A prestigious Chinese university’s alleged attempt to silence a student #MeToo campaigner has resulted in a rare public backlash.
Moves to silence a #MeToo campaigner spark creative resistance
The elite Peking University has come under fire for allegedly trying to press a student to drop her demand for information about a sexual misconduct case from 20 years ago.
In an open letter to the university on Monday, Yue Xin, an undergraduate, said school officials had tried to intimidate her into dropping a request for the university to release information about an investigation of a former professor.
The professor was accussed earlier this month of sexually assaulting a female student in the 1990s. Her parents alleged that the assault ultimately led to her suicide. The university issued an an administrative warning to the professor for his “inappropriate behavior” several months after her death.
As censors scrambled to scrub Yue’s open letter from the internet, her supporters have resisted, in both traditional and high-tech ways.
Students at Peking University apparently put up posters in protest of the school’s treatment of Yue. The posters were later believed to removed by secuity officers.
On Monday, an anonymous user posted Yue’s letter to the cryptocurrency platform Ethereum’s blockchain, theoretically preventing anyone or any government from removing or altering it.
might be 1st attempt in China to use blockchain to fight censorship, click “covert to ascii” to read translation of PKU student Yue Xin’s open letter. She was pressured by school officials after asking PKU to release information of a #metoo case 20 yrs agohttps://t.co/uFF4KGPwmc— Li Jing (@bylijing) April 23, 2018
Social media users have also resorted to posting an image of the letter upside down to evade detection and censorship.
Peking University’s response has shifted the public’s ire from the professor accused of misbehavior to the school itself.
As Yue’s name was blocked by the social media site Weibo’s search engine on Tuesday, users have taken her case to the university’s official page, flooding it with angry comments.
“Where is Yue Xin?” said one comment that got over 3,300 likes.
“Even China’s top school is like that, I feel really disappointed,” another comment said.
Looking at my WeChat "Moments", it's clear the poor old censors are working overtime scrubbing anything to do with Peking University or Yue Xin (岳昕) from the web. As a BeiDa alum, I'm embarrassed for my old school. What a disgrace to the memory of May 4th activism.— Donald Clarke (@donaldcclarke) April 24, 2018
In an online response on Monday, the university’s School of Foreign Languages, where Yue studies, said it respects the “basic rights” of students and strives to protect their legitimate interests.
The global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse has gained momentum in Chinese universities this year.
Since January, a number of sexual misconduct allegations against university professors have prompted public outrage in China.
China’s education ministry has responded by pledging a “zero tolerance” policy against sexual harassment on campus, while the universities involved also promised thorough investigations.