December 05, 2009

Controversial University Regulation: Love Birds Ineligible for Scholarships and Honors

Difficult to believe that in this day and age, there would still be educational institutions so conservative as to punish students for having boyfriends/girlfriends. Yet, this is exactly the latest rule to have come out from the Foreign Language School at East China Jiao Tong University (华东交通大学外国语学院). According to this policy, students struck by Cupid's arrow in 2008 and 2009 can become ineligible for academic distinctions and scholarships. The ban caused debates both within and outside of the university. During an interview, a school official claimed that their purpose is not to prohibit dating, especially not "mutually beneficial relationships." Nevertheless, when they consider candidates for the CCP or student nominations, love affairs and the potential repercussions are factors taken into account.

Protesters: romantic relationships should not be linked to eligibility for honors

Love and dating are no long taboo subjects in China. As the number of leftover men and women (people who are singles without marriage prospects) increases, even parents encourage their children to find suitable mates while still in school. Though East China Jiao Tong University has good reasons for implementing the ban, the curious reporter was intrigued to see how students react. Of those he interviewed, most voiced strong opposition, citing the "dating ban" as unnatural and contrary to common sense. Some predict that not only will the "rude interference" fail to curb the dating phenomenon, it might actually push students to rebel.

One sophomore girl who is already in a steady relationship was forced to go underground with her boyfriend. Any encounters on campus required extra caution, because neither wants to leave a bad impression on counselors and professors, which could jeopardize their academic future. One freshman commented, "Post-90s who do not date are a novelty. Even high schools have problem repressing love affairs, let alone universities. The school has [unwisely] caused much resentment among students by making the lack of romantic relationships a criterion for academic honors. Not only are the two not related in anyway, good students should qualify regardless of their romantic interests. Besides, what's wrong with falling in love?"

A few students even proposed that relationships are an indispensable life lesson, helping students to mature and stay emotionally balanced.

Supporters: Undergraduate years without a love life can be just as colorful and rich

A part of the student body expressed their support for the "dating ban." "Dormitories, campus roads, everywhere I see couples hugging and kissing in public. I have largely become immune. The sights used to cause me embarrassment, but after developing enough 'anti-bodies', I simply walk past without really noticing them." Zhang said with resignation. "Sometimes I still feel discomfort, especially when couples cuddle in libraries or classes. They create commotion and disrupt other students. Once I went through a lot of trouble to find a quiet spot to study. Just when I sat down, another pair arrived. You can imagine what happened after that."

Some students even bring their boyfriends or girlfriends to class. The flirting is disrespectful to professors and inconsiderate towards fellow students.

Sophomore Li told the reporter, "School without a love life can be just as colorful and rich." This student is quite active on campus. Outside of classes, his schedule is filled with extracurricular activities.

University: We do not oppose mutually beneficial relationships. We hope our good intentions will not be misinterpreted

The reporter also spoke to the Director of Student Management Office, Zhengcai Wu (吴正才). Director Wu told the reporter that most of the rumors floating around are exaggerated. The school does not prohibit freshmen and sophomore from becoming romantically involved, nor does the school disqualify students because of this reason alone. "We do not encourage young students to date. Thus when contemplating candidates for honors and enrollment into the CCP, relationships is one factor we consider.”

Although dating is understandable, it is unrealistic to expect all students to be "immune" [to public displays of affection] or give couples privacy. Additionally, most entering students are not mature enough to properly handle love affairs or to protect themselves. By enacting the ban, the university hopes to provide some guidance when it comes to romantic relationships. In any case, the primary duty of students is to study.

Most Netizens Against "Dating Ban" 

Although Netizens concede that the university has good intentions, most believe that the method is dreadful. Rather than a wholesale ban, the university should instead, among others, teach female students to learn to say no or make them understand that staying out all night is undesirable. A number of Netizens even assert that love and academics can proceed simultaneously; any regulation is unnecessary.

Experts Opinion

Many experts on youth psychology advise universities to adopt a more tolerant attitude toward dating. Education and proper communication with students on the subject of marriage are just a few good ideas.

赣一高校发"恋爱禁令" 与评优等挂钩 惹争议

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