Can help­ing clean cam­pus cul­ti­vate self-dis­ci­pline?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SU ZHOU suzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A uni­ver­sity in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, has re­placed some of its clean­ing staff with stu­dents, say­ing this could “help cul­ti­vate an aware­ness of self-dis­ci­pline and ser­vice among stu­dents”.

Stu­dents at Qing­dao Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy have been tasked with clean­ing the school twice a week in groups of four or six. Their per­for­mance is be­ing graded, and which­ever of the uni­ver­sity’s eight col­leges re­ceives the high­est grade is awarded 10,000 yuan ($1,440) each month.

How­ever, some stu­dents are not happy about the prac­tice, es­pe­cially with fi­nal ex­ams ap­proach­ing.

YES

“I think it is a good way for stu­dents to re­al­ize the im­por­tance of keep­ing pub­lic spa­ces clean. Many stu­dents are spoiled by their par­ents and don’t know the hard­ships that clean­ing staff face. Uni­ver­sity is not only a place for stu­dents to learn and take ex­ams, but also to prac­tice other skills. Many have said that the uni­ver­sity in­sti­gated this prac­tice be­cause it wants to save money. How­ever, it has to pay ex­tra money to re­ward the stu­dents who per­form best. It is not phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment but an in­no­va­tion of ed­u­ca­tion. Be­sides, one hour of clean­ing ev­ery day is not very long, not to men­tion the fact that stu­dents can take shifts.”

“Back in the days when I was in col­lege, we had to clean the whole cam­pus and no one com­plained about it. It was our cam­pus, and we were happy to keep it clean. Nowa­days, young­sters pay too much at­ten­tion to them­selves and think less about oth­ers. Go­ing to col­lege is not like pur­chas­ing a prod­uct, where af­ter you have paid the money, you can do what­ever you want. Stu­dents in col­lege should think about how to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety by first think­ing how to con­trib­ute to the uni­ver­sity.”

NO

“Spend­ing tens of thou­sands of yuan on re­ward­ing stu­dents for clean­ing is a waste of ed­u­ca­tional re­sources be­cause pro­fes­sional clean­ing staff may cost less money. Ed­u­ca­tional re­sources are pub­lic re­sources; the uni­ver­sity should think about whether this is the best way to spend this money. Ed­u­ca­tion is all about guid­ing, not forc­ing. I don’t think stu­dents can re­ally learn any­thing if uni­ver­si­ties only want to mo­ti­vate stu­dents with money.”

“The cul­ti­va­tion of self­dis­ci­pline and ser­vice could be done with­out mak­ing stu­dents clean. There is no ev­i­dence to show that phys­i­cal work can re­place or en­hance a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. The tu­ition fees stu­dents pay to uni­ver­si­ties in­clude the pub­lic ser­vice fee. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the uni­ver­sity to pro­vide this ser­vice. Be­sides, the stan­dard for judg­ing stu­dents’ qual­ity of work should be their de­vo­tion and will­ing­ness to take re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

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