Beijing Normal University professor “warns” students through Weibo: If you don’t have 40 million yuan by the time you are 40, do not come visit me and do not tell people you were my student
“Don’t say you are my student, if your bank account has less than 40 million yuan when you are 40 years old.” This is what university professor Dong Fan posted on Sina Weibo early April, which set off fierce discussions and controversy among netizens.
Dong Fan, the director of Real Estate Research Institute of Beijing Normal University, told his graduate students that they should not go around identifying themselves as his students or come to see him if they haven’t made at least 40 million yuan by the age of 40.
In his Weibo post, Dong wrote, “nurturing students’ wealth awareness is my duty. Of course, the prerequisite is that they should earn their money legally. Becoming wealthy means a lot, including creating GDP, taxable income, and jobs. If you are rich, you can contribute a lot to society and help people with low incomes, while also keeping yourself and your family from becoming a burden on society. For people with advanced degrees, being poor equals failure and disgrace.”
As a scholar of real estate, Dong Fan was labeled by netizens as an “enemy of people” earlier this year for making statements that appeared to defend the soaring property prices, such as “real estate is rescuing China” and “opposing the property boom is opposing human beings.”
By April 8, his latest post had drawn nearly 9,000 comments and was reposted 20,000 times. Various Chinese media also paid close attention to the latest controversy coming our of Weibo.
Discussion mainly focused on whether it is proper for a professor to say such words, especially that part about poverty equating to failure for the highly educated.
Huang Yiping, a professor at Peking University, expressed his strong disagreement with Dong Fan’s view on Weibo. “Is wealth the only standard to judge whether a person is successful or not? I prefer for my students to lead happy but normal lives.”
Another netizen, “Sunshine Ellen2011,” wrote: “Fortunately, I am not Professor Dong’s student, or I would have no face to see him…Why do I feel that it is becoming more and more difficult to earn money solely through hard work? It seems that rent-seeking and speculation are the short-cuts to wealth! Fewer and fewer scholars stand up for normal citizens, but there are more and more of them speaking for different interest groups.”
Although many people expressed their disappointment and even outrage towards Dong’s words, there were others who said they understood his point of view.
Ren Zhiqiang, the property tycoon, wrote on his Weibo that the comments were simply an expression of Dong’s expectations for his students. Another Weibo user, “Wu Pingwei,” commented that, based on a conversation with the professor, at present rates of inflation, by the time his students (now in their early 20s) reach middle age, 40 million yuan will be the equivalent of 8 million yuan in today’s money. Since an ordinary (but not luxurious apartment) in a second tier city like Wenzhou already costs 8 million yuan, Dong’s demand was not too high for those at the top of society’s pyramid, according to this line of reasoning.
Xinhua.com, the website of the official news agency, reported the online discussion on April 8, quoting a sentence from a report on People.com.cn, another state-level website, that with his status as a teacher, Dong spoke the big words always said by philistines.
Others were prompted to question what is wrong with higher education in China.. Since last year’s “Yao Jiaxin case,” in which a university student stabbed a farmer to death after hitting her with his car, the public began to express more concern with China’s university system.
Netizen “Gao Pan 41” wrote that for most people, a college degree only means a title; take that away, and we are nothing but individuals.