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2021-06-10 10:29:05

A university in Beijing has expelled a student for taking pictures in women’s restrooms, underscoring not just the harassment female students continue to face at educational institutions, but also how schools are handling such incidents.

The Central University of Finance and Economics on Tuesday said the third-year student, surnamed Nie, had violated the school’s rules, adding that the institution takes its students’ safety seriously. The school expelled Nie days after he was found taking pictures of female students in women’s restrooms across the campus.

According to students who shared their experiences on microblogging platform Weibo, Nie had a history of similar offenses and was previously barred from attending on-campus activities, but was still able to attend classes. The students claim that Nie had been caught on camera dozens of times taking photos outside women's restrooms, though the school had turned a blind eye until now.

Sexual harassment in higher education institutions has been a cause for concern, especially for female students. According to a national survey on the sex lives of university students published last year, some 15% of the women surveyed said they had been sexually harassed, with 4% saying the perpetrators were their teachers.

In recent years, students have been speaking out against campus harassment and demanding greater accountability from academic institutions. Many women are also sharing their personal experiences online, naming and shaming individuals for their actions.

Amid the calls for stricter actions, many academic institutions have ramped up measures to handle sexual harassment cases by firing professors and expelling students involved in such misconduct.

In 2019, China’s Ministry of Education urged universities to set up mechanisms to address sexual harassment on campus, while a separate government directive said educators found guilty of “adverse societal impact” may face a lifetime teaching ban depending on the severity of their misconduct.

In the wake of Nie’s expulsion from the Central University of Finance and Economics, many online are commending the school for its decision. A related hashtag has been viewed over 180 million times on Weibo as of Thursday.

“Good job, unlike some schools, which turned big problems into small ones, and small problems into no problems at all,” one user commented under a related post.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People Visual)