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Biting Into Apple
Cover Stories Series 2012> Biting Into Apple
UPDATED: September 30, 2011 NO. 40 OCTOBER 6, 2011
Does Apple Showroom Belong in a University Library?

Finally, this kind of commercial behavior doesn't have approval of all students and teachers. Just like the Starbucks that opened in the Forbidden City, they don't have public consensus. Establishing an Apple showroom in the PKU library without even asking students' opinions is ignoring and infringing their legitimate rights in the university. Students are the real owners of the university. As for PKU, which is known for its advocacy of freedom and democracy, it's totally inappropriate to conduct this kind of commercial behavior in its library without soliciting public opinion first.

Wu Jie (www.southcn.com): If the Apple showroom is only a place for adding information technology to the university, we shouldn't criticize it. But as far as I know, there will be some commercial behavior in the showroom. The showroom in the library is not merely for propelling digitization in the library, but will be a commercial promotion platform for the brand with clear commercial purpose. The nature of the showroom is a commercial one.

The university's explanation of letting more students and teachers know the latest information technologies doesn't stand up questioning. If their argument is right, should the library also invite Mercedes-Benz or BMW showrooms into the campus to let teachers and students from the department of automobile engineering know relevant auto technologies? Inviting the Apple showroom into the PKU library is far beyond meeting the demand of digitization of the library.

How can the Apple showroom have access to the PKU library? Are there any economic interests behind it? These questions need to be answered by the university. Otherwise, excessive commercial behavior will destroy the spirit of PKU.

Yu Lisheng (Beijing Evening News): Some staff of PKU's library claimed that the products in the Apple showroom were only for exhibition but not for sale, which means the showroom is not a commercial behavior. But even so, the showroom is for promotion and advertisement, which is still a commercial behavior. Besides, staff of the shop said that if students liked some products, they can order products through the showroom and use the showroom as an agency. Students can get a certain discount by ordering Apple products through the showroom in the library.

A library is a place for students to read and study and is also a rare public resource in a university. According to PKU students, there are very limited seats in the library. It's totally inappropriate to use the space in the library for establishing a showroom. The library doesn't have the right to adjust public resources that benefit all students without holding a public hearing. It infringes students' legal rights.

As the former president of PKU Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940) said, universities should teach and guide society rather than follow the trend of society. PKU shouldn't have followed the pervasive commercial atmosphere in society but should stick to its own spirit.

Xu Qiancheng (http://news.ifeng.com): What does PKU think of the library by inviting a commercial showroom into it? Has it got approval of all the teachers and students in the university?

It's ok for PKU to have an Apple showroom since many commercial showrooms are opened on the campus. However, what's not ok is the location for the showroom. The library should be a place for studying and should be quiet all the time. The showroom should be in the commercial area of the university rather than in the library.

Ji Jianmin (China Comment): The excessive commercialization in China's universities is now a very serious problem. The Apple showroom in the PKU library should get people's attention. Premier Wen Jiabao once said, "It's a fatal problem that some universities connect everything with money."

Eliminating administrative forces in universities is a hot topic for educational reform. However, compared with the disadvantages of administrative forces, excessive commercial atmosphere has more negative influence.

First, it destroys scholars' pursuit of knowledge and truth. If people in universities are all busy making money, they won't have time and energy for academic pursuits. Second, it will destroy the independent spirit universities should have. If money is mixed up with academic research or teaching, how can universities be independent and be the spiritual pillar of society? Third, it will destroy the professional spirit of teachers. If teachers are exposed to an excessive commercial atmosphere, they will gradually be influenced and fail to set a proper example to students. Finally, it will mislead students and give them the bad habit of worshiping money.

Therefore, universities should remain sober when introducing commercial institutions into their campuses and resist an excessive commercial behavior. Moreover, they should modestly accept social criticism and supervision in this area.

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