Hierarchy in the university is very important, but I think it is really part of the Chinese traditions. ‘Flat’ organizations like we might have in Western offices are not common here I think.
At university you can see it clearly, also outside of the office. Besides the large dining rooms there are a few small staff restaurants. At some students are not allowed, at some you have separate queue lines for staff and students. So the students are welcome here, but they might have to wait longer.
The same goes for the university bus that transports people from one campus to another. At the bus stop there are two places to wait: one for the staff and one, in the form of a queue line, for the students. Staff enters the bus first and only when the bus is about to leave and there are still seats available, students can come in. If the bus if full, you can either wait for the next one (2 hours) or take the subway.
There is also a difference between Chinese people and foreigners. Apparently it’s the law that when you assault a foreigner, your punishment will be much higher than when you do the same thing to a Chinese person. Guess I will be safe here.
The doorman at the office even holds the door open for me on occasion, while that pretty much never happens for the Chinese that work here. Secretly I think I can get used to this, although it remains a bit strange.