It has taken me around two years to understand the systems of League and Party in mainland China universities.
It is interesting for me to know more about the Communist Party and Youth League by studying in Beijing. You just won’t know how the systems run if you just come to exchange for half a year and live in another building separated from mainland China students. In mainland-well, some mainland students are rather sensitive when I use the word mainland (which does not include Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) and China (which includes them) wrongly. I do admit that Hong Kong is a part of China (and this has been admitted internationally), but it is not always easy for me to choose the correct wording, as it is rather difficult to clearly differentiate whether something happens in mainland only or happens in both mainland and Hong Kong.
OK, let’s get back to the main topic. In mainland, almost all high school students are members of the Communist Youth League. So what is the League for? It seems to me that it is for holding students’ activities. The organization is probably less political than before. In Tsinghua and other mainland universities, students in one department are further divided into classes. Each class is also a Branch of the League. Students elect for a secretary (the head) and a commissaries responsible for study, organization, daily lives and so on. These commissaries co-operate to organize all kinds of student activities for the growth and development of students, absolutely not restricted to learning of socialism or communism. Activities may include volunteer teaching in schools, visits to the home of the elderly, invite experienced alumni to talk about future career, investigation of labs in our own departments, and so on. Similar to “Social practice”, these activities are all self-organized, and the diversity of quality is large. Some great, some stupid.
Every year, there is a public presentation for each Branch to show their achievement, as seen in the photo. It is funny that some achievements may include “highest average GPA in the department”, or “had a happy travelling which improved friendship”. “Excellent Branches” are elected and awarded. To me, it is just a show, though some secretaries may regard the honor as an important recognition. Anyway, it is a good platform for the commissaries to train their presentation skills. A bad thing is that the platform is formed by non-commissaries and I am one of them. I just feel that many activities are totally unnecessary for my personal development. Under peer pressure, however, it is not easy to isolate myself from these class activities, especially when I first came to Tsinghua and I might need the help from some classmates.