The Aletheia University Student Association yesterday called on the university to apologize to retired professor Chang Liang-tse (張良澤) after it prevented him from accessing the Taiwanese literature archive at its Tainan campus by changing the lock on the building.
Last month, the university changed the lock on the building without warning, barring Chang’s access to the archive that he had “singlehandedly established,” Chung Yen-wei (鍾延威), the son of the late writer Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政), wrote on Facebook on Friday.
The university in 1997 created the first department of Taiwanese literature in the nation, and Chang, now 82, was the department’s first-ever chairman, he wrote.
The archive was established in March of the same year at the university’s Tamsui campus, and moved to the Madou District (麻豆) campus in September 2001, he added.
After Chang was named the honorary director of the archive in 2009, he moved his personal collection to the building, and many writers or their descendants also stored their manuscripts there because they trusted Chang, Chung wrote.
On Dec. 1, two librarians from the Tamsui campus told Chang that the university was moving the collection back to the New Taipei City campus, and Chang responded that parts of the collection do not belong to the school, Chung wrote.
A few days later, the university changed the lock on the building, Chung said, adding that Chang was thereafter required to borrow a key from the administrative office in Madou to enter.
Although Chang felt “humiliated,” he continued to work in the building, Chung added.
As a preventive measure, Chang began to organize and move his personal collection to other locations and notified writers or their family members who had stored their manuscripts at the school to retrieve them, Chung wrote.
On Dec. 29, the university changed the lock on the building again, he added.
Although the university might have its reasons for wanting to move the archive back to the university’s main campus in Tamsui, the way it handled the matter was “overly rough,” Chung wrote.
Chung called on university president Chen Chi-min (陳奇銘) to explain his decisionmaking process and his “uncivilized” treatment of Chang, and to apologize to Chang.
The university said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday that it admired Chang’s lifelong dedication to Taiwanese literature and, as such, has allowed him to continue using the facility to conduct research in the 17 years since his retirement.
However, taking into account the rights of the faculty and students of its Department of Taiwanese Literature, the university is moving some historical materials to Tamsui, where the department is based, to give them easier access, it said.
To help with the transfer, the university needs to sort out the rights to the property in the archive, it said.
The building where the archive is located has not been used by students or teachers for many years, and there is not enough staff to clean and maintain it, it said, adding that too many people had keys to the building.
The school changed the lock to prevent materials from the archive from being damaged or going missing, it added.
The university said it was in the process of preparing a suitable place for Chang to continue his research, as well as arranging for a meeting with Chang, Chung, former university president Yeh Neng-che (葉能哲) and other donors in hopes of reaching a consensus on the matter.
Members of the student association and the National Students’ Union of Taiwan, as well as students from other universities, held a news conference yesterday in Tamsui to urge Chen to apologize to Chang for changing the lock on the building.
The university should postpone the transfer of the archive until the dispute is resolved, and the plan has been discussed and approved by the university affairs committee, they said.
It should respect the achievements of historians of Taiwanese literature, and should not treat historical assets lightly, they added.
“The student association supports professor Chang,” and “defend Taiwan’s historical dignity,” they chanted.
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