Locked down on campus under China’s zero-Covid policy, university students are developing odd hobbies like group crawling and caring for cardboard pets, prompting concerns for their mental health, according to commentators and news reports, according to a media report.
Video clips uploaded on social media sites in recent days showed a group of young people crawling around after each other in a circle on a college sports field, prompting viewers to speculate it was a reaction to months-long campus lockdowns, RFA reported.
Officials at the Communications University of China said they were “looking into” the activity.
Social media users shot video clips of similar activities going on at other universities, including Beijing-based Tsinghua University and the University of International Business and Economics, RFA reported.
Unconfirmed reports were also circulating on social media saying that officials at the East China Normal University took photos of a student crawling alone on campus, and dispatched a couple of security guards to the sports field.
Another post said students who organised crawling activities at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications were reported by Communist Party Youth League officials, and hauled in to “drink tea”, a euphemism for being questioned by the authorities.
The Communication University of China in September deleted a post containing patterns for students to cut cardboard “pets” for themselves out of boxes used for deliveries, prompting suspicions that the authorities had banned promotion of the practice.
“Cats and dogs made of discarded cardboard boxes have become popular in colleges and universities across the country, with … Generation Z college students tying up their ‘carton dogs’ outside the doors of dorms, or ‘walking the dog’ on the athletics field,” a recent Weibo post from The Paper said of the phenomenon.
It cited experts as saying the hobby revealed something about the mental state of college students, RFA reported.
A blogger who uses the handle @Surfing_Voice said even extremely passive forms of protest are subject to punishment by the authorities.
“The absurd behavior of students is typical of the times we live in, yet even harmless and passive resistance like this will be punished and criticized by the universities,” the blogger said.