A statement from Student Executive Committee (SEC)
On Friday 14 February 2020, five students asked the SU President Jake Verity to consider the behaviour of the International Students’ Officer, Sissi Li.
SU President Jake Verity convened a meeting of the Student Executive Committee (SEC), on Monday the 17th of February, to discuss their response. SEC has decided to publish the following statement:
In August 2019, the Students’ Union received some complaints regarding posts that Sissi had made on her personal WeChat account. These posts were published in response to complaints she’d received from students about how the university categorised Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries on their website. The complaints went through the SU complaints process which was concluded in August.
Since then, the WeChat post in question has since been misinterpreted to suggest the International Students’ Officer was encouraging mainland Chinese students to report those who chose to identify as ‘Taiwanese’ or ‘Hong Kongers’ on official university forms to Chinese government officials.
Sissi has clarified that the term “official” is referring to the University, rather than the Chinese Government with the following statements:
“At no point throughout these social media posts do I call for anyone to be reported to Chinese government officials, nor to have anyone’s ‘thoughts corrected’.
“Any references in the posts to ‘public authorities’ or similar is referring to the University.”
Regardless of this, SEC recognises that the comments Sissi made weren’t appropriate, and were without full consideration of the political implications, given her representative role for all international students at the University. These particular personal views expressed back in August by Sissi are not representative of Sheffield Students’ Union.
The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students’ Union are global organisations. Now more than ever we have to find ways to evolve as we learn about other cultures and communities from around the world, as well as managing global political unrest within the microcosm of our University campus.
It is appropriate now, to also address recent concerns to our students about the reporting of this in the media.
Media outlets have conflated the posts with spying which has led to abusive messages to Sissi. We assert in the strongest possible terms that these accusations are not only false, but also grounded in orientalism.
We expect any falsified claims about Sissi’s behaviour such as her “‘urg[ing] students to report Hong Kongers on campus to Chinese government’ should be fully redacted due to the libelous nature of the comment, without any conclusive evidence or claims of the assertion being made.
Student Executive Committee
Monday 17 February 2020
International Student Officer’s Statement
“I’d like to reiterate my sincere apologies for these posts, which I deleted in the summer. It can be difficult navigating so many different political opinions, and it’s been a steep learning curve during my time so far as International Students’ Officer.
I value all our international students, who can speak to me on any matters important to them. I am committed to representing you all - no matter where you are from or what you believe. I’ll continue to work hard to improve the international student experience over the coming months.”