5 university heads urge students to return to classes
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-24 12:02 PM
Government and school officials are saying that the action of storming the Executive Yuan by students protesting the trade in services agreement has shifted the focus of attention on their movement away from freedom of speech and expression. Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling said Monday that the students’ attempt to occupy the Executive Yuan was illegal and called for the students to end their protest and go home. Meanwhile a number of university presidents now say that the students’ behavior has passed beyond issues such as freedom of speech and they no longer support their actions in protesting the trade agreement.

Vice Minister of Education Chen Dehua cited Chiang’s remarks that the move to occupy the Executive Yuan is illegal, saying that students should disperse to avoid more serious conflicts with authorities.

Chen said the Ministry of Education is seriously concerned about the safety of students and pointed out that protests must be carried out under legal norms. He said that the government has clearly heard the students' demands and told the protestors that they should withdraw from the Executive Yuan.

The Five Major Universities Association issued a joint statement late Sunday night calling for students to act according to reason and not create more confrontation and conflict. He said that they should return to classes and find more rational ways of expressing their aspirations.

The association said students should immediately stop any illegal activities in order to ensure their own safety and avoid unnecessary conflicts. It said they should return to calm and rational discussion in expressing their views, saying they must remain rational and peaceful and return to the campus learning environment as soon as possible.

The Five Major University Presidents Association includes the director of the National Association of University Presidents, Sun Yat-sen University president Yang Hong-tun; the director of the Association of Presidents of Private Universities, Lai Ting-ming, president of Shih-hsin University; the director of the Association of National Universities of Science and Technology, Yao Li-teh, president of the Taipei University of Technology; the director of the Association of Private Technological Universities, Keh Tzu-hsiang, president of Longhua University of Science and Technology; and the director of the Association of Technical Universities, Chen Wen-kuei, president of National Tainan Technical University.

Wu En-hwa, former director of the Association of National Universities and president of National Chengchi University, said the school had supported the actions of the students involved in the anti-trade agreement movement in occupying the Legislative Yuan. Wu said, however, that the invasion of the Executive Yuan went beyond the sphere of the issue of free speech and called on students to find more rational means of expression to advance their cause.

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