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Peking University to build students' center at site of former public notice boards
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Peking University is planning to build a students' center at the site of the former public notice boards, whose recent removal has sparked controversy, according to President Xu Zhihong.

Xu defended the removal, saying there had been too many commercial advertisements, including ads for fake and shoddy products and even ads for ringers in exams, on the notice boards. That was unsuitable for an academic institution.

"No university in the world has a place in such a disorder," he said at a forum in Beijing on Friday.

Xu said the university was planning to build a students' center at Sanjiaodi in the future, a triangular-shaped lawn where the notice boards were located.

He called removal of the notice boards a rectification effort, noting there will still be some notice boards at the area where student activities and major campus events may be announced.

In the 1980s and 1990s, students published their poems, essays and other thoughts on a wide range of subjects on the notice boards and reading the posters at Sanjiaodi became part of daily life.

Many users of the university's Internet forum have spoken out against the removal, according to a Peking University student.

Some said the boards were a place where students were free to express their opinions and they provided students with a sense of identity, so students should have their say in deciding whether to remove them or not.

Another student said that he used the boards to look for jobs to finance his studies and was annoyed the boards were now gone.

A spokesman for Peking University said the boards were removed as part of the university's clean-up campaign in preparation for its 110th anniversary next year and some "Good Luck Beijing" sports events to be held at the university prior to the 2008 Olympic Games.

"These notice boards no longer served as places for the exchange of thoughts and ideas since the late 1990s, and were instead filled with commercial advertisements for apartments, rent and training courses," said the spokesman.

An on-campus security guard confirmed that the boards were demolished on Sunday night.

Some Internet users voiced their support for the removal, saying the notice boards were just used to post commercial advertisements and the critics were too fussy.

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2007)

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