Lawmakers yesterday condemned National Taiwan University (NTU) president Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) for requesting assistance from police to block a student protest on campus on Thursday, defying the decades-long school tradition of not welcoming police and military on campus.
“About 60 years ago, late NTU president Fu Si-nian (傅斯年) stood up against police and military personnel who tried to enter the school’s campus to arrest students [who took part in an anti-government protest]. Sixty years later, police officers eventually set foot on the NTU campus — and they were invited by the current NTU president,” Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) told a press conference.
Lin said that as an NTU graduate, she regrets seeing a president of the university, who should be the defender of the school’s liberal traditions and values, become the person who breached these traditions and values.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君), also an NTU graduate, said that during the Martial Law era, “not every president of the NTU dared to stand up against the government as Fu did, but none of them deliberately requested police action against students.”
“Lee has not only humiliated the post he serves, but also the values of NTU,” Cheng said. “As a co-chairperson of the Education and Culture Committee, I have asked Lee to brief the legislature [on the matter] on Monday.”
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), also an NTU alumnus, urged Lee to apologize over the decision, “otherwise we may propose to delete part of the NTU’s budget.”
While the university celebrated its 84th anniversary on Thursday, hundreds of students — accompanied by residents of an economically disadvantaged community — joined a protest against the school’s lawsuits against residents living on a block on which the university plans to build a new complex for its medical school.
Dozens of police officers tried to stop the protest, warning that they were in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act, and ordered the crowd to disband.
At the press conference yesterday morning, NTU vice president Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂) and dean of general affairs Cheng Fu-shu (鄭富書) stressed that the school made the decision to call the police to protect the safety of students taking part in the celebrations.
Later yesterday, at about noon, about 200 NTU students rallied outside the school’s main administrative building, asking to meet with the president.
Under pressure, Lee came out and promised he would take care of the disadvantaged residents.
Responding to criticism over the police presence on campus, Lee said NTU would always refuse to allow police or military personnel on its premises, “with the exception of times when the safety of students is threatened.”
Lee then appeared to be experiencing physical discomfort in the middle of his speech and he was later transferred to NTU Hospital for emergency treatment.