Apr 26

Re.: 3rd message from SSCAA President for the school song

Dear members of the Alumni Association and fellow alumni,

I have listened to the different voices of members and alumni, have had several candid discussions with the College since Easter on the controversy, and also have a chance to review the latest College’s discussion paper being tabled at the April 26 Council meeting.

With the aim of openness and transparency, please find my submission to the College Council / School Management Committee for the April 26 Council meeting.

Faithfully yours,

Lee Tat-choy (Ah-choy)

President of St. Stephen’s College Alumni Association

Dear Dr. Law,

As the College Council member representative of the Alumni Association (AA), I would respectfully request that this letter be admitted as a formal supplement to the April 26, 2010 College Council/SMC meeting dossier, on the subject of “Discussion Paper on the Revision of the School Song”.

I am genuinely surprised that the College had not requested input from the AA, or referencing our several meetings since Easter, for the discussion paper which singled out – as trigger to the whole incident – “some alumni’s misunderstanding” of the extent of the change. It may also benefit the Council’s discussion if the AA’s and Student Association’s (SA) published statements, and outcome of the April 22nd SA Student Forum and Student Survey, are included in the paper.

I am of disagreement to the paper’s analysis that the matter is alumni in nature characterized by: some alumni, misunderstanding that both the melody and all lyrics have changed, herd mentality, irrational and mobbed. In contrary, I observed:

  1. 87.5% of 24 emails received in response to AA’s calling for input since April 8th expressed their concern and lack of support to subject.
  2. A very sizeable 1,527 people and 1,457 people joined respectively the Facebook groups of 反對SSC轉新校歌 (created by a teacher) & 關注聖士提反書院校歌改動小組 (created by recent graduates). Both communities have no direct affiliation with AA.
  3. Common discussion threads sampled from alumni, Facebook and SA’s statement are (a) rally for the original school song with no change whatsoever to maintain unity across alumni generations and loyalty to the College (the debate is not on the amount and type of change); (b) College’s statement on the reason for change is incoherent; and (c) College’s claim on stakeholders consultation and representation proved contradictory from SA and AA’s statement.
  4. Majority of the discussions, online and offline, are sentimental and passionate reflecting their deep love, loyalty and care of the College, even though for some of them, their times in the College were a distant past. Such interest in the business of the College should indeed be appreciated and treasured.

Understandably, the prerogatives and authority of the College Council in governing matters concerning the College should not be or appear to be compromised, other than being bounded by the statute. The authority rests squarely with the College Council for matters of importance and the College management for day-to-day operational matters.  Having said that, it is always commendable to include reasonable consultation and communication, to promote transparency and openness particularly in time of transformation. The above observations are not conclusive and ought not be interpreted as a vote in challenge to the College’s authority, but rather, it is indicative enough to reasonably suggest that the deployment and communication of subject were poorly executed and insensitive to the love and sentiment of the stakeholders, giving rise to severe confusion and prompted uninformed debate, which is only natural and not entirely unexpected under the circumstances.

I wish to submit to my fellow Council colleagues for your consideration:

  1. That the current issue lies not with religion (which has never been a point of content) nor with setting precedent, but is on what image the College wants to be perceived – to the very nature of our College’s vision, mission and values – what role model we want to set for educating our leaders of tomorrow, and what partnering relationship with the alumni, students and parents to foster mutual understanding, care and collaboration.
  2. That the solution lies not with the types (Song/Hymn), variations (Chinese translation, Song, Hymn, …) and/or amount of changes (single word, all lyrics), but is on how the College can rally all stakeholders to put aside our differences and refocus our attention on the wider issue of how we can collectively participate in support of, and champion, the College’s transformation to an exciting new era.
  3. It is my recommendation that a new committee be formed to start anew the planning, deployment and communication – with no pre-conceived outcome, and with the above 2 considerations in mind.

We have a unique opportunity here to propel us fast and strong into College’s future development, with creative thinking and sound change management approach, in place of conventional tactical win-win approach. Whereas the alternative is risking – of long term dire consequences – discontent and fragmentation of unity and loyalty for both the student and alumni communities, which is already happening today, if we listen hard enough.

Thank you for your patience and consideration.

Yours truly,

Mr. Samson Lee


St. Stephen’s College Alumni Association

cc. Alumni Association

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