Students cry 'foul' as dorm curtains banned

Zhu Qing
Universities justify ban on grounds of health and safety but students protest at this latest move in a larger trend of stricter regulations implemented by some institutions.
Zhu Qing
Students cry 'foul' as dorm curtains banned
Ti Gong

In a four-person dormitory at a university, bed curtains hang from every bed.

"Bed curtains," considered a "dorm survival tool" by many Chinese college students, have been banned by some universities.

The ban began in January at Northwest University for Nationalities, with the foreign language department of Gansu Minzu Normal University following suit in March. Other schools, including Zhangjiakou University, have also launched campaigns aimed at "rectifying" the bed curtain situation in dorms.

Universities justify the ban by pointing to potential safety hazards. They argue that curtains are flammable and can hinder air circulation, potentially leading to the growth of bacteria.

Some administrators believe curtains negatively impact dorm hygiene and lighting, while also discouraging interaction between roommates.

However, these reasons have been widely questioned by students. "Sheets are also flammable, why not ban them too?" "What about personal privacy for those living with three other roommates?" "Forcing social interaction with roommates who don't get along will only make things more awkward..."

For many students, bed curtains are more than just a decorative element. They see them as a way to create a private space in a communal living environment.

Everyone in dorms has different habits; some people like to stay up late studying or watching shows in bed, and with bed curtains, they won't disturb their roommates.

Additionally, blackout curtains can provide a comfortable sleeping environment for those sensitive to light.

Students cry 'foul' as dorm curtains banned

A student puts up a bed curtain in imperial style.

The bed curtain ban appears to be part of a larger trend of stricter regulations being implemented by some Chinese universities.

These regulations often evoke a sense of "high school."

Just recently, the School of Management at Qufu Normal University caused controversy by banning students from using electronic devices in class.

Meanwhile, a number of universities in Zhejiang have sent transcripts to parents at the end of the semester, which has also sparked protests from students.

These high school-like managements were questioned as early as 2013 when a survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of people favored abolishing mandatory lights-out times in dorms.

Wang Tianding, a professor at Ocean University of China, noted that the high school-like management of universities will make students more like high school students.

Indeed, as one CCTV commentary points out, most college students are already adults and are capable of independent thinking, action, and taking responsibility.

Universities should focus on fostering these qualities needed for adult life, not treat them like children who need constant supervision.

While safety and social interaction are important considerations, students also value privacy and the ability to manage their own space.

A more trusting approach that treats students as responsible adults might be a more effective way to achieve a positive and productive dorm environment.

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