A current student at Li Po Chun UWC commenting on the recent events:
The recent protests about the expulsions at LPCUWC, contrary to what our principal seems to think, are not merely protests about the expulsions themselves, but were an accumulation of injustices and bad governance over the past year.
Throughout the year, we as a student body, have been trying to change or amend some of the current rules at LPCUWC through dialogue and the SCC (Student Consultative Committee) without much, if any success or cooperation from the receivers of our suggestions. The student body is highly concerned about the ambiguity with which the rules are presented. We have repeatedly been ignored or even scolded on our questioning of the vagueness of the rules.
The rules, we are told, are kept vague to enable a teacher seeing a student(s) in a questionable situation, to judge whether or not the situation is indeed an offence to the rules. This may sound like it may be an advantage to the students, but a lot of the time, at least in my experience, the teacher’s own judgement is not used and if it is, more often than not, it is not used for the benefit of the student – as was the case for the couple that was expelled.
To give you an idea of what happened: at around 4:25am there was a room raid. I am not sure whether or not other UWC’s have this tradition, but I will explain what happens anyway; sometime in the early morning (usually around 3 or 4 am), some teachers are forced out of their beds to check all the different student rooms. The teacher’s have a master key and they enter with a flashlight in order to check that everyone is sleeping in their own beds. Personally I find this a huge invasion of my privacy, let alone a frightening and disturbing experience if I am unfortunate enough to be awake at the time. In the couple’s case, the boy was not in his bed, in fact he was standing up next to it, the girl however was. It was assumed that they had been sleeping together which thus warranted a strike and their subsequent expulsions.
Although, most probably the students had been sleeping together prior to the teacher’s entering the room, at the time though, it was not exactly “inappropriate” or “sexual” intimacy and expelling the two students on the assumption that this was the case, three weeks prior to the end of the IB exams, is in my eyes at least, completely unnecessary and a rather bitter thing to do.
Throughout the year, similar incidents (similar in that they involved the sexual intimacy rule) occurred, however no expulsions were made (the students had had less than 3 strikes). This event was the breaking point for many of the students here and action was finally taken in the form of a peaceful protest.
The expulsions have destroyed any good feeling of college atmosphere and replaced it with anger, sadness and hate. It has caused a huge amount of infuriated accusations, it has split the community to such an extent where it is almost dangerous to show “which side you’re on”, and of course, last but definitely not least, it has ruined many second year’s study patterns, which is essential as it is so close to examination time. It is not exactly a happy place to be right now and needless to say, I will be happy to turn my back on this place.
There are two main things that I think should be done:
1. There should be a clarification of certain rules (most notably the sexual or inappropriate intimacy rule)
2. There should be a way for students to remove a strike (such as by doing campus service or extra service for an extended period of time)
I do not think that either of these things is impossible to accomplish, nor do I see them as outrageous.
As for the student’s anger against the principal, although a matter that has not been the focus of this letter, is in short because of this: he is the one that sanctioned the expulsions – he made a conscious decision to cause all the above mentioned problems. Apart from this incident, throughout the year he has not been communicating with the students, nor has he stimulated the college in any visible way. He is, it seems, either spending college money being up in the air collecting sick bags and increasing the size of his carbon footprint, or down on the ground logging his adventures in utmost detail on his website (http://web.mac.com/scodrington/Site/Welcome.html). He has not been where he is needed most, which is at the college. Whenever I have gone to talk to him personally about making changes to the school, he has flatly told me he cannot change anything and that the board is the one I should be talking to.
His saying that he is not able to change anything is something I refuse to believe, and me going to the board is a waste of my time as I am not supposed to go to the board myself and they do not open letters written by students without the principals consent, (many students have gone before me and have had no reply) – not even the SCC can sway any opinion. It should be the principals’ job then to help voice the concerns of the students, because surely a college and its principal must care about its students? I may be wrong of course. I most sincerely hope I am not.
-United World College Student Magazine-