For the first time since the social unrest in 2019, fresh graduates and guests were able to freely enter the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus yesterday to attend the graduation ceremony.
However, a student protest broke out over issues including the dissolution of the student union, the change of the CUHK emblem and the university's mandatory vaccine requirement.
Students and security guards quarreled in the afternoon after staff tried to seize students' cardboard signs and said their protest was not authorized.
The guards also surrounded the students and warned that they have committed intimidation. The group dispersed after the police arrived and issued warnings.
In response, CUHK said the security guards were provoked with vulgar insults while they were implementing crowd management measures.
Meanwhile, other students were glad to share the experience of the graduation ceremony with their family.
One graduate said the register-free arrangement felt "new" and was like pre-pandemic times.
Another graduate - whose internship was affected by the campus restrictions - expressed the same relief.
At the graduation ceremony, university president Rocky Tuan Sung-chi said the pandemic has brought challenges to students and their university life might not be what they had expected.
"But with your courage and perseverance, you have overcome difficulties and matured," he said.
After the graduates leave the campus and join society, they should work to create a better future for Hong Kong, the country and the world, Tuan said.
He added that the world faces pressing issues including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, poverty, inequality and geopolitical tensions.
"I hope our graduates use the skills they have learned at CUHK to understand the nature of things, to make rational decisions, to handle things with a mature attitude and to tackle challenges," he said.
Tuan also appealed to graduates to cherish their identity as CUHK alumni and their relationships, quoting American author Helen Keller: "I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than walk alone in the light."