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2018-07-12 13:01:08

A tertiary institution in eastern China has come under fire after students revealed that staff forcefully evicted Chinese sophomores from their dorms so that international students could move in.

On Monday evening, a student from Wuxi Institute of Technology in Jiangsu province posted on microblog platform Weibo that to make room for foreign students, the school demanded that some Chinese students move out of their dormitory and into an older building that does not have 24-hour hot water. When they tried to negotiate, the student said, the school threatened to block them from graduating.

Although the student deleted the posts on Wednesday at a teacher’s request, they had already attracted public attention and ignited a barrage of criticism over the school’s decision.

On Wednesday, the school’s student affairs division responded saying that the eviction was part of a routine management protocol that places international students together. As more than 320 new international students will be entering the school for the academic year starting in September, 406 students living in a dormitory close to the existing foreign students’ accommodation were asked to move, the administration explained. As for hot water, the school responded that the students could simply use the public bathhouse on campus.

The statement said that students had been briefed about the relocation in advance and most had “moved out smoothly.” But a video shot by a student on Tuesday showed a different scene: Two teachers confront students who are refusing to relocate, and when the students try to negotiate, a male teacher says, “What solution are you expecting? Just move and let’s talk later. That’s it.” Soon, the argument escalates, and the crowd of students begin shouting “Get out!” at the teachers.

Sixth Tone could not reach the school for comment on Thursday, but the school’s publicity office told local media outlet Yangtse Evening Post that the attitude of the two teachers in the video was inappropriate and that school administrators had spoken with them about it.

The school’s statement on Wednesday drew comments from over 50,000 netizens, many of whom slammed the institute for pandering to foreigners and discriminating against Chinese students. A legacy of Western imperialism has left China with a strong sense of unjust favoritism toward foreigners, a concept called chongyangweimai — “blindly worshipping the foreign.”

The incident prompted many to discuss differing campus accommodation standards for students from the Chinese mainland and abroad. At many universities, four to six Chinese students share a room, while foreign students are given single or two-person rooms. Though foreign students are usually charged higher accommodation fees, many Chinese students nonetheless complain that schools favor international students.

Such debates will only grow more frequent as China’s intake of international students increases. From 2015 to 2017, the number of foreign tertiary students grew 10 percent each year. In May, the Ministry of Education was forced to clarify its spending after its 3.3 billion-yuan ($495 million) budget for international students was criticized by some as “an act of sabotage” against educational equality.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: A view of the Wuxi Institute of Technology campus in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, 2017. From the school’s Weibo account @无锡职业技术学院)