University apologizes over 'inappropriate option' in buddy program

Shandong University is in hot water after a "buddy program" was accused of pairing male international students with multiple female partners.

Shandong University apologized on Friday for having the option of “making foreign friends of opposite sex” in an application form for a buddy program.

In a statement released on the university's Weibo account, the school apologized for the inappropriate option that caused an “adverse social impact.”

The university denied that in the program one male international student had been given three female Chinese buddies. It said the program was intended to promote study and improve cultural exchange by having students learn from each other. 

The buddies were selected from volunteers and the program was very popular among both international and Chinese students. 

Recent social media reports claimed that SDU allocated 141 buddies for 47 international students in 2018; most of them female. Their international partners, however, were mostly male.

According to thePaper.cn, the application forms listed six options including improving foreign language skills and experiencing a new culture.

The statement said the university would evaluate the feedback and make appropriate changes for the future.

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