This translation was originally posted at Education News China. The original article in Chinese can be found at: 大学生用胶带铁链圈占座位或花百元求购.

Students Occupy Study Space with Tape & Chains, Some Offer Hundreds of RMB for a Seat

Feb. 20, 2013

Jingchuwang reports: Although winter vacation has not yet ended and there is still some time before students return to campus, college students are already preparing for the test-taking battle by returning early and seizing seats in study rooms. Yesterday, a reporter at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan visited the Wen Su Building, where on the fourth floor, study rooms have been set up with hundreds of spaces in each room. However, all seats were already occupied, some wrapped up with tape, others locked with chains. Notifications were written on the seats that they were being reserved for students preparing for the graduate school entrance exams. On school online forums could also be found requests to purchase spaces.

Three thousand seats all taken up

“It’s just too crazy. I came yesterday. I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be a single desk,” said Wang Cheng, a third-year Zhongnan University of Economics and Law student in the accounting department as he cleaned up an old folding desk in his study corner while he sighed. He came back to school to prepare for the graduate school entrance exam specifically so that he could find a place to study, but he didn’t realize that in the school-designated area for study, all three thousand of the spaces would be snatched up so early.

Wang Cheng is still one of the relatively lucky ones; he was able to find a corner in one of the study rooms on the third floor, as well as salvage a folding desk from a pile of stuff discarded by previous students. He cleaned it up and made it a bit more stable, using bricks to raise it a bit, and then he finally had a place to study.

Behing Wang Cheng are the densely packed seats that have already been reserved. Chairs are put up on top of desks, clear or yellow tape holds the chairs and desks in place. Signs with words like “Occupied by Graduate School Examinee” and “Occupied by Legal Studies Graduate Exam Taker” are attached.

According to reports, the Wen Su Building was once a library, and was converted to study space when a new library was completed. One classroom can hold as many as several hundred students or just a few dozen, and the building has nearly three thousand spaces. The school has also become Wuhan’s only school to set up space exclusively for study use. Reporters found the same situation on all four levels of the building. Security staff at the building said the building was opened on the fourth day of the Chinese new year, and that on the fifth and sixth days, all of the seats were snatched up. Those who came late could only sign in exasperation, without a seat of their own.

Those without seats offer hundreds of RMB

In fact, the occupation of seats in this building is not something that’s happened only since the beginning of the Chinese new year. Long before the Spring Festival, when the previous batch of graduate school exam takers were finished with their tests and left, others started to come in and occupy treasured seats in good positions. Those students who came back after the Chinese new year could only take the marginal and leftover seats.

One third-year female student surname Cai talked to reporters on the third floor. She came back to school on the fifth day of the Chinese new year specifically to get a seat. “In the end, I found that all the good spots were already all gone.”

Reporters noticed big chunks of seats were all wrapped up together. Some were marked as belonging to a class, others were just marked as belonging to graduate test takers. On the school’s Nongqing Zhongnan online forum, user RotBlade1019 posted a “request to buy two seats.” There were more than ten similar posts with the words “purchase seats” in them, generally offering hundreds of RMB. However, browsing the forum for a while, reporters did not yet find any students selling off their own seats.

The school’s Wen Bo Building is open to students during the entire Spring Festival period. When reporters visited the building yesterday, they found a few students studying in each of the study rooms. One student among those studying told reporters he was unable to find space in the Wen Su Building, and so he had no alternative but to go to the Wen Bo Building.

It’s all study space, so why prefer one over the other? Mr. Qian, a security guard at the Wen Bo Building, explained that Wen Su Building is space specifically for studying, and that the Wen Bo Building is temporary study space. After classes start, students will not be able to study in Wen Bo building classrooms when classes are scheduled in them, which is why students really prefer space in the Wen Su Building.

One teacher at the school who did not wish to reveal their identity said that this kind of seat occupation is crazy. On the one hand, it shows the great passion with which students pursue their studies, but on the other hand, it exposes the current problem of lack of study space within the university.

 

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