In the light of recent shootings on U.S. campuses and other acts of violence worldwide campus safety is a hot button issue at every university anywhere.
Because of the social structure of China there are certain things within the University that may seem backward, but for the most part they are seen as very normal parts of every University. The one thing I can think of specifically is curfew within the residence halls at Qingdao University. Curfew was something that the University saw as necessary for all the residence halls and even closed certain gates on the exterior of campus at certain times of the day.
Now mind you this is a mid sized Chinese City of 10 million, so it wasn’t like we were in the equivalent of a sleep college town in southern U.S. where all the stores close down at 6 pm because they’re all local businesses. I kept hearing people comparing Qingdao’s location in China to Boston in the U.S. So the equivalent of this would be Boston College, sorta. So when you think about campus safety these are the best terms for me to relate them to for those of you who have never experienced a Chinese city.
So curfew kept students under control for the most part. Some of the native Chinese students I was able to hang out with were very adamant that they be in before curfew, and if they missed curfew they would choose to stay out all night rather than come back late, because not coming back at all was better than showing up late and the door man knowing who you were.
I went with this idea while living in my hall for the summer as well. I was working for the office, and I didn’t want to get in trouble with the office, so I just decided to stay out those three times that I missed curfew, minus one time that I accidently missed. (Yes, that implies that the other three times were on purpose, let’s just say World Cup Games didn’t fit into a normal sleep schedule).
I had met the door man, and talked to him in my broken Chinese multiple times before. So I figured that we were friends, but this one time I showed up late, because I was coming from the Train Station from a short weekend trip and I arrived 10 minutes after the door man shut the door.
I first knocked on the door and got the door man’s attention who was on the other side of the door. He didn’t look happy. I ended up making it back inside, but I had to argue with him for a good fifteen minutes about how I live in this building. He didn’t seem to remember me, which I found very confusing. I hearken back to the thing my tour guide said to us when we were in Beijing, “All you Americans look alike”.
While sitting in on sessions with some of the campus safety officials, I found out how very structured and connected their security was. The curfew was just a small part of a much larger machine. Security is strict at most Chinese universities, but it seemed like there was always a way around it.
In a society that bases much of its social rules from collective social ideals, campus security seemed to be one place that it was almost not present. However, like all things in China, the Chinese way found it’s way back into much of it.
That is just how China is sometimes though. No matter what government controls China, no matter the different changes that China has gone through in the past decades; there still is that “something” about China that makes it Chinese.
As giants fight and politicians scream, normal people live their lives; just as they always have.