Nanchang University dismisses two deans over sexual assault scandal

Society & Culture

Accusations of sexual assault and a subsequent cover-up in a Chinese university may have cost two deans their jobs.

On Tuesday, Weibo user @喝咖啡的猫11 (@Hekafeidemao11) published a post claiming Zhou Bin 周斌, as vice dean of Nanchang University in Jiangxi Province, lured multiple female students into joining a study group by offering them nice meals and private tutoring. Once they were in his group, Zhou would ask them for small favors — such as ordering takeout for him, going to his office to wake him up from afternoon naps, or giving him massages — all the while bragging about his dissolute romantic history.

@Hekafeidemao11 relates one specific case of a girl named Xiao Rou 小柔 (not her real name; also, the Weibo poster’s relationship with Xiao Rou is unclear). According to @Hekafeidemao11, in 2016, Zhou confessed his love to Xiao Rou, forced her to kiss him, and “played with his penis in front of her and molested her.”

After the incident, Zhou told Xiao Rou to keep quiet about it, lest it influence her graduation status. Frightened, Xiao Rou didn’t report the case, and endured sexual assaults from Zhou for seven months. After graduation, Xiao Rou experienced severe psychological trauma, and even tried to commit suicide more than once. “Only after psychological counseling and treatment did she find the courage to stand up and speak out, to disclose what happened,” @Hekafeidemao11 writes.

According to @Hekafeidemao11, Xiao Rou said she tried to report the case to Cheng Shuijin 程水金, then the dean of the School of Chinese Classics, but he also asked her to not say anything. Screenshots of WeChat conversations between Xiao Rou and Cheng show the professor telling her, “Don’t let [any] situation happen, it won’t be good for you or the school. The correct thing is to pretend nothing happened.”

“Okay,” Xiao Rou replies.

In another screenshot, Cheng says, “Forget about him! You’re right in some regards, you can’t ruin yourself and your school’s and your classmates’ future.”

“I think I need an apology,” Xiao Rou says. “A sincere apology.”

“No need, also unnecessary,” Cheng replies. “It’ll make no difference. Do you think it’s necessary? I don’t think it’ll make any difference.”

On Wednesday, Nanchang University took swift action by dismissing both Zhou Bin and Cheng Shuijin. The decision was announced matter-of-factly on the university’s Weibo account at 6:54 p.m., though it made no mention of Xiao Rou or the specific accusations levied against either man.

Five hours earlier, at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nanchang University’s Weibo account announced that the university’s special work team had contacted the accused men, and confirmed that the day before, an accuser had reported “a case” to the police. There were no mentions of sexual assault.

On Weibo, many internet users expressed anger. But a lot of users praised the university’s speedy response. “An announcement in one day, what school other than Nanchang can do likewise?” one commenter said. Another expressed hope that the school doesn’t get blamed, writing, “After all, the school doesn’t want to have those kinds of teachers.” Others praised the students, with one saying, “Looking over the comments, Nanchang’s students seem like a high-quality lot.”

As Simone McCarthy reported for SupChina earlier this month, a survey by Peking University’s School of Public Health found that 35 percent of college students have experienced gender-based discrimination or sexual violence at some point.