U.S. Colleges Suspend Hong Kong Study Abroad Programs Amid Violence
Several Hong Kong universities have canceled classes for the remainder of the semester as protests become increasingly violent.
At least a dozen American universities have suspended study abroad programs in Hong Kong amid ongoing violence between police and protesters.
Many Hong Kong universities have suspended classes for the remainder of the semester as protesters have set fire to campus property, fortified barricades, and stockpiled food and projectiles, the New York Times reports.
“Protest activities at Hong Kong’s universities have become more intense,” Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “Given the high degree of uncertainty, we believe that our students’ best interest is served by leaving Hong Kong.”
Syracuse University students will leave their respective universities when the school’s programs end on Nov. 19.
Protests across the city began in June in opposition to a proposed bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, according to BBC. Critics fear the bill would undermine the region’s autonomy and civil liberties.
Although the bill was withdrawn in September, demonstrators continue to demand greater democratic freedoms, including universal suffrage and an independent investigation into alleged systemic police brutality and misconduct.
Last week, masked students who had sieged the Chinese University of Hong Kong threw Molotov cocktails, bricks and other makeshift weapons at police. Police responded by shooting tear gas and rubber bullets.
On Monday, police breached Hong Kong Polytechnic University where hundreds of students and protesters have been holed up for days. A group of approximately 100 people reportedly tried to leave the campus but were again met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said police did not storm the campus and has called on protesters to hand over their weapons, calling the campus “a weapon factory.”
University president Jin-Guang Teng said in a video message that police have agreed to suspend their use of force, according to The Associated Press. There are at least 500 people still inside the campus, said Ken Woo, the student union’s acting president.
Fifteen Georgetown University students studying at the City University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong are also in the process of leaving the city, reports NBC News.
“Once students have been safely relocated, the University will work with them to ensure that they are able to complete the remainder of their academic coursework remotely,” said a Georgetown spokesperson.
Last week, the University of California Education Abroad Program announced it was suspending its spring study abroad program in Hong Kong. Students who were planning to study in the city will be able to transfer to a different program, according to Daily Nexus.
There are currently 79 UC students studying at Hong Kong universities and they have been given the option to return home early.