More than 50 teachers have called on Chinese educational authorities to make a guideline against sexual harassment on campuses as soon as possible.
A week after the Ministry of Education announced the launch of a mechanism to prevent sexual harassment in colleges and universities, Xu Kaibin, professor at Wuhan University in Hubei province, posted a statement on WeChat on Sunday, saying the move should be specified and put on the agenda in a timely manner.
In the statement, he suggested the ministry and local educational departments clarify what behaviors would be considered sexual harassment, how to report such offenses and what punishments offenders will face.
By Monday, he said 58 teachers across the country have joined him.
"I applauded the quick response of the ministry after several women stood up to share their stories of being sexually harassed, but what we urgently need is to alleviate the problem through a unified, clear and practical regulation or rule," Xu said.
As a teacher with overseas study and working experience, he said such guidelines are common in universities in the United States.
"Similar measures are also necessary for our campuses," he said. "So when I heard the ministry's idea for a mechanism, I think it is a signal to push for a guideline."
But Chen Wei, a lawyer who has handled such disputes, said it's more important now to urge teachers to enforce laws and rules regulating their behaviors, instead of making a new one.
"We've had strict requirements for teachers, although there is no clear article against sexual harassment. But if they sexually harass someone, the Criminal Law will punish them," she said. "Ordering each teacher to abide by the law and meet the requirements is urgent."
Xu's call was proposed after Chen Xiaowu, from Beihang University in Beijing, was fired this month for sexually harassing a former doctoral student 12 years ago.
Chen has been removed from the list of Changjiang Scholars, a program issued by the ministry to award individuals with extraordinary academic contributions.