College plan “not aimed at radicals“
Peking University, Mar. 30, 2011: Peking University dismissed suggestions its new support program is aimed at censuring "radical" students, China Daily reported on Wednesday.
Debate has raged online and in the press ever since the university - commonly known as "Beida" - revealed plans to carry out consultations with struggling students in May.
However, Zha Jing, deputy director of the university's Office of Student Affairs, insisted the move is solely aimed at helping youngsters overcome problems that could potentially cause them to fall behind in class or even drop out.
"Problems we've discovered include difficulties getting along with other students and frustrations with relationships, which can have a negative impact on their study," she said in a recent interview.
Much of the controversy over the counseling has stemmed from a list of 10 key problems school officials aim to tackle, including youngsters with "radical thoughts." Critics raised fears that the program would stifle students' freedom to think or speak, while others claimed that such an action by one of China's most prestigious universities could set a worrying example for other institutions.
"The intention of the program is to help students solve problems that could result in them being withdrawn from the college," said another teacher in the Office of Student Affairs who asked only to be identified as Chen. She complained the public has paid too much attention to the term "radical."
"Maybe the term itself easily causes disputes, but students (with radical thoughts) have never been the main targets of the program," she told China Daily. "We've had no such examples during the trials (at the Yuanpei College and Health Science Center which have been running since November)."
Chen also emphasized that students who do not want to join the consultation are free to reject the offer, adding: "The consultation is not compulsory, but they are actually denying help by declining the offer."
In her interview, Zha Jing explained that consultations will focus on students who frequently fail exams or encounter difficulties in their studies, and provided several examples of students successfully overcoming their problems after receiving help through the college program, including one who asked to be enrolled.
The youngster was so addicted to online games they were unable to graduate on time, she said, before explaining that the student had asked to postpone their course for a year and got approval after undergoing consultations. Now the student is working hard and is expected to graduate, she said.
Although the consultation program was to be adopted across all departments in May, university officials have delayed its introduction to allow more time for further discussion.
Reported by: Wu Wencong
Edited by: Jacques
Source: China Daily