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Campus crimes arouse higher education rethink


18:49, April 19, 2013

SHANGHAI, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The poisoning to death of a postgraduate student at Fudan University in Shanghai has aroused debate among experts and the public, some of whom are questioning China's education system as they recall similar cases involving promising youth on campus.

Huang Yang, 28, a third-year grad student at Fudan University, was pronounced dead due to multiple organ failure on April 16.

Shanghai police have detained Huang's roommate, surnamed Lin, on suspicion of poisoning Huang with N-Nitrosodimethylamine, a highly toxic chemical compound.

Fang Ming, a spokesman for Fudan University, said there was no academic competition between Huang and Lin. Though both medical students, they did not have the same major and worked as interns at different hospitals, he said.

Police are continuing investigation into the case, Fang said.

Fudan University has strengthened psychological counseling and control on experimental drugs, the spokesman added.

The controversial incident has been widely discussed on China's Twitter-like microblog Sina Weibo.

A subsequent pair of violent campus crimes have even added fuel to the flames.

Media reported on April 18 that a sophomore student in east China had allegedly stabbed his roommate to death in a fight over a triviality. The 22-year-old suspect, surnamed Yuan, was said to be a high-flying student who often studied late into the night.

The victim, surnamed Jiang, 24, failed to respond to treatment after being sent to hospital. They both studied at Jincheng College, affiliated to Nanjing University of Aeronautics And Astronautics in Zhejiang Province.

The other new case involves a student wounded by stabbing at a vocational school in Zhangjiagang City, in Jiangsu Province.

And the intrigue has been spurred by similar shocking cases in the recent past.

In 1994, Tsinghua University student Zhu Ling, a chemistry major, suffered severe brain damage after being poisoned with thallium. There was speculation that Zhu's roommate was responsible, but charges were never pressed and the case remains unsolved.

In 1997, two students of Peking University survived being poisoned by their classmate with thallium. The aggressor was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 2007, three students of the Xuzhou-based China University of Mining and Technology also survived being poisoned by their friend, who was never tried after it was revealed he suffered a psychological disorder.


Huang Hongji, director of the Shanghai Youth Research Institute, characterized Huang Yang's killing as an extremely particular case.

According to official statistics, cases of theft accounted for 80 percent of crimes in Shanghai from January 2012 to April 2013, with murder and intentional injury taking up just five percent.

"But it is time to rethink our higher education system," according to Huang Hongji.

The typical college students of this era, born after the 80s and early 90s, is an only child, inclined to be spoiled and selfish, he said.

On the other hand, a dearth of care from school or instructors amid expanding enrollments into universities has proved to be another problem, Huang Hongji added.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, echoed his opinions, saying Chinese have come to value "success" more than moral education.

Xiong told a Xinhua reporter that though the education system isn't wholly to blame for the poisonings, it needs to be improved.

"Our education focuses too much on professional education and ignores moral education. If a student lacks an understanding of their duties to society, he or she might use extreme methods to solve some difficulties in life," Xiong said.

He also suggested strengthening the psychological and moral education of students would help them to solve difficulties in communications.

Yin Xiaohu, a professor with the Law Institute of Shanghai Academy of Social Science, recommended students be cultivated with legal education and be made to understand the consequences of violating the law.

Yin said these students' ignorance of the value of lives, whether their own or other people's, has alerted society to include responsibility, respect and tolerance in civil education.

"These rows of campus crimes, should not be blamed on students or schools in isolation, but considered the results of an accumulation of issues. Laying the blame is always easy while the vital point is how to improve and bring an end to such tragedy," according to the legal academic.

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