Opinion: Students should learn from the Hong Kong protesters

ASU students can adopt tactics from Hong Kong students on how to protect our liberty

The Hong Kong riots started this summer in response to a proposed extradition bill.

Many people in Hong Kong feared that the bill would be used to target political activists, among many other things, and thus fought back against tear gas with peaceful protests and created a list of demands for China to meet. Around the protests' three-month mark, on Sept. 4, Carrie Lam announced that the bill be withdrawn.

It’s time ASU students learn from the students of Hong Kong because they know how to protect their liberty more than we do. 

Students often express their disdain with the way that the Arizona Board of Regents raises ASU tuition almost every year, but as a unit have yet to rise up and organize to demand change from the government appointed entities making decisions for us. 

Read more: Opinion: Struggling ASU students do not have enough resources

Kisha Cheng, a freshman studying public health, is worried about her family back in Hong Kong.

"My mom told me she's just scared," Cheng said. "She doesn't know what will happen to her because the police are using excessive force."

For students in Hong Kong freedom comes at a price, and while these students are facing retaliation for their protests, ASU students need to appreciate the freedoms they enjoy on a day-to-day basis, including the option to hold demonstrations on campus.

"Some schools even call the police to arrest a student. And then some students have been attacked by the police." Eva Mo, a freshman studying journalism from Hong Kong, said.

According to a 2017 poll conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, 37% of people surveyed could not name a single right mentioned in the First Amendment, a critical part of the Bill of Rights. 

Students are not able to stand up for their rights if they don't know what they are.

"Americans don't really care about politics, because they feel like (they) don't have to fight for anything," Mo said. "And that's why not many people vote, and that's really sad for me, because (in Hong Kong we) don't have our own votes."

It’s important to take a stand when our rights are infringed upon, as that stance can be the catalyst for changes to come.

Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill clarifying that universities and community colleges shall not restrict a student's right to speak. This bill thereby allows students on all sides of the political aisle to express themselves and protest what they deem to be unjust. 

Students need to be willing to speak their minds to foster an open environment because it allows everyone to grow and develop logical opinions. 

It's easy to think that students voices won't make a difference. According to a General Social Survey, in 2018, 13% of people ages 18 to 34 felt that people don't have any say in what the government does. However, a ripple can turn into a wave, and what may seem insignificant at the start can truly become something great. 

Hong Kong has shown that students can make a tremendous impact not only on ASU, but also across Arizona. During the riots, thousands of Hong Kong students boycotted school to oppose the extradition bill, which gained global attention.

"A lot of high school students (in Hong Kong) just stand out. Before they go to class, they hold hands to do human chains in front of their school ... They're basically sacrificing themselves," Mo said.

The University is comprised of over 70,000 on-campus students as of 2018. If even a fraction of that number decided to demonstrate against institutions when rights are infringed upon, their voices could ring across the state.

"You should really stand up when you have votes. Choose what you want, (don't complain),"  Mo said.

Just because we've been blessed with liberty doesn't mean that people won't try and take that liberty away. It's up to us to recognize when our rights are being infringed upon — stand up like the people of Hong Kong and do something about it.


Reach the columnist at slbrinso@asu.edu or follow @Stacy_L_Anders on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the  author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its  editors.

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