Ad­viser’s ‘op­pres­sion’ led to death, sis­ter says

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By JIANG CHENGLONG jiangchen­g­long@ chi­

Wuhan Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy said on Sun­day that there was a close per­sonal re­la­tion­ship — like a father and son — be­tween a grad­u­ate stu­dent who killed him­self and a pro­fes­sor who served as his fac­ulty ad­viser.

The pro­fes­sor, Wang Pan, has been ac­cused by mem­bers of the stu­dent’s fam­ily of mis­con­duct when guid­ing the younger man’s study and ca­reer paths.

While the univer­sity ad­mit­ted that some mis­con­duct had oc­curred and sus­pended Wang from ad­vis­ing more stu­dents, it said some ac­cu­sa­tions were false.

The sis­ter of Tao Chongyuan, 26, at­trib­uted her brother’s death to Wang and was quoted in Bei­jing News on Sun­day say­ing that the univer­sity’s state­ment evaded cru­cial points.

“It didn’t men­tion any­thing about Wang’s teach­ing ethics, which had ob­vi­ous prob­lems,” said the sis­ter, whose real name was not used in Chi­nese me­dia. (She has been iden­ti­fied only by pseu­do­nyms.) “He at least de­serves be­ing sus­pended now, and I will sue him.”

Tao, a third-year grad­u­ate of the univer­sity’s School of Au­to­ma­tion, killed him­self by jump­ing from his dor­mi­tory on March 26, the univer­sity said, cit­ing the po­lice. The po­lice had ruled out foul play, it said.

Three days later, Tao’s sis­ter posted ma­te­rial on Sina Weibo, in­clud­ing pho­to­graphs and what she said were Tao’s chat records with Wang. She at­trib­uted Tao’s death to Wang’s “long-term spirit of op­pres­sion”.

Ac­cord­ing to the chats, Wang asked Tao to call him “father”, and Tao did so sev­eral times. The chats also in­di­cate that Wang asked Tao to buy lunches for him, wash clothes at his home and even pro­vide wakeup phone calls on many oc­ca­sions.

In ad­di­tion, the chats sug­gest that Wang re­quired Tao to “do­nate” part of his schol­ar­ship to Wang’s re­search in­sti­tute. Wang also threat­ened to can­cel most of Tao’s po­si­tions and hon­ors at the univer­sity to force him to con­tinue at the in­sti­tute as a doc­tor in­stead of study­ing over­seas or go­ing to work, the sis­ter said.

On Sun­day, the univer­sity said on Sina Weibo that “in­ves­ti­ga­tions found that Wang had a nom­i­nal father-son re­la­tion­ship with Tao, which is not part of teach­ing and re­search”.

It also said that Wang used in­ap­pro­pri­ate meth­ods in guid­ing Tao’s fur­ther stud­ies and ca­reer. But the univer­sity did not find other mis­con­duct, such as vi­o­lat­ing the stu­dent’s fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests, ob­struct­ing Tao from en­ter­ing higher uni­ver­si­ties or ask­ing him to per­form house­work at Wang’s home.

The state­ment said Wang’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion to en­roll grad­u­ate stu­dents un­der him has been sus­pended.

Wang has not spo­ken to the me­dia.

Ac­cord­ing to Bei­jing News and South­ern Me­trop­o­lis Daily, Tao was of good char­ac­ter and was an ex­cel­lent stu­dent. He had been re­warded with a num­ber of schol­ar­ships. Wang was one of Tao’s un­der­grad­u­ate teach­ers, the re­ports said, adding that Tao had com­plained many times to fam­ily mem­bers about Wang’s be­hav­ior.

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