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U of C student set to depart Hong Kong as violence between police and protesters escalates
CALGARY – The University of Calgary is working to help two of its students, presently studying in Hong Kong, safely exit the territory.
One of the two students spoke to CTV Tuesday morning. The man, who is studying business at Hong Kong University, did not want his name disclosed as he fears it could compromise his safety.
"The U of C has actually helped me out quite a bit," said the student. "They're giving me a good option to get out."
He said he was planning to stay in Hong Kong until the end of December.
"I wouldn't feel comfortable staying here as long as I was originally going to be here, so I'm glad I'm getting out when I am," he said.
He told CTV he would be leaving Hong Kong for South Korea on Wednesday.
While the protests in Hong Kong have intensified, and spread to university campuses, the U of C student said the campus at Hong Kong University where he is studying remains safe, at least for now. He added the protests, while large, are localized.
"When protests are happening in the area, if you go one street over, there's people at the bars, there's people buying their groceries, stuff like that. Life is going on literally right next to when this stuff is happening," he said.
He said his classroom work at the university has been cancelled as a result of the protests, and the courses he is studying have moved online. The move will allow him to finish his classes this semester, when he departs for South Korea.
School monitoring closely
Susan Barker, The University of Calgary’s vice-provost of student experience said the school has been monitoring the Hong Kong situation closely.
“Before any trip takes place we have an in-depth risk assessment and plans are in place,” she said, adding her department has been communicating with the students in Hong Kong
“We have connected with them. We've offered them financial assistance and other assistance in order to return back to Canada or to accelerate their onward travel plans.”
University of Calgary Students’ Union president Jessica Revington said that, while it is not in a position to comment on the politics in Hong Kong, the organization is very concerned for the safety of its members abroad.
"We're glad to see that the university has reached out to them and offered them to get them home safely," said Revington. "It's our belief that the university has an obligation to ensure the safety of their students abroad."
'Up to the individual'
Revington spoke to one of the students in Hong Kong on Tuesday to confirm they are safe and that the university has offered support for exiting the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. She added it is ultimately the student's decision whether to leave in the face of the protests.
"It is up to the individual students that they would like to make use of the resources and assistance that the university has offered. We hope that the students put their safety as their first and foremost priority."
The unrest in Hong Kong, which has now spread to university campuses, began in June 2019. At that time, a peaceful rally saw approximately one million people march while demanding the withdrawal of an extradition bill before the Hong Kong Parliament .
The protests have since escalated into violent confrontations between protesters and the police, who have deployed tear gas and rubber bullets.
On Monday, police briefly stormed Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which is being held by anti-government protesters, making several arrests.
As protesters set fires on campus, Hong Kong police threatened to use using live ammunition if they met further resistance.