How to Treat “Wanderers” – The Beijing News

A commentary translated by CDT from the Beijing News

Beginning last week, all who want to audit classes at Beijing University will have to apply for an audit permit. These permits will have to be obtained in the first week of each semester, and applicants must have a certificate from their employers or schools before applying. The new rule intends to shut the door to educational opportunity on what are being called “society’s wanderers (Á§æ‰ºöÈó≤Ê∫∫Âëò).” Why? University authorities want to prevent these “wanderers” from disrupting school order on campus, while also reducing theft and other crimes. (Via Beijing Morning Post Nov. 9)

The reality is, a number of these people want to get into a school classroom so they won’t but forced to keep floating around with nothing to do. They want to change their fate by acquiring knowledge. The move by colleges keep their doors shut all but encourages these “wanderers” keep roaming without aim. The issue is not merely about Beijing University, but one about how to treat society’s so-called “wanderers.”

This rigid practice is a waste of society’s resources and a violation of the principle of . Unlike in the past, when hukou and other population management regimes kept rural or other people from going to the cities, Beijing is now largely free of restrictions on outsiders. But there are still places or practices that demonstrate a lack of respect for the interests of so-called “wanderers.” Web searches mislead people into thinking of the phrase “social wanderers” as a synonym for “potential criminals,” “potentially dangerous people,” or “potentially destructive forces.”

Beijing University is the country’s premium higher education institution. Its educational resources belong to the whole society and all the people, which of course includes “wanderers.” Of course the university’s facilities and resources should be devoted firstly to students on campus, but when there is extra space in a classroom, there’s no reason to so stringently restrict the participation of auditors. [Full Text in Chinese]

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