Our responsibility to act: the climate crisis will eclipse the pandemic unless we do
The Vice-Chancellor / President’s Blog
In the past few weeks, CUHK was severely challenged. The series of conflicts and incidents on campus presented serious hardship for all members of the University, which could in fact last for some time to come. I was taken ill and admitted to hospital on 16 November but thankfully, with the care of our medical professionals, I have recovered and am now fully engaged in my responsibilities at CUHK. While in the hospital, I was kept continuously informed of the progress on the campus restoration work resulting from the great efforts of our colleagues. I also received a large number of well wishes from many people. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all well-wishers for their caring and regard.
I realise that CUHK members are very concerned about recent incidents on campus. On 15 November, in view of safety concerns arising from the severe conflicts, I issued an open letter to urge all individuals still on campus to immediately evacuate. Thanks to the relentless and tireless endeavours of colleagues and friends from various sectors of the community, the situation eventually ended peacefully. I understand that many members of the University had to leave the campus under urgent and distressed circumstances, causing disruption to learning and professional as well as personal activities of many. On behalf of the University, I would like to express my sincere apology to the students, staff and their families who were affected by the evacuation.
Like all of you, I truly hope to see the campus fully restored as soon as possible, and the health and safety of University members safeguarded. The most seriously affected areas surrounding Campus Circuit East near the No. 2 Bridge and offices nearby have been cordoned off. In order to enhance security, access to campus via all entrances and exits are now subject to appropriate provisional management measures. After inspecting the campus and assessing the risks involved, the relevant CUHK officers and unit heads have arranged their frontline staff to carry out clean-ups and restorations, including repairing roads and pavements, clearing barricades and debris, inspecting and clearing hazardous substances with the assistance of government departments, and removing and repairing damaged school buses and University vehicles. We have also arranged workshops for staff on the protection of health and safety, explaining to colleagues and drawing their attention to matters related to campus cleaning and providing them with proper protective gears and equipment.
To ensure environmental safety, the University has appointed an independent accredited laboratory which has collected air, water, and environment surface samples from different locations and at different times on campus. The samples are being analyzed, and we will release the test results immediately upon receipt of the report.
Upon the announcement of early termination of the semester, the Registry has immediately liaised with all Faculties to formalize the academic arrangements for teaching and learning, taking into consideration the views and needs of teaching staff and students, in order to provide appropriate adjustments and support.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of everyone, all departments and units of the University have resumed normal operation since last Monday (25 November). We would greatly appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our colleagues, given that the transport arrangements and work environment are not yet optimal. My most sincere thanks go to our frontline staff for their professionalism and relentless efforts in restoring the campus in this difficult environment. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all colleagues for their dedication in discharging their duties, and their rapid response to the many dangerous challenges through teamwork. I look forward to welcoming all of you to the new semester next year.
In this turbulent time, we can all personally feel the loving care of CUHK members. The University has received many valuable suggestions, which will be followed up by the recently established cross-functional Rapid Response Task Force. It is my earnest desire to stand firm with all CUHK members and work together to rebuild our beautiful campus and great University.