Peking University at the centre of China's fledgling #metoo movement

Beijing (dpa) - An open letter from students, staff and alumni on Wednesday called on Peking University to stop putting pressure on Yue Xin, a student involved in a quest for information on a historic sexual assault case.

Yue is one of eight students who submitted an application to the university on April 9 for information on a former professor accused of sexually harassing and assaulting students in the 1990s.

The professor allegedly pushed one student, Gao Yan, to suicide.

The incident has pushed Peking University, which marks its 120th anniversary on May 4, into the centre of China's growing #metoo movement.

Known in China as #woyeshi, the movement gained momentum in January following accusations of sexual harassment at Beihang University and subsequently spread across China's campuses, where one-third of university students say they have been victims of sexual harassment. 

In Wednesday's letter, released on social media but later deleted by censors, Peking University students, staff and alumni ask for a meeting to discuss the university's treatment of Yue Xin and a guarantee that she will be able to graduate.

On April 23, Yue wrote in a social media post that she had been harassed by administrators since the request was submitted.

She said teachers had asked her questions like "Will you be able to graduate successfully?" and "What will your mother and grandma will think about you doing this?”"

University staff and Yue's mother forced her to delete information from her computer and cell phone about the investigation and then leave campus, according to the post, which has since been deleted. 

"The school misrepresented the facts when they contacted my mother, causing her to become overly frightened and [suffer an] emotional collapse," Yue said in the April 23 post.

Yue's case elicited support from her fellow students, who responded by putting up posters and taking to social media.

"Students ask for information, such a simple matter, how it possible that the university reacts so aggressively?” a user known as C Plan wrote on WeChat, in a since-deleted post published by China Digital Times.

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