Two top universities deny cat abuser admission to postgrad programmes

BEIJING: A postgraduate candidate with a history of abusing cats was rejected by two top Chinese universities, sparking discussions recently on the importance of moral assessment during the admission process.

The student, surnamed Xu, was accused of abusing cats at his dormitory at Southeast University in Nanjing (pic), Jiangsu province, and posting the videos online in February. One of the clips shows him putting a cat into a bucket of water and treading on its head.

Nanjing's public security bureau launched an investigation and interviewed Xu and his parents. Xu had admitted wrongdoing and promised not to repeat similar behaviours, it said.

The engineering graduate applied for a master's programme at Nanjing University's School of Physics late last year. An enrolment report showed earlier this month that he was rejected by the university, even though he had the highest total score among the applicants.

Many assumed that the refusal was related to Xu's history of animal abuse, as several netizens told the school that Xu had serious moral issues.

Admissions staff responded that they comprehensively evaluated candidates' performances in postgraduate entrance examinations and interviews, and his abuse of cats may have affected their decision.

After the refusal from Nanjing University, Xu was found on a waiting list for Lanzhou University, in Gansu province.

Since last week, netizens commenting on the university's Sina Weibo micro blog account urged the school to be cautious about enrolling Xu.

Comments such as "Don't accept students with bad behaviours" and "Morality prevails over intelligence and academic performance" dominated the posts in recent days.

On Monday night, the School of Nuclear Science and Technology at Lanzhou University released its admission list — without Xu's name — marking the second refusal from a top university.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative opinions expressed on social media platforms, public opinion leader Hu Xijin, a former editor-in-chief of Global Times, called on Sunday for Xu to be given an opportunity as a young person just beginning his life journey.

"Posting the video of animal abuse was clearly a serious mistake, indicating his potential psychological issues," Hu said. "

However, society should provide the student with an opportunity for correction, allowing this young person to have prospects and hope."

He said denying Xu admission to Nanjing University was already severe punishment, and he hoped Xu truly regrets his actions and reshapes his values, and that public opinion does not "hunt him down".

"I also hope that after his path to become a postgraduate student is interrupted, other avenues will be open for him," Hu said. - China Daily/ANN

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