8-University aspects Following a norm much in effect among certain sectors, each group of students would elect with all-embracing freedom its sergeant. A similar privilege was enjoyed by the five faculties in order to select their president. Were a conflict to arise, the authority was there to do or undo it at will.
The mess of the groups of students was fixed not by the very honourable faculty of porters and cooks, which seemed natural but rather by the very university students, keeping a very strict turn of squads. No one was exempt, neither ladies, nor sergeants and captains. There ruled a system of democracy pure, egalitarian, without the flaw of bureaucratic infection.
They had their studies squatting in the open air, in the corridors or, in case of rain or snow, in the prayer halls and community rooms of the temple. In due time, the peaceful dwellers of the monastery had been evicted without so much as setting aside for them an eleemosynary nook or a sacred apartment. The pagoda had many well kept buildings, walks and corridors, manifold dependencies, courtyards and woodlands. This is indispensable in large monasteries, and the arbour of the tall and time-honoured cypresses fostered prayer and the Buddhist beatitude of the old bonzes, awakened at the same time dreams of perfection in the novices. Nothing of this monastic world was needed by the heterogeneous student group, although it helped its assiduity. There were also some Buddhist and Taoist monks, although very few.
There existed, even when it was least published, an all-embracing freedom of thought, expression and religion. No one would abuse it, and although our Marists and some other Catholics pretend to resort to this privilege to pray and to take part in the religious services in town, they always found themselves hindered and irascibly watched. One would also distrust small groups and those individuals who had among themselves some affinity, relationship or common religion. By the same fact people were suspected. For this reason they lurked a silent enmity among the leaders against the seven Marists. The Marists’ smallest acts and thoughts were the object of a special vigilance.
Gossiping among the university students was considered an eminent virtue; it was praised and fostered by the authority. Such a system of spying exasperated those of good will, who for a trifling, distrust or old quarrels would be placed among those suspected by the regime and so became a target for ridicule. There was no lack of nasty minds who through such means pretended to make a show of their excellence, gain some promotion or, which was a blacker aim, wash away past intrigues and oppositions to the system and the Red domination. The clandestine agents proliferated.
In the administration, notwithstanding its madly Soviet ideology, dignity and consideration towards the students were constantly observed, as well as a fictitious camaraderie and tolerance of opposed ideology. The controversy was eulogized as a means of discovering the truth and of attracting recalcitrant students, but the teachers had to appear the victors in every conjuncture. Here resided an intricate problem when there was a question of their errors and when they had to confront superior minds.