A security guard in northwestern China used pepper spray on students to “prevent chaos” while they collected their mobile phones after taking a test.
The incident happened Sunday morning during the undergraduate entrance exams for the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in Shaanxi province. Before the roughly 30,000 applicants sat for the test at a convention center, they were told to leave their phones at the entrance. After the exam concluded, the mass of students rushed to collect their devices, at which point a security guard started spraying people with pepper spray.
“[My daughter] only indirectly came into contact with pepper spray hanging in the air, but her eyes and skin are red and swollen,” a parent surnamed Pei told local newspaper Chinese Business View.
Li, an administrative employee of the academy, told Sixth Tone that the use of pepper spray was probably intended to prevent a stampede, but called it an “overreaction.” Li said that many parents have called the school to ask about what happened, and that the school is investigating the matter.
The school partnered with a security company to hold the exams, according to Li. “Security staff belonged to the company, and we are now looking into why the chemical was used,” he said.
In a similar case in August of last year, the police used tear gas on job applicants at a state-owned organization in Shanxi, a neighboring province in China’s north. Local authorities said at the time that police employed the gas out of necessity to prevent a stampede.
For the afternoon exams following the incident, the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts chose to collect students’ mobile phones separately in each examination room.
(Header image: VCG)