A college in northwest China has been lambasted for issuing a controversial statement about the fatal New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai, which left 36 people dead.
The Modern College of Northwest University in Xi'an City, capital of Shaanxi Province, said on Friday that the tragedy proved that its holiday policies were "utterly correct".
In late December, the college reportedly banned its students from celebrating Christmas and instead on Christmas Eve made them watch traditional cultural films, which invited a storm of criticism.
Its official microblog account said that Chinese traditional festivals and culture were fading away as more people embraced Western traditions.
In an editorial titled "Shanghai stampede tragedy proves our holiday management utterly correct", posted on its website, the college said that if such a stampede occurred on Christmas Eve in Xi'an, the value of the college's holiday management would be "more self-evident".
It continued to bash public holidays by saying that the youth had become "overly infatuated" with Western holidays after decades of westernization in China, and that the stampede was a result of loose in college and university management.
The post has become a hot topic on the Internet, with some angry netizens calling the college "shameless" for justifying its value through the tragedy.
"It looks to me that the college is taking pleasure in others' misfortune," read one comment.
"In their logic, 2014 saw many plane crashes and I never took a flight, so that proves me 'utterly correct'?" said another netizen.
Others are more tolerant, saying that even though the wording might be a little rough, in essence the article made sense.
The college, perhaps in reaction to the media frenzy over its post, changed the title to "Deeply grieving the loss of our compatriots in the Shanghai stampede tragedy", but the content of the post remains unchanged.
Tan Kejian, a research fellow with the School of Sociology under the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said the college's attitude toward holiday celebrations was negative and should not be adopted.
"You should not stop eating because of having hiccups," Tan said, quoting an old Chinese saying.
Instead of banning celebrations, authorities should ramp up preventive measures to avoid similar disasters, he added.
Tens of thousands of people assembled in Shanghai's historic riverfront walk, in the Pudong financial area, on Wednesday night to ring in the New Year. Most of those that lost their lives were young people.