As protests continue to escalate in Hong Kong, students in various USC programs in the region have had their classes moved online. The demonstrations against a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China began in June and have grown more violent since, with protesters fighting back against police.
At the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where USC students in the World Bachelor in Business Program study during their sophomore year, a local student died Nov. 8 after falling from the third to second floor of a parking structure during a protest several days earlier.
As protests grew more violent, HKUST communicated with USC and decided to move classes online, Marshall School of Business Manager of Undergraduate International Programs Sean O’Connell wrote in a statement to the Daily Trojan.
“As always, the safety of our students comes first,” O’Connell said. “We are working closely with our partners at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to stay aware of the situation in Hong Kong and to take appropriate and necessary steps for the safety of our WBB students.”
Outside USC students from Hong Kong, others have returned home, are traveling or will be leaving soon, according to O’Connell.
Georgia Stahl, an international programs coordinator in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said the one student in the Annenberg Hong Kong program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong will also finish their classes online for the remainder of the semester. Stahl and other abroad coordinators met last week and decided that moving classes online would be the best way to ensure student safety.
Stahl said six students had planned to attend the CUHK program in Spring 2020, but the international programs office helped some of the students join other programs or remain at USC for the semester.
Yakira Matisonn, a sophomore in the WBB program, said classes were canceled from Nov. 8 through Nov. 13 following the student’s death because his death led to more protests. Rather than lasting for a few hours each day, she said the protests lasted all day and into the early hours of the morning and were more violent than before.
Matisonn said she and other students left within a few days of the announcement that classes would move online for the semester. Now that she’s home in South Africa, Matisonn must complete two online lecture classes and will have to coordinate with classmates to work on group projects and turn in assignments across different time zones.
Matisonn said she understands the safety concerns but had a hard time leaving Hong Kong after meeting students involved in the protests.
“For my friends and I, we had very mixed emotions,” she said. “My roommate and I started because it’s a very complicated situation, and we feel very deeply connected with the situation in Hong Kong because we’ve been living there. A lot of us have gone to the protests … [and] seen everything firsthand.”