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Access to campuses sparks fierce debate

Some universities have kept restrictions to public entry while others are letting people in

By Zhao Yimeng | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-26 07:13

Students and faculty staff move around the Beijing Institute of Technology campus on Dec 28. The institute also allows the public to enter the campus after checking ID cards. [Photo/China Daily]

Students' thoughts

Chen Bingzhe, a 21-year-old student at Tsinghua University, believes campuses should be open to the public with a daily limit on visitors to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for the faculty staff and students.

"For individuals outside universities, touring a campus is a good way to understand higher education institutions and experience the academic atmosphere, especially for young people. Universities are expected to provide a channel for external communication," Chen said.

However, during the pandemic shutdown students had more resources and space for activities, which improved the quality of school life and removed any security risks, he said. "The university should set a specified limit and give access to visitors without unduly affecting life on campus," Chen said.

Wang Chenyang, a student at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, said blocking access to campuses results in a waste of resources, such as use of activity areas and cafeterias. "Most universities are equipped with activity areas and sports facilities. Properly opening them to the public can contribute to the promotion of nationwide fitness," the 22-year-old said.

"But opening them up should not cause chaos or disrupt students' normal academic and daily lives because campuses primarily serve students and are places where they study and live," he said.

Reasonable plans to open up campuses should be based on a university's capacity and improved management, Wang added.

Zhao Yingwen, a 60-year-old Beijing resident, said he used to take a walk after dinner in Beijing Normal University, which is located in his neighborhood. However, even before the imposition of the pandemic-related restrictions his access was stopped on the pretext of the university improving campus security.

"The closing of access to the campus had an impact on my daily exercise. I could no longer enter the campus without a faculty card or a meal ticket," Zhao said. The campus still remains closed to the public, he said.

Ma, the researcher, said university campuses could be opened in stages in a way that suits the requirements of different universities. "For instance, the process could begin by first allowing access to a university campus, followed by access to buildings such as libraries," Ma said.

Policies should also be developed to protect the rights of each university in the reopening process in case they encounter problems, he said.

Visitors should adhere to school orders and not damage the environment or interrupt campus management, he added.

Yan Zhongqian contributed to this story.

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