One of the worst experiences of being an undergraduate at Chinese universities, at least for me and most of my classmates, is early-morning running. We had to be at the track by 6 a.m., and we tried every possible way to get out of this morning routine. One method was to find a substitute runner to fake our attendance, but that only worked if the teacher did not have a good memory for faces. The classic excuse for the females in our class was: “It’s my day of the month.”
However, to curb the abuse of such excuses, a university in Shanxi Province recently came up with the idea of tracking every female student’s menstrual cycle. According to The Paper (in Chinese), Taiyuan Technology University, where every student at the school of economics and business administration needs to run four laps around the athletic track every morning at 6:30 a.m., has assigned a female student to keep track of her peers’ periods, and reject period excuses if they don’t fit the recorded timetable.
The move instantly attracted a wave of criticism on Chinese social media, with many internet users saying it’s a blatant invasion of privacy, and complaining that the tradition of morning running at Chinese universities is of no practical use. “First of all, this is creepy as hell. Second, do these decision makers know that some women’s periods are irregular?” one commenter wrote.
Facing the rising blowback online, Taiyuan Technology University told The Paper on March 19 that the method was introduced by some student leaders in some classes, and that the school had called for a stop to the practice. “Though the method is problematic, the goal is clear that we want to promote equality among students and encourage them to exercise more,” a school staffer said. “In fact, the morning running system is endorsed by many students.”
But not many internet users were convinced by its popularity. “Who are ‘many students?’ This is an absurd tradition that should have been abolished long ago,” one person commented.