Vice-Chancellor’s Open Letter: In Memory of Miss Fiona Lee
Dear Students, Colleagues, and Alumni,
The whole University was in shock and intense grief when it learnt that Miss Fiona Lee Tian-wei, a new student admitted to the first year of our Physics programme, took her own life yesterday. While Fiona would have been joining the University in September, we already take her to be a member of the University community, and are deeply saddened by her passing. We have conveyed our condolences to her family, and we hope that they will gradually recover from the profound sorrow caused by their tragic loss.
Fiona joined the orientation camp of the Physics Department which took place from the 10th to the 13th of August. Based on the information obtained from the camp organizers, the camp was held mainly for the purpose of assisting new students to understand and plan their university life, and there were no inappropriate activities involved. We have also learnt from Fiona’s family, a secondary school teacher close to her, and other students who participated in the orientation camp, that Fiona had not been intimidated or shown any trait of distraught during the four days of the camp. We do not know the reasons behind the decision that she had made.
The orientation camp is an activity that marks the launch of one’s university life, and much is done by both the University and student organizations every year to ensure that new students will integrate themselves with their new environment as early as they can. Hence the orientation camp carries a distinct, positive value and meaning. Fiona’s case was, of course, most unfortunate, but it is also very much to be hoped that consideration be given to the feelings of those involved in the planning and organizing of orientation activities, so as to prevent pressure being put upon them.
The University has taken the initiative to contact the organizers of the orientation programme who have been affected by the incident, and provide both resource and counselling support to the students concerned. At the same time, we will also reiterate the University’s guidelines to all units that are organizing orientation activities, and continue to impart information to new students who are about to take part in orientation programmes, to ensure that all channels for assistance are widely known.
It is a heart-breaking matter to see a young and worthy life ending before its time, and I call upon our young men and women to treasure their own lives, and face the vicissitudes of human existence with courage and fortitude. When confronted with problems, your University, your teachers and your friends are all there to help you overcome them in effective ways.
Once again, on behalf of the Chinese University, I extend our profound sympathy and heart-felt condolences to Fiona’s family.
Joseph J Y Sung