National Taiwan University (NTU) president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) yesterday said he holds a positive attitude toward students who participate in or care about social movements and public issues, and he urged the government to use democratic negotiations instead of force in response to the protest movement against the cross-strait service trade agreement.
“I am very, very supportive of students taking part in movements and becoming involved in social issues,” Yang said, adding that “National Taiwan University students are not supposed to be detached from society.”
However, the university has to remain neutral and it considers the safety of the protesting students a priority, he said.
Hopefully, there will be no more force used, and the students will use peaceful and rational methods to negotiate with officials, he said.
The university also released a statement saying that it was not appropriate for students to miss classes, but that it would respect lecturers’ decisions to reschedule or relocate classes.
The university’s declaration of neutrality drew complaints from some students, who said that the school and its president should defend the students — just as then-university president Fu Si-nian (傅斯年) did in 1949 during the April 6 Incident (四六事件), when police and military personnel tried to arrest students for taking part in a campus protest.
Yesterday was the118th anniversary of Fu’s birth and a memorial was held by a group of students at the school.