On the heels of China’s men’s tennis team’s unexpected victory over world No. 1 Andy Murray earlier this month, over 400 student-athletes filed a petition to protest oppressive gender policies at the university level.
According to the Associated Press, they made the plea shortly after male student-athletes at Peking University were barred from participating in the school’s volleyball team, an action allegedly instigated by student leader Professor Cui Yansheng.
Now, details are emerging in the officer of the lawsuit against Cui, including allegations that female students were intimidated during public gatherings by organizers who hovered just 10 feet away. One student told her lawyer the crowd would “demolish” people who showed resistance.
In response to the student outcry, university president Xi Shucheng summoned campus officials to a mid-March meeting, where they were asked to explain the reason behind the major shake-up. This was done only months after the same female tennis team fought its way past Murray.
“I was so struck when I found out about the restructuring that I could hardly believe that it could be true,” Cheung Chun-hsin, the team’s coach, said. “I was astonished.”
The New York Times reported that the Chinese National Tennis Team’s male players are required to meet strict university requirements for education and training, including food and exercise regimens, and a strict regimen of 30 hours of compulsory study a week. The women’s team, however, receives a higher student-athlete allowance per hour than their male counterparts. Women athletes were also reportedly moved into a dormitory by far fewer guidelines.
Vice Sports Daily has more details on the lawsuit and the protest:
It’s argued in the lawsuit that Cui’s involvement in the affairs of the Peking University women’s tennis team is at the heart of the gender equity crisis, along with other involvement involving other women’s sports. Its petition to university authorities complains of “severe, systematic discrimination against the gender equity principle in an effort to maintain male dominance in men’s sports.” Legal experts say the lawsuit’s aim is a legal step toward overturning the quota system. Peking University has not commented on the complaint. Cui himself has also not responded to the lawsuit.
Now that Cui is facing legal action, the U.S. Tennis Association, which governs American men’s professional tennis, is reevaluating the decision to place Cui on the Davis Cup team. Should the ban be carried out, Cui’s dream of representing the U.S. in the Davis Cup this fall would likely be ended.
“We are concerned about recent reports of harassment allegations against professor Cui Yansheng,” Michael Frye, an official at the USTA, said in a statement. “Any such allegations against an employee of the USTA are always thoroughly investigated and dealt with according to our labor laws.”
Following an earlier question-and-answer session at the prestigious Harvard Business School, President Xi alluded to the kind of legal restraints that the petitioner students at Peking University faced, which could be part of what has compelled him to push this crackdown.
“To safeguard the security of the Party and the state, and the interests of the people, we must ensure that the law is correctly interpreted and implemented,” he said. “And the people should know their rights and their duty.”