National Taipei University held a competition to name a new student dormitory on campus, with students and staff members enthusiastically putting forward a variety of creative names, such as the winner Shizaihalou (是在哈樓, It’s at Halou) and Fenggoudong (瘋狗棟, Rabid Dog Building), the third-placed entry.
The competition ended last week and organizers selected the second-placed entry, Chenxilou (辰曦樓, Dawn Sunlight Building), to be the dormitory’s official name.
Online commenters immediately began to grumble, questioning why the second-placed entry was selected ahead of “It’s at Halou,” which garnered the most votes.
What was likely the rationale behind the organizers’ decision?
First, the competition rules clearly stated that management at the university would select one of the top three entries.
Second, the university’s three previously built dormitories were named Xiaori (曉日, Early Morning Sun), Haoyue, (皓月, Bright Moon) and Fanxing (繁星, Starry Sky).
Calling the new dormitory “Dawn Sunlight Building” created a harmonious quartet of celestial-named dormitory buildings.
Piecing together the second character of each of the existing dormitory names with the first character of the new dormitory name — ri (日, sun), yue (月, moon), xing (星, star) and chen (辰, fifth earthly branch) — creates the elegant phrase: ri yue xing chen (日月星辰), which can be translated into English as “the sun, the moon and the stars,” or “heavenly bodies.”
It is understandable why the university’s board selected this name over the other two.
Dormitory names at most Taiwanese universities are chosen by members of the administration. The buildings are typically given nondescript names such as “No. 1 Male Dormitory” or “No. 2 Female Dormitory.”
Taking this into consideration, Dawn Sunlight Building is not such a bad name. Moreover, the decision to choose the second-placed name did not keep those who created the winning entry from pocketing their prize money.
Instead, the controversy centers on the decisionmaking process. That the decision was unilaterally made by the university’s board has left many of the school’s students feeling somewhat angry.
There is a simple solution to this problem: Every university has a dormitory committee comprised of students, members of the administration and faculty representatives. The final decision regarding a new dormitory’s name should be rendered by this committee that includes all of the stakeholders.
This would allow the school to accommodate a broader range of perspectives and dispel any accusations of an autocratic decisionmaking process.
At universities where students enjoy a high degree of autonomy, the whole process could be organized by a self-governing student union.
Many people worry that such a system would result in the selection of joke names, but the opposite is true. It is precisely because of the extra oversight that students support funny names.
In a democratic society, it is vital that people take responsibility for their decisions and universities are the ideal forum for cultivating this self-discipline.
In the future, may every school in Taiwan include a higher degree of student input in their decisionmaking.
Chiu Cheng-liang is president of the student union at National Taiwan Ocean University.
Translated by Edward Jones
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more
All lives eventually come to an end. Over the years, my friendship with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had its ups and downs. Lee’s passing was a heavy blow and has left me deeply saddened. We experienced a lot together and the memories have come flooding back. Lee was born several months earlier than me. During World War II, he was studying at Kyoto Imperial University, but halfway through his studies, he was forced to change his name and enter military service. I was studying at Tokyo Imperial University, but went into hiding to avoid military service, and I was later