National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday apologized and promised to prioritize students and their needs when making decisions on leasing out school facilities, following reports that students were injured at a protest during the “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival” on Sunday.
The festival abruptly ended at about 4:40pm after NTU students occupied the stage to protest against the university renting out the venue and the organizer allegedly damaging the school’s athletic field.
Members of the pro-Taiwan independence and pro-unification groups engaged in scuffles, with three students reportedly being injured by a man police later identified as a member of the pro-unificaiton Patriot Association (愛國同心會).
Speaking at a news conference, NTU secretary-general Lin Ta-te (林達德) explained the process in which the university reached a decision on renting out the facility.
The university’s Department of Athletics in July received a lease application from the event’s organizer, Mu Chieh Ta (幕婕塔), which the school initially opposed amid concern over noise and how it might affect student rights, Lin said.
However, after numerous negotiations with the company and neighborhood chiefs, the department approved the application, but failed to notify all teachers and students whose activities would be affected by the event, Lin said, acknowledging that the procedure was flawed.
Asked if the department changed its attitude due to pressure from the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs, a co-organizer of the event, Lin said: “It would be more difficult for pure business activities to obtain approval.”
“We thought the Department of Cultural Affairs would also examine the event,” he added.
Following reports that students were attacked by members of pro-unification groups at the university’s side entrance on Xinhai Road, student representatives said they were concerned about campus safety and delay in police action.
Lin said that the university’s security guards were able to rescue the students after missing a few calls because of the confusion at Sunday’s event, while city police were late because they were not sure whether the clash occurred on campus or not.
NTU student representative Hsu Lien-yi (徐連毅) questioned why the school initially rejected Taipei Police’s request to enter the campus.
Lin said the school hoped to maintain the spirit of late NTU president Fu Ssu-nien (傅斯年), who had refused the entry of the military and police on campus.
He added that the company will have to pay for the damage to the athletic field, including its repair and a certification fee.
The school, in principle, will not rent out the field again and will convene a special committee to review individual applications for significant events, Lin said.
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