Ivey’s satellite campus in Hong Kong has been unharmed by the city’s 21 straight weeks of often violent protests, professors at the campus confirmed.
The Ivey Business School runs specialized management courses from a handful of lecture halls and smaller rooms in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre — an enormous, glassy feature of the semi-autonomous city’s Wan Chai district.
The building has been a backdrop of some of the protests. Hongkongers have rebelled against the Chinese government’s encroaching authority, sometimes amassing in the hundreds of thousands. But the protests of mostly working Hongkongers usually strike up on the weekends.
So as the city splits between it's people and it's government, Ivey’s classes are just one part of Hong Kong oddly continuing, business as usual.
“We have been running consecutive programs since mid-October through early November and they are going smoothly as planned,” said Chris WH Chan, the campus’s dean. “That said, we are monitoring the situation closely and taking the necessary precautionary measures in terms of local travel.”
Ivey’s school in Asia was founded in 1998, just a year after the United Kingdom handed over the city to Beijing.
The Hong Kong government celebrates the transfer every July 1 with a ceremonial raising of the Chinese flag on the convention centre’s outdoor plaza. This year, as officiants hoisted the red flag, masked protesters stared down a police barricade around the event — the building that houses Ivey’s classrooms standing next to them.
From it's central, waterfront location in Wan Chai, the building has been affected by a number of protests. Demonstrations began in March over fears that Beijing, which has not fully governed the city since they got it back, would shuttle Hongkongers into China via extradition.
Protests haven’t stopped since — and the Ivey campus has held classes throughout these months, when teargas clouds have become routine as fog or rain.
Hong Kong has sometimes closed transit around the convention centre, citing safety concerns. Masses of marchers have walked through streets where the centre is in full view. The convention centre is a 20-minute walk from the Wan Chai police station, a recurring flashpoint in the demonstrations.
Ivey has two lecture halls and seven break-off rooms on the centre’s third floor, according to an online floorplan. The business school offers specialized courses, sometimes over a few months, in topics like “executive presence” and “strategic analysis and action.”
The students are usually local or regional according to Andreas Schotter, who teaches classes at the campus.
The protest movement, appearing on weekends, allows thousands of Hongkongers to demonstrate on their days off work or class. Most protestors try to remain anonymous, avoiding facial recognition cameras with face masks and umbrellas.
Professors at the campus are often based in London, not Hong Kong — like Schotter, who teaches at the main Ivey campus.
Schotter said his schedule has not been affected, though he is “monitoring the situation with student safety foremost in mind.”
Canada has not placed a formal travel advisory against citizens going to Hong Kong. But since August the government has recommended that Canadians “exercise a high degree of caution,” especially as protests often disrupt airports.
Gerard Seijts and Hubert Pun, Ivey professors in London and Hong Kong, echoed that their work had not been affected in the city.
Ivey is one of many clients who use the convention centre’s space.
This Oct. 1, to mark the 70th birthday of the People’s Republic of China, the convention centre opened it's grand hall to 12,000 spectators who watched a government celebration live-streamed from the mainland.
Later that day, a police officer shot at an 18-year-old protestor in the chest, point-blank — the first such incident since protests began.