聖莊轉樓 – Decision MADE

Following the Meeting at 21st Febrary, the College Council has decided to change the Sixth Floor of the Old Wing to a female floor starting from the coming September 2008.

Please find below the full letter by the President of the College Council Prof Lee Shiu Hung:-

25 February 2008
Dear Council Members, Alumni and Students

Conversion of 6th Floor to Female Residence

On 21st February, 2008, the College Council made an important decision regarding the admission policy of male and female undergraduates. 6/F would be converted to a female residence from the academic year of 2008 onwards.

The issue has been looming for over 10 years. From time to time, it was raised but no decision was made. The issue is there and known to all concerned. The issue was raised and discussed again for the past months. The Council now consider it is the appropriate time to make a decision, for the long-term benefit of the College.

The Council had thoroughly studied the hall admission statistics of the University and come to the following conclusions:
– uni-sex halls (either male or female) are generally not as popular with application/place (?A/P?) ratio constantly lower than 1 since Academic Year of 2002;
– A/P ratio lower than 1among male undergraduates is a common problem for the halls with the male/female places ratio inconsistent with the male/female undergraduates population ratio of the University (males numbered at 45.5% whereas hall places occupied was 54.5% in recent years since Academic Year 2002).

St. John?s College is no exception to the latter problem with the current male/female places at 56.1%/43.9% (125 male vs 98 female places). A/P ratio of male undergraduates fluctuated around 1 in the past 6 years with the lowest being 0.80. This has two major implications:
– unfilled places means financial volatility to the College?s survival in the longer run as we are not University administered hostel and have to sustain a self-balancing budget;
– with inadequate applications for male places, we will have to admit all male applicants given our financial constraints while on the other hand, female applicants, even with greater merits, could not be admitted due to the fierce competition ? this is against our admission policy based on ?merit & equity?.

The recent student survey tabled by the Student Representatives also revealed the support of the students for the admission of residents upon merit (81%) and the call for a change of the current gender ratio of the hall (66%). With the information supplied by other Council members which indicates that the male/female A-level candidates have been fluctuating around 0.8 for the last 12 years, the Council is of the view that the current male/female ratio of the University would prevail and the change in the male/female places to align with the University ratio is inevitable and would help the College to maintain its independence in the future.

The Council studied the various options put forward by the Working Group. Each option was discussed in detail. Following from above, the problem is more of inadequate male applicants and the options to increase the female places to the optimal ratio would not solve the problem.

The Council works under this principle: to achieve the maximum benefits with minimum impact, both financially and to the parties being affected. Hence, the final decision was to change one floor of male places into female places.

This is a difficult decision for the Council. We respect and value the culture of each individual floor with equal importance. Moreover, many Council Members were also alumni from the potentially affected floors. However, consensus was reached to change 6/F into the female floor based on the following considerations:
– the change of 6/F to a female floor would result in a optimal male/female ratio close to the University population;
– in line with the overall hall structure, the change of 6/F is practically more streamlined-with females on the upper floors and males on the lower floors;
– this follows the tradition in the past when the 7/F was converted from a male to a female floor when there was a need to change.

The Council had noted the students? request for the implementation of the change to be deferred to Academic Year 2009/10. However, drawing from the administrative experience of the Council Members, it was agreed that a 6-month period was desirable and sufficient to effect the change smoothly. Dragging the issue for another year would cause even more emotional unsettlement and unforeseeable problems. With the co-operation from all parties, we believe preparation for the change could be smoothly completed by September 2008.

Looking back at the history of St. John?s College, we had faced huge challenges from time to time. With the collective wisdom of the Council Members, the Master, Fellows, Tutors, Alumni and Students, we have embraced changes and made difficult decisions. For example, building a Postgraduate Wing to improve our financial strength, slashing our hall fees to increase our competitiveness. Today, we are proud of being a member of St. John?s College, as it remains a well managed hostel outside the University administration.

Last but not least, the Council would like to thank the Working Group led by the Dean, alumni and student representatives for collecting the views of the students and alumni and preparing all the required information and alternatives, so that the Council can reach an informed decision.

Let us work together to meet the new challenge ahead.

With Best Regards.

Yours sincerely

Professor S. H. Lee
President
St. John?s College Council

___________________________________________

Previous news regarding this

In recent years, recruitment and acceptance of applicants have always been a controversial issues. Due to the unequal ratio between boys and girls in SJC, Rev. Paul Tong has proposed switching floors this year to equalize the ratio. He plans to put forward this proposal in the Council Meeting on 21st February. If the proposal is accepted, it will take effect in the coming year. As to how the distribution will be, there has not been a confirmed suggestion yet.

Please refer to the documents attached for details. There is also a discussion regarding the issue on the online democracy wall at http://www.stjohns.hk.

You may also contact May (Chairperson of St. John’s College Students』 Association 2007-2008) at 62737543 if you have any enquiries or suggestions. Thank you.

In the coming College Council Meeting on 21 Feb, there might be resolution on this issue. So your early suggestion and opinions are mostly welcome.

Here are some updates on the issue of the Male/Female Room Ratio Issue. After the forum on Feb 4th, a working group has been convened to further evaluate the different options to tackle the equity issue and proposed timeline and ways of execution.

The working group had a meeting on Feb 10th and below are some of the
discussion:

Some interpretation of data that the working group noted:

– M-F ratio for those entering HKU and those sitting for AL is
consistently around 0.8 for the past ten years, despite the fact that the M-F ratio is greater than 1 for the age group 15-19.

– Having said that, according to census, the M-F ratio for the
age groups under 14 is still greater than 1. One cannot exclude the possibility that there might be more male for the age group 20-24 in the coming ten years (despite trends in the opposite direction in previous years). Hence,

o 「Flexibility」 or 「Reversibility」 should be added into our consideration when discussing the options

– Application to Places (A/P) ratio of SJC: Male – similar to that of non-popular unisex / co-ed halls – implying St John’s is not as competitive among male freshmen

Female – similar to that of popular halls – implying St John’s is competitive among female freshmen

The working group has considered the following options:

Convert 3/F into female floor
Convert 6/F into a female floor
Revert 7/F into a male floor; fill all NW floors with female students Create co-ed floors (5/F + 6/F) or (1/F + 2/F) Convert all postgraduate rooms in 3rd Wing 5/F, adding 22 rooms for undergraduates Convert all fellows/ tutor flats on NW 2/F , adding 16 female undergrads Admit no female non-locals, no female tutors; but more male non-locals Construct one additional floor on NW roof top

Discussion on the Options:

– The options can be divided into 3 groups in the discussion

o A – Male floor to female conversion: 1,2,3

o B – Co-ed floors: 4

o C – Others: 5,6,7,8

– Group C is very costly. It is unlikely that to be able to
find funding for these options

– There is no consensus in the working group whether group A
or B is more preferred.

– A: 1,2,3

o Not reversible and not flexible. Uneasy to catch the trend, have the possibility to change back in years afterwards when M-F ratio reverts

o The M-F ratio 50:50 is most preferred because it is safer and more balanced, taking into consideration of the figures in census (M-F ratio is greater in the age groups under 14)

o Converting 6/F would change the M-F ratio to 0.83, creating a higher risk for future reversion if such student ratio changes in the future.

o Converting the whole NW into a female wing (option 3) is least preferred because this would affect the mobility of the two sexes and make them less integrated

o Recommended priority for consideration in group A: 1 – 2 – 3

– B: 4 – Co-ed floors: 5/F + 6/F (16 females), or 1/F + 2/F
(12 females)
o Change tutor rooms into female bathroom, girls at the back of the corridor, mainly using the back staircase

o Add a door / curtain in between the floor to ensure privacy during late hours

o This option is much more accepted by males than females

o Female members in the group think it will create embarrassment and uncomfortable feeling among females in co-ed floors

o Suggest excos to collect more input from current female students

o Some U students have negative perception of the co-ed floors in Hysan Lee Hall.

o If executed, it requires education on openness

o Can have trial in the summer (half a floor in 6/F, for a few weeks)

– 5 – Convert all postgraduate rooms in 3rd Wing 5/F

o Separate issue. Because all floors in 3rd wing is mixed floors, M-F ratio in the undergraduate wings would remain unchanged

o All floors are co-ed floors in the 3rd wing

o Plus 4/F, earn extra to cover the loss

o Mainly for undergraduates who want to focus more on their studies (Year 4,5)

o A senior undergraduate floor in the 3rd wing will be quite separate from the undergraduate community due to the physical separation

o More demand (Year 4 students) for the rooms in the senior floor in 3rd wing after 334

o Financial loss — 0.7m per year

– 6 – Convert all fellows/ tutor flats on NW 2/F

o Financial loss per year: 0.72m = $4500 per undergraduate per year

o Cannot effectively address the issue (Only 16 undergraduate rooms)

– 7 – Admit no female non-locals, no female tutors; but more male non-locals

o Going backward, not solving the problem. Contingency plan only

o Hall should admit more people from different background, including female non-locals

– 8 – Construct one additional floor on NW roof top
o Financial cost too high. Not possible in short term.

The working group has discussed on the timeline of the issue and proposed:

– Decide that something needs to be done to adjust the M-F ratio and the option this year before June 2008

– Implement in 2009-10, allow one year for transition

o Interim measures in 2008 to further minimize impact on affected floors

o Floor facilities conversion (if any)

o Re-floor students

o For 「new」 students to think through new floor culture

The above discussion will be reported in the council meeting on Feb 21st. Council will further discuss and make the final decision. It is expected that in this council meeting, the principles of admission – 「equity」 and 「merit」 will be decided. In addition, they may decide the options, if council members agree that there is sufficient discussion and consideration; Or otherwise, they may give the final decision on the options (i.e. implementation of the admission principles) to Master and Fellows.

Meanwhile, the students』 association is trying to collcet opinions from current students, which will be reflected to the council members as one of their considerations before the final decision.

If you have any comments, you may contact May at at maymay.kwan@gmail.com or 62737543.

Best,
May Kwan

Chairperson

SJCSA 07-08