Chi­nese univer­sity cur­fews stunt stu­dents’ per­sonal growth

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Katie Kelly

It is a fa­mil­iar scene for Chi­nese univer­sity stu­dents: It’s late at night, per­haps you were out hav­ing a feast with friends, or watch­ing a movie, or even study­ing at a cafe. How­ever, when you reach cam­pus you re­al­ize that the gates are closed and you are locked out!

At this point, most stu­dents find a way back into their univer­sity by climb­ing over a fence or shim­my­ing through an un­locked win­dow. How­ever, as this sit­u­a­tion plays out nightly on cam­puses across China, I as a for­eign ex­change stu­dent here am com­pelled to ask why lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties feel that they can­not trust stu­dents to man­age their own time?

Many have ar­gued that these rules are sim­ply a mea­sure to pro­tect Chi­nese stu­dents so as to make sure that they re­ceive the qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion they and their par­ents worked so hard for. Af­ter all, ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant in Chi­nese so­ci­ety, so it would make sense that univer­sity of­fi­cials would rather have stu­dents in bed at night than out drink­ing. But, this ar­gu­ment ig­nores an im­por­tant fact: Univer­sity stu­dents over 18 are le­gal adults.

The idea of a univer­sity cur­few is un­rea­son­able and out­dated. If stu­dents want to go out danc­ing and get­ting drunk, skip class the next morn­ing and fail their ex­ams, then they should be al­lowed to do so. Young peo­ple need to have the com­plete free­dom to make mis­takes so that they can learn from these mis­takes, which they won’t be able to do if their lives are con­trolled.

There are plenty of per­fectly le­git­i­mate rea­sons why stu­dents might want to be out at night. Twenty-fourhour cafes in Shang­hai are of­ten crammed with col­lege kids study­ing late due to the ex­treme pres­sure put on them to do well in school.

Many Chi­nese stu­dents also have part-time jobs and are send­ing money back home to their fam­i­lies in the coun­try­side. Hav­ing to deal with a cur­few lim­its their op­por­tu­nity to work a night shift, which re­ally is the only shift a stu­dent can work. Ad­di­tion­ally, if stu­dents are ex­pected to be re­spon­si­ble for the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of their fam­i­lies, then they should be con­sid­ered re­spon­si­ble enough to set their own bed­time.

On many cam­puses, the cur­few is the same on the week­end as it is on week­days. This means that stu­dents are un­able to go out on Fri­day night to de-stress af­ter a long week of sit­ting in lec­tures. If they can’t re­lease this stress, it will most likely have a long-term neg­a­tive im­pact on their men­tal and phys­i­cal health.

Based on my ex­pe­ri­ences here in Shang­hai, liv­ing on cam­pus is a good in­ter­me­di­ary step to­ward liv­ing on one’s own. For a spoiled Chi­nese stu­dent – and there are many – who has never be­fore lived apart from his he­li­copter par­ents, it might be dif­fi­cult at first to man­age their own sched­ule, but liv­ing on cam­pus helps with this ad­just­ment.

Most ev­ery­thing a stu­dent needs is pro­vided to them on cam­pus; there are af­ford­able din­ing and hous­ing op­tions, health ser­vices and lots of stu­dent clubs, ac­tiv­i­ties and events to keep them away from Shang­hai’s nightlife. It is the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment to help shel­tered stu­dents slowly be­come more in­de­pen­dent un­til they are ready to live on their own.

When you grad­u­ate, you leave cam­pus with ex­pe­ri­ence tak­ing care of your­self, which makes the ad­just­ment to pro­fes­sional life eas­ier. Stu­dents who live in dorms with strict rules do not re­ceive the free­dom that is nec­es­sary for per­sonal growth; many will strug­gle in their adult life be­cause of this.

While I rec­og­nize the good in­ten­tions of univer­sity of­fi­cials, plac­ing time re­stric­tions on stu­dents does more harm than good. The best solution, then, would be to phase out this ar­chaic pol­icy while en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to de­velop bet­ter per­sonal habits. Af­ter all, uni­ver­si­ties are sup­posed to teach stu­dents skills that will be im­por­tant in their adult lives, so what skill could pos­si­bly be more im­por­tant than self-dis­ci­pline?

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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