Can helping clean campus cultivate self-discipline?
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.
“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.”
“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.”