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Sling your arrows, schools tell Cupid

Top News | Jane Cheung Feb 12, 2019
Two Caritas post-secondary co-ed institutions are out of bounds to Cupid.

The reason doing the rounds is that Cupid encourages dating, so all activities related to Valentine's Day are banned.

The two are the Caritas Institute of Higher Education, which has more than 1,500 students, and the Caritas Bianchi College of Careers, with a population of more than 300 students.

The ban came to light when the student union that covers both schools wanted to organize activities that included a "matching service" for young people under the theme "Caritas Cupid" and based around Thursday's Valentines' Day.

But Caritas ruled that such activities encouraged long-term dating.

The union was also told that alumni and Catholics generally could be unhappy about these activities and complain, and that would affect the institutions' reputations.

But a spokesman for Caritas denied it had banned the use of "Cupid." Rather, it claimed the union had not completed an application for any activities so the student affairs office could not issue an approval. The union should have submitted a comprehensive outline about the planned events, it added.

Still, people including alumni were astounded that dating is frowned upon even among students of tertiary education age.

This followed the student union posting on its Facebook page the claim that it had to call off the Valentines' Day activities after the schools' student affairs office banned the proposals.

There were two events under the theme "Caritas Cupid" scheduled from last Friday to this Friday. One was an anonymous matching service and the other a photo booth for couples.

Students of either of the Caritas institutions could fill in online application forms about themselves and criteria of an ideal other half. Then the union would match them from a pool of applicants.

The photo booth for couples would cost HK$10-HK$15 for each snap.

In a previous online post about the events the union said the activities targeted single students who did not want to spend Valentine's Day alone but did not know how to find a partner.

In a follow-up post the union listed three reasons Caritas gave for the ban: the word "Cupid" in the theme sounded like an encouragement for students to get into relationships, there was a fear the matching service would encourage students to pair up for longer-term relationships, and the photo booth was out because it carried a "Caritas Cupid" description.

"The union has fought with the schools several times and resubmitted [proposals] multiple times after revising the name and content of the events in the hope students could take part in them without twisting the purpose," it wrote. "But the schools and the student affairs office still disapproved of the activities and we failed in the end."

The union apologized to students, in particular to those who had filled out application forms for the matching service. But it still hoped to set up a photo booth so students could at least enjoy one campus event.

The situation has also sparked heated discussion, with many people criticizing Caritas for being unreasonably conservative and strict.

One netizen quipped that Caritas Institute of Higher Education should change its name to "Caritas Institution for Primary Students."

Another person, a woman who claimed to be a Catholic, said being in a relationship is a process of life, though it required individuals to learn to handle feelings and emotions. "Going to school means letting students experience social life as a group," she added. "Why don't you just close the school if you want to ban social life among students?"

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April 2019