Eleven postgraduate students at Tsinghua University — one of China’s elite academic institutions — were punished in the past year for a variety of offenses, including domestic abuse, impersonating faculty, truancy, and having an affair, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Sunday.
On Aug. 31, Tsinghua’s graduate school released its annual internal disciplinary memo for incidents occurring from September 2016 to July 2017. The memo named eight doctoral students and three master’s students who received punishments ranging in severity from warnings and demerits to probation and expulsion. The school wrote that it intended to “punish past mistakes to prevent future ones,” and to inspire students to more closely follow school rules.
One of those punished, a 33-year-old doctoral student surnamed Li, was given a “severe warning” because he had been dating someone who was not his wife for over half a year — which in Tsinghua’s view “violated social morality” and “had a negative impact on the school’s reputation.”
More serious infractions included stealing a staff member’s login information for the university’s online platform, and reporting a teacher for unethical grade modifications in the name of another student. The guilty party, a 24-year-old surnamed Han who had been pursuing a master’s in law, was expelled from the school.
The memo also referred to two students who abused their partners and were put on probation for one year. One of these men, a 33-year-old overseas doctoral student surnamed Wu, had repeatedly attacked and threatened his girlfriend. The other, a 25-year-old master’s student surnamed Jiang, had beaten his girlfriend while she lived in his dorm room.
And on June 1 of this year, a Ph.D. student-turned-voyeur surnamed Wang was caught in a women’s bathroom and given a demerit, according to the memo.
Two students, meanwhile, were admonished for appropriating Tsinghua’s sterling reputation for personal gain. A 31-year-old master’s student surnamed Yin, for example, had been masquerading as a Tsinghua alumnus to crash social events, such as information sessions for high schoolers. And a 36-year-old doctoral student surnamed Peng lied to police after losing his phone at an airport, telling them he was a Tsinghua employee with “nationally classified documents” stored on his device.
Tsinghua was not immediately available for comment, but a 24-year-old student at the school surnamed Huang told Sixth Tone that the memo, which had been posted on a website accessible only by students and faculty, has since been removed. “It’s routine for the school to announce these kinds of punishments,” he said.
In one schadenfreude-inducing case in April, another elite university — Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts — rescinded the acceptances of at least 10 incoming freshmen who had posted racist and sexually explicit memes in a secret Facebook group at one point titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.”
While previous media coverage has highlighted odd or draconian rules at Chinese universities, it is unusual for an internal discipline document from a top school to be widely circulated on social media.
Students at Beijing City University, for example, used to be punished for sleeping naked — a rule whose enforcement was inherently problematic. And in June, Ge Yulu, a student at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts who had already achieved some degree of notoriety for previous antics, was disciplined for allegedly attaching a dildo to the top of the university’s flagpole.
“Every school has scumbag — and of course Tsinghua is no exception,” a graduate of Tsinghua’s law school told Sixth Tone, adding that an individual’s level of education does not necessarily correlate with character. “But people have high expectations when it comes to top universities, so they might enjoy hearing about this.”
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: A view of a memorial arch at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Feb. 22, 2004. Wang Haixin/VCG)