University Dean of Students talks new brew spot and orientation camp
As CUHK is entering a new academic year, the Office of Student Affairs at CUHK is working full steam to bring in new opportunities to the campus.
Professor Ko Wing-hung, University Dean of Students who oversees the OSA, shares with CUHK in Focus some of the plans in the pipeline.
One of the highlights will be a student-run café at John Fulton Centre on the Central Campus, to be opened in this academic year.
“This will be an exciting experimental learning project,” says Professor Ko. “Students not only will learn how to run a business, they also can bring in new ideas and make the café a centre of activities for everyone.”
The 800 sq ft unit near the supermarket on the campus will be a place for students to gather, enjoy a drink or a snack, or have a brief respite amid their busy schedules. The café could also be a cultural salon for film screening and reading clubs, or even informal lectures, he adds.
The idea has been inspired by the success at the University of Chicago, which boasts four student-run coffee shops across its main campus to provide venues for skill development and workplace experience.
Team “The Infinity Room” (in the first photo) win the pitching competition for the café project. A total of 12 teams took part. (Photo courtesy of OSA)
Earlier, a pitching competition open to all full-time students drew 12 teams to bid for the café project. The teams had to devise a practical, creative business plan with a budget. Before the competition, the OSA, the Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services and EPIN, a university-wide minor programme in entrepreneurship and innovation, provided training and support to the participants.
A team of four students coming from the Faculties of Art, Business and Engineering have won the competition with their proposal “The Infinity Room”. They will be awarded a contract of up to two years with a seed money and the necessary equipment to run the café. They have to design their own menu as well as operational and manpower plan, just like running business in the real world. They are also encouraged to make good use of the space given to better serve CUHK community. The OSA and the other two units will continue to provide operation training and guidance to the team along the way.
Orientation camp celebrates inclusiveness
This year, all the nine constituent colleges at CUHK are bringing back a full-length, four-day orientation camp to welcome their freshmen, after running only day camps in the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The camps will start next week.
Following the new practice introduced last year, all of the freshmen, whether they are local, from the mainland or overseas, are encouraged to join the orientation organised by their colleges (or so-called “Big O”) rather than seeing mainland and international students joining separate camps.
Professor Ko appreciated colleagues’ and student organisers’ efforts and thoughtful preparations to engage everyone in the college orientation week, providing interpretation to non-Cantonese students, while allowing time for mingling in smaller groups.
“This is a right step to take. As an international university, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and this is not just a slogan,” he says.
‘Sincerity is the key’
Professor Ko, also an Associate Professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences, enjoys making friends with students. He is proud of having served as warden of the hostel Ying Lin Tang of Chung Chi College for the past 20 years, a position he stepped down from just last month. “My family has been part of the big Ying Lin family. There are so many fond memories,” he says.
He was a member of the dormitory’s badminton team and fought many tough matches in the inter-hostel competitions over the years. He also treasured those moments when he sat down with the boys in their rooms and had a chat with them, be it about family, study or relationships. When an old boy invites him to his wedding, Professor Ko is delighted to attend.
“To communicate with these young people, you just have to be sincere, willing to listen and solve problems together. Then you will win their trust and respect.”
By Joyce Ng
Main photo by Tsang Wing-san