the name of the woman that DMan was thinking of is Chai Ling
. She now has an internet company in Boston
. I think she must be over 30 now- how quicky time passes...
Theories abound that she and other student leaders from 1989 were funded by the US Government, due to the fact that after everything happened, she managed to escape to the US and got to study at Harvard (and B.U. too I think), whereas the average student demonstrators simply went back to school in China or went on the run.
Some people I talked to said however that the reason that she was able to leave is that the student movement was actually funded by overseas Chinese, and people from Hong Kong and Taiwan and that when everything went to pieces she "took the money and ran".
There is an excellent documentary called "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" made by PBS about the events that took place there.
I have never been to Beida, however I know many people that went to school there due to the fact that mainly students from good schools like Beida, Qinghua University, Jiaotong University or Fudan are the ones that are allowed to go abroad for schooling. (I used to work in the Physics Department here and one of my main jobs was to help prepare mailings for graduate school applicants- I think in total we had applicants from no more than 10 schools total in China, but there were hundreds of applicants altogether)
Beida is known more as being a liberal-arts school("The Harvard of China"), whereas Qinghua University, also in Beijing, is the "MIT". IIRC the best departments in Beida are foreign languages, Chinese and History. (Note that when you are taking college exams in China you test for a department, not for the whole university and changing your major is next to impossible. Because of this testing scheme, it is harder to get into certain departments than others (i.e. a friend of mine was a Japanese major simply because when she was taking the entrance exams for college her parents feared that she would not be able to get into the international Finance department, so they told her to take the test for an "easier" department.)