Student Dying on Dragon Boat Holiday Confirmed to Be Medical School Freshman

The body of a young man discovered Tuesday — the Dragon Boat Festival holiday in China — at AB dormitory was confirmed to be an STU medical school freshman, Xu Weitao. He was 20 years old.

In a telephone interview with MyShantou news reporters, Police Inspector Tian, an official involved in the investigation into Xu’s death, confirmed the full name of the deceased student.

The gap between buildings where Xu Weitao's body was discovered. (*Image has been deliberately blurred out of respect for the deceased.)
The gap between buildings where Xu Weitao’s body was discovered. (*Image of body has been deliberately blurred out of respect for the deceased.)

Xu’s death occurred during the last day of a three-day holiday and on the actual day of the Dragon Boat Festival in China, a day often associated with patriotic devotion and — in some traditions in some places in the country — filial piety. The festival is often connected to the story of Qu Yuan, an official and renowned poet who took his own life during the Warring States period when his kingdom was overrun. In the legend, locals who admired the poet rushed out in their boats to save him after he had cast himself into a river; when they could not find him, they cast rice balls into the river so that fish and river animals would eat the rice rather than the body. The legends are connected, respectively, to the origin of dragon boat racing and to the origin of zongzi, the pyramid-shaped glutinous rice food traditionally eaten during Dragon Boat Festival.

Police investigators, based on interviews with witnesses, put Xu walking from his dormitory room, B 511, to the bathroom, and using his cell phone, sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 am Tuesday morning. (AB dormitory is commonly referred to as “the old boy’s dormitory” in English, and is located between Canteen 2 and EF dormitory.) Room B 511, as its designation would suggest, is located on the fifth floor of the building.

By 1 pm that afternoon, Xu’s body was discovered behind the laundry room of the dormitory; a photo of the scene showed Xu’s body in a narrow gap between buildings, with what appeared to be a towel or blanket draped over his torso.

A Wechat image requesting information on anyone who might have seen Xu Weitao walking from his dormitory room to the bathroom.
A Wechat image with an a photograph of Xu. The message in Chinese requests information from anyone who might have seen the medical school student walking from his dormitory room to the bathroom.

While the cause of death has not been confirmed, a number of people connected to the investigation say the case is being treated as a possible suicide; a student affairs official with knowledge of Xu’s roommates’ interviews described them as saying Xu had seemed depressed in the days before his death.

By Wednesday afternoon, police were investigating the case, and stopping all students going into AB dormitory and asking them whether they had been in the dormitory between 9:30 and 11:30 am Tuesday morning.

Policeman outside B dormitory questioning students as to their whereabouts Wednesday morning.
Policeman outside B dormitory questioning students as to their whereabouts Tuesday morning.

A reporter also witnessed a middle-aged woman weeping outside STU’s medical college at Wednesday lunchtime, and was told that she should not look at the woman by men at the scene, but whether the woman and her emotional state was related to the Xu case could not be verified.

By: MyShantou News Reporting Team

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