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When It Commences and Concludes – All Online

Hai Wen, head of the PKU Shenzhen campus, is ready to reply to students' complaints — and apologized this time as PKU vice president — all online.



Peking University, Dec. 11, 2010: “If it could relax the complaining students even a little bit, I will move to live at the construction site till it completes! Don't you believe that?”


A blog entry written by Peking University professor Hai Wen was copied on Dec. 2 at Triangle board of BDWM, official bulletin board service of PKU. Considering Hai’s identity as the university’s vice president, together with his unusually impassioned words this time, the post attracted extensive concern from many online students, which kept it among the “top 10 topics” on the homepage of BDWM for days. The original article at Renren.com was also followed by a string of comments.


Prof. Hai Wen


In the article titled “Endurance is a Good Quality,” the dean of PKU Shenzhen Graduate School (PKUSZ) expressed his opinion on complaints of PKUSZ students, which mainly arose from the loud noise on Nov. 29 from the dormitory construction site on campus at midnight. "Incapably torn between the local government and the students," he suggested the latter group should make some sacrifices for the development of the school — just as what he has been doing — instead of useless grumbling. According to his observations, Chinese people appeared to be spoilt indulged and haggle over nearly every ounce, which PKU students must avoid with a quality of tolerance or perseverance.


The copied post (first three paragraphs) at BDWM


Apart from some focusing on the event itself, many comments showed the students’ astonishment to the existence of Prof. Hai’s real-name account at Renren.com. But actually, they are “infer to death” (BDWM jargon, describing those who are rather late to know something while unaware of their lateness), for there have obviously been quantities of  “fresh news” or updates in his blog.


Prof. Hai Wen's homepage, launched earlier this year, at Renren.com


A very rare case for a university administrator, though, Prof. Hai is not the only sample of “online professors.” Nowadays, with the surprisingly rapid boom of the Internet, lots of creative applications — online shopping, weblogs, social networking sites (SNS), and microblogs (weibo) for instance — have made a powerful influx to one’s daily life, which PKU teachers can hardly get away from. Therefore, different from simple faddisms, many of them choose to put “themselves” online besides teaching videos and PPTs.


Naturally, teachers from School of Electronics Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) have a good nose for what they study. Consequently, Renren.com was first occupied by a few of EECS head teachers and used as a notice board. Later, after more teachers registered, they took full advantage of the SNS as their students, with favorite music, photos, videos and monologues added to the homepages. Prof. Chen Jiang, who is more widely known as “idiot” at BDWM, has just posted the Xiaonei style the teachers created at Renren.com.


Another active ID is “douerwan,” with a retired professor from School of Archaeology and Museology behind in real life. The “Grandpa Dou,” or Prof. Wang Xun, has posted over 80,000 comments, most at “Triangle” and “Joke” board, participating in almost every hot topic. When chatting online, he behaves impishly, and is often intimately called “Dou Lao” by students online.


In this respect, Prof. Hai is quite similar to his colleagues.


It appeared in some comments that Hai was identified more as an official than a teacher. However, compared to neither the official weibo of the Beijing Public Security Bureau nor that of Wu Hao (vice director of Publicity Department, southwest China’s Yunnan province), few marks of the so-called “bureaucracy” could be found in Hai’s blog, which made this supposal feeble and in vain.


Noticing his article among the “top 10,” Prof. Hai posted another blog entry Why I wrote the piece on 'Endurance’ at Renren.com to respond, which was soon copied to BDWM as well. In this response, he explained the intention of his previous writing, “None of anger, grievance or a loss of ‘endurance’ was the reason why I wrote that article, not to mention passing the buck.” There were words indicating his understanding of a teacher’s “inevitable responsibility” to correct the students’ bad behaviors and share his life experiences with them.


At BDWM, most PKU students — despite whether at PKUSZ or not — were in support of Hai. For example, “jsxy” regarded Hai as a very genuine teacher, “I think we should talk about him calmly with respect.” In his eyes, “his clear attitude is fairly enough.”


Some of them felt compassion towards Hai. “If only Mr. Hai said nothing,” netizen “dryfishliu” expressed.


The event was likely to have a happy ending, with a formal apologetic letter put on Hai’s personal page at Renren.com and then copied on BDWM in the afternoon, two hours before the same article appeared on the official website of the PKUSZ:


"Dear students: Due to lack of supervision and coordination of the school administration, the construction work on Nov. 29 lasted too late at night, affecting your normal life. I apologize here to you all!  -- Hai Wen, vice president of PKU and dean of PKUSZ. Dec. 2, 2010."


Finally, like most of the topics at “Triangle,” Prof. Hai’s series of logs was gradually left behind without potential future tumults. And Hai himself seemed not as embarrassed at the disturbance as expected. On his personal page at Renren.com, he uploads photos, updates entries, and chats with thousands of his friends (including students, of course) just as usual.


“I just like it (the online environment of Renren.com),” Hai wrote in his blog entry. 



Background Info: 

Renren.com (formerly named "Xiaonei") is a Chinese SNS with an interface similar to that of Facebook.com. It is so popular among young people on the Chinese mainland that it has attracted over 100 million registrations. At present, 32,000 universities and colleges, 56,000 high schools, and 85,000 companies in China, and 1,500 universities in 29 other countries are available within its confirmation system. In the additional section of personal profiles, users can also put on information about their contact information, hobbies, favorite music, movies, the clubs they have joined, etc.


To mention the major use of Renren.com, leaving a message or commenting any of a photo, a blog and a “status” is quite commonly seen, for the interacting users leaving and replying the messages is considered a prominent instance of basic communication on it. Activities can be held online by calling on friends to take part. There are also several peripheral applications, such as “doggies,” testing, “parking lots,” and “selling and buying of friends.” 




Reported by: Jin Ludi

Edited by: Jacques

Copyright 2010 Peking University News | BeidaNews@pku.edu.cn