Student backlash prompts McMaster University to remove Hong Kong Police Force job postings

McMaster University removed two job postings for positions with the Hong Kong Police Force advertised to students after complained the advertisements made the school complicit with police brutality in Hong Kong.

The school promptly removed the job listings after complaints from students

McMaster University was the subject of online criticism after sharing job postings to join the Hong Kong Police Force. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

McMaster University removed two job postings for positions with the Hong Kong Police Force advertised to students after complaints the advertisements made the school complicit with police brutality in Hong Kong during a violent crackdown on street protests.

On May 7, a student group called McMaster Stands with Hong Kong complained to the institution and on social media about the job listings, accusing the university of aiding HKPF's recruitment.

The two advertised HKPF positions were "probationary inspector" and  "program outreach."

"McMaster University, by doing this, enabled the human rights violations in Hong Kong," said a spokesperson for McMaster Stands with Hong Kong.

"They are actively making the situation worse if they are helping facilitate the recruitment for the Hong Kong Police Force."

A screenshot shows the two job listings, one to join the Hong Kong Police Force as a program outreach and another to join as a probationary inspector. (Submitted by McMaster Stands with Hong Kong)

The Hong Kong police force has been condemned for its treatment of demonstrators against a controversial extradition bill that would allow detainees to be transferred to mainland China. 

Police have fired live ammunition at protestors and used tear gas.

The extradition bill was later withdrawn in September 2019, although protests continued for several months. Protesters demanded voting rights and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

"The university removed the posting shortly after it appeared," read a statement from McMaster University to CBC News.

U of T and UBC students also outraged

HKPF job postings also appeared on student job boards at the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, prompting anger from some students groups at each school.

UBC's student group, The Enlightenment of HK, and U of T's student group, UofT HK Extradition Law Awareness Group, both sent formal complaints to their respective universities.

A screenshot of a job posting on the University of British Columbia website shows a position as a probationary inspector with the Hong Kong Police Force. (Submitted by The Enlightenment of HK at University of British Columbia)
A screenshot of a job posting on the University of Toronto website shows a position as a police inspector with the Hong Kong Police Force. (Submitted by HK Extradition Law Awareness Group at the University of Toronto)

Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC, said the job posting for a probationary inspector position would be "removed in accordance with our standard practices" noting that "postings are up for a set period of time and then they are removed."

"UBC's Centre for Student Involvement & Careers follows all provincial and federal guidelines in its employer recruitment practices. As always, the decision on whether to apply for a posted employment opportunity rests with our students who make their career decisions independently," Ramsey told CBC News in a statement.

"We provide support to students to research organizations and determine if opportunities are aligned with their interests and values. In matters such as this, UBC would encourage students with concerns about employers to contact those employers directly."

The University of Toronto sent CBC News a similar statement, but did not say if it would remove the posting.

Student group left with questions

The McMaster student group wonders what the criteria is to have a job listed on the website.

"The message they originally sent to the student body was ... they don't really care where McMaster graduates go off to work and they're just happy to throw us anywhere," the McMaster Stands with Hong Kong spokesperson said.

The school's statement noted the university "reviews postings regularly and makes determinations at its discretion based on a wide range of factors that may impact student employment."

The student group says McMaster University should have released a public statement about the incident.

"The lack of a statement is a little shady because they did it very quietly as if they didn't want to draw any attention to it ... it makes it unclear as to what their intentions are and if they plan on putting it back up later when we're not looking," the spokesperson said.

"But the most important thing here is they did take it down which means they did take our concerns seriously."


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

With files from The Associated Press