A Wanda employee was fired for verbally insulting female college students at Shandong University, after its "buddy system" that allocated female students to international students for cultural communication aroused controversy.
The Jinan Gaoxin Wanda Plaza Property Company apologized for "inappropriate remarks" made by a host at its on-campus recruiting session at Shandong University on Thursday, and expressed remorse at the harm caused to students, the company posted on its official Weibo account on Friday.
According to photos and videos circulated online, the host allegedly said, "Girls at the Shandong University are so beautiful that I have to say international students at the university are so blessed."
These remarks were reportedly made during a recruitment session, and immediately enraged students and teachers at the scene.
A teacher also attending the recruitment session allegedly asked the host to bring his superior to the scene immediately, and threatened to call the police if he did not comply.
The case came amid controversy surrounding the cyber-bullying and harassment of female students at the university, following the news of a "buddy system" which has sparked widespread uproar since June.
In 2018, the university allocated 141 volunteers or "buddies" for 47 international students who were predominantly male to help foreign students adapt more easily to life in China. A rumor later surfaced that the majority of volunteers were female, though the rumor was later denied by the university. Critics said the program reflects the stigma and prejudice over gender and race as well as a mindset that foreigners are superior deeply rooted in some Chinese. Female students at the university were attacked online with malicious words as a result of the controversy.
The topic "Wanda fires host" soon made its way to the hot topic list on Weibo, trending by noon on Friday. The topic has been viewed 80 million times, and netizens appear to support Wanda's decision.
"What the host said was sexual discrimination and sexual harassment, and it insulted all female university students. He deserved to be dismissed," one netizen commented.
Netizens also demanded Shandong University explain its "buddy system" in detail to disperse controversy. The university said in a July post that they would evaluate the system, but no updates have since arisen.