Beijing University does not tolerate “extremists”

From ifeng, Witten by Shen Bin, (a legal worker) | translated by Ivan | edited by Key


Once a 23-year-old student in Qinghua University wrote down a “strong flavored” story about incest between son and stepmother, between older brother and younger sister with the same mother but different father… Do you think this student an “extremist”?

The student is Caoyu, a renowned Chinese playwright, and the story is called “Thunderstorm”.  He was lucky that he didn’t live in today’s Beijing University. Otherwise, he would have been a target in the “Academic Conference & Consultation” because of his “extreme thinking”. He might also have been demanded to confess: how come he had so much dirty thoughts? Why he resented the rich so much? What his next step was?

According to the report of the Xi’an Evening News, starting from the beginning of May this year, Beijing University will promote the “Academic Conference and Consultation” system aiming towards ten categories of “Key Students” all across the campus. The ten categories are students with academic difficulty, extreme thinking, who are psychologically fragile, in poverty, frequently change enrollment status, live independently, addicted to Internet, have employment difficulty, suffering from serious disease and rule violators who are under disciplinary actions. Cha Jing, deputy secretary of student affairs office of Beijing University, particularly expressed that besides students with difficulty in their study need to be consulted, some students who constantly exaggerate the small deficiency in school work like “criticizing school randomly just because cafeteria raised the food price by 0.20 yuan”, will also become the target of the consultation and investigation.

Such a large campus cannot even tolerate a little criticism about the food price increase. The school authority said, “the Conference and Consultation System is mainly aimed at students with academic difficulties.  Actually they “killed two birds with one stone”—— including students with “extreme thinking” also will under their control? More interestingly, “living independently” has also become a crime. Is this a goal of Beijing University’s to teach students to live with strict dependence? Isn’t it targeting “extreme thinking” and “independent living” really meant to target “independent thinkers”? What would principal Cai Yuanpei, who put forward the idea of “all-inclusive and open-minded” have react to this? Maybe all he could have done is just to say,“all mighty student affairs office!” and follow by tears and silence.

There will be no innovation without freedom of thinking, there will be no free thoughts without inclusiveness towards the so-called “extreme thinking”. If a free space is provided for the “minority”, the world will boast surprises of innovation; if it is shackled, emasculated or even twisted, talents will be made into mediocrities.  Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, who created the most popular social network Facebook in his university days, just intended to provide a platform to chase after girls or contact among dorms. If he was in Chinese universities initiating the creation of Facebook, he would have been regarded as with a bad taste and would be doomed to be the target.

Here is another example from Beijing University. Zhang Zhongxing, known as masters of Chinese culture together with Ji Xianlin in Beijing University, in his university days, cohabited and had a daughter with 17-year-old Yang Mo——author of “Song of Youth”. Master Zhang’s academic achievement might not be necessarily related to his early unruly behaviors. But a university does not even tolerate students’ complaints about the increased price in the cafeteria is definitely not going to be able to groom masters. Ancient poem goes,“the towering pine trees is now reaching the sky thanks to the grace of the woodchopper. ”But how many big trees would be cut down by today’s “conference and consultation” system of Beijing University?

Besides, this “extreme gate” scandal in Beijing University has apparently shown the bureaucratization of universities. This “conference and consultation” system has straightly constrained the thinking of students and harmed the soul of Beijing University’s educational liberty. However, it was suggested by the student affairs office, the government of university. Obviously, all things like professors governing universities and intellectual autonomy are all nothing, but floating clouds. Student affairs office is the real deal.

The bureaucratization of universities turns university officials into risk evaders. That is to say: the achievement of students will not be counted as their contribution, but the trouble they cause will definitely be seen as their fault. Therefore, nine and a half out of ten universities claim “Innovative and realistic” as their school motto, but university officials can seldom tolerate students to “be creative” and making trouble for them. Some extreme thinking will even be investigated and consulted by school, let alone any action.

“A man’s entire dignity lies in thinking.” In an era without tolerance, without the rights to heresy, without differences, every single one will become pyramid or terra cotta, but never a great thinker or having independent personality.

Beijing University, who will not tolerate “extremists”, can it still be the nationally admired home of great thinkers? May I ask,who dictates today’s world of Beijing University?

  1. The title and the article says ‘Beijing’ University in several places. This is incorrect. It is ‘Peking’ University.

  2. If other universities don’t follow this policy – then it’s not a problem, just less popularity of Peking University.

  3. Just another example of how the CCP corrupts everything.

    The faceless polluted filthy bureaucrats who line their own pockets and destroy anyone who dares to question them will always demand the most rigid and simplistic displays of moral purity from others.

  4. In the Latin-american dictatorship years, the university students (and some teachers as well) were the most important focus of resistance… Not a suggestion, just saying.

  5. Beijing University- the campus is very lovely, one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere. I hope they don’t destroy it by building monstrosity, horrendous architecture like the buildings constructed in the 1990s (luckily several of which have now been torn down or given severe face-lifts to reduce their hideousness)

    But the university, as an institution that encourages independent thinking, imagination, tolerance and socialist values (real socialism, not fake top-down repressive Chinese style, but bottom-up grassroots emphasis on democratic decisions striving for social and economic equality)— is a near-complete failure. Many of we foreign students doing MA or PhD degrees would all agree- there’s not really any campus spirit, students have no place to gather or exchange any real ideas, there is no independent student’s union, class discussions are limited and dull, the professors are so busy with outside projects and making money that they offer little to no help or inspire to their grad students.

    Overall, it’s a sad excuse for top-level institution- and certainly it does not deserve it’s reputation as a ‘world leading’ institution. Nearly any no-grade, small, relatively unknown university in the West offers a better, more well-rounded education capable of producing independent thinking, innovation and nice people.

    It could become a leading institution, but business and government must stop meddling in education first. That’s not likely to happen for a long time. The universities not just churn our workers that maintain the status-quo– ownership of everything by the power-holders.

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