Student slammed for charging fees for return of lost items

Sichuan University
PHOTO: Video screengrab

A university in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has been criticised online for charging students fees to claim lost possessions.

Last week, a student at Sichuan University of Media and Communications lost her cellphone. When she borrowed a phone to dial her own number, a man at the university's security department answered the phone and asked her to come and get it, she said.

When she went to the department with a classmate, she was asked to pay 10 yuan (S$1.44) before the phone was handed over.

The student paid the fee and got her phone back. But her classmate was unhappy, thinking the practice went against the centuries-old Chinese value that one should unconditionally return things others have lost.

She recounted the experience and made comments online. Many netizens sided with her, saying the charges are improper.

Chinese university graduate turned butcher

  • Lu Buxuan, a graduate of Peking University, also known as Beida, one of the most prestigious universities in China, has hit the headlines again for selling pork.
  • Lu graduated from the university's Department of Chinese Language and Literature in 1989 and became a self-employed butcher in 1999 after having a few jobs in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.
  • In 2004, he started working for a local history compilation office in Xi'an, leaving family members to run his butcher shop.
  • However, he has recently picked up his butcher's knife again. But instead of working at his family-run shop, which made 2 million yuan in 10 years, Lu is working with Chen Sheng, a fellow Peking University graduate, who owns Guangdong No 1 Food Co.
  • "They have tried to persuade me to join the company since 2010, but I was hesitant. I didn't think the business (of selling expensive pork) would last long," Lu said. But he later changed his mind.
  • In his new position, Lu will be engaged in technical work, training at the butcher school and overseeing quality control, while also serving as head of the online store.
  • He will also be involved in hiring employees and development of corporate culture. He said he will help embrace the challenge of recruiting well-educated people for the company.
  • When he gave a lecture at Peking University in 2013, he said he was an embarrassment to his alma mater. However, Xu Zhihong, former president of the university, said in response: "There is nothing shameful about a Beida graduate selling pork."

Sun Haorui, deputy director of the university's publicity department, said the fees are used as reward for people who turn in lost items. The practice, which started in 2006, was also intended to remind students to take good care of their belongings, Sun said.

Students handing in something worth more than 1,000 yuan would receive 10 yuan as a reward paid by the student who lost the item, he said.

Zhu Lianzhai, a netizen in Wuhan, Hubei province, criticised the charge, saying it misleads students into seeking a reward for doing something good.

Dong Yuchuan, a lawyer in Chengdu, said that according to the country's property law, everyone has the right to retrieve lost belongings.

Those who lose items are free to reward finders, but if the university requires students to pay, they have a right to refuse, he said.