Student Affairs Office
All along, the Student Affairs Office (SAO) has acted as a bridge between the University and its students, creating a supportive environment for students’ well-being and development.
The period of social incidents in 2019-20 was a testing time for universities in Hong Kong, which unexpectedly became the centre of tensions and conflicts. The unprecedented challenges presented by the situation put enormous pressure on the University community on different fronts. Given its mandate, the SAO played a proactive role in reaching out to all students, offering them a wide array of timely support measures during the most difficult time. Working closely together with faculty and departmental teams, the SAO has walked the extra mile to ensure transparent and sincere communication on campus. Specifically, the SAO adopted the following approach and initiatives:
• SAO’s early identification and understanding of students’ emotional needs were essential in venting their sentiments and grievances through the consolidation of a respectful relationship. It strengthened its emotional support and counselling services for students, including setting up a Care Station, a 24-hour counselling hotline, and organising stress-relieving activities from June 2019 to the end of Semester 1. In the student halls, Wardens, Senior Tutors and Student Hall Tutors provided timely pastoral guidance and support to student residents through close personal and social interaction.
• It brought together the Senior Management team and over 700 students to conduct direct communication from August to mid-November 2019. In addition to the SU’s open forums, meetings were arranged with student organisations and other target groups, to listen to views from all sides and act to find solutions in a timely manner.
• To cater for the psychological stress faced by students during the exceptional period, the SAO secured additional resources to support students with financial difficulties to seek psychiatric treatments. A special fund was set up to help student organisations cover partial losses or costs incurred from the cancellation of orientation camps. Starting July 2019 when there was heightened threat of commuting to and from the campus, the SAO also arranged temporary accommodation for students and staff in need.
• It worked with the Estates Office and the School Partnership and Field Experience Office to make special transportation arrangements for over 700 students and staff who wished to depart Hong Kong urgently out of concern for their personal safety. The same arrangement was provided for those who had to go off-campus for block teaching practice, in view of the massive road blocks and serious traffic disruptions in mid-November 2019.