China's prestigious Peking University is planning to enforce screening all its students for "radical thoughts," raising concerns that a lack of free thinking will stifle students in a place famed for open discussions.
Beijing Evening News reported Friday the university started a trial of the screening and consultation last November in its Health Science Center and Yuanpei College, which gets most of China's top students.
The trial is almost over and a full implementation is expected to be launched in June, according to the paper.
The system covers 10 categories: academic difficulties, radical thoughts, psychological fragility, poverty, registration changes, eccentricity, Internet addiction, job difficulties, serious illnesses and discipline violations. Those considered as having one or more of the above will get a consultation, during which they may be persuaded to change.
The wording of "radical thoughts" has come under the spotlight with most students opposing the idea of letting school staff members try to persuade those with sharp ideas to think and act normally, which is what the system is designed to do.
A junior at Yuanpei College said many students' ways of talking and thinking are quite unique and it is hard to tell who can be categorized as having "radical thoughts." "A wrong consultation will alter those students' personalities."
A postgraduate student surnamed Yang from the school of law said the university has been famous for its tolerance of all kinds of thinking, but the consultation would make people think the university is stifling students' independent thinking.
But some were in favor of the new policy, saying some students are just too arrogant and often criticize the university for petty things. "They should be sent to the lunatic asylum," one said.
Zha Jing, deputy head of the university's student work department, said the consultation will be focused on those who have academic difficulties and the main aim is to help them finish school.
But they will also pay attention to those with "radical thoughts" because some students often overstate small faults in school management work, Zha said, adding, "Some would even criticize the school after canteen food prices rose 20 cents."
About 10 students from Yuanpei College got the consultation mainly for academic difficulties, the paper said.
The school didn't confirm whether students are getting the consultation due to having "radical thoughts."