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Nine Months of Battle ``Opposition against the President Remaining in Office``

Nine Months of Battle ``Opposition against the President Remaining in Office``

Posted September. 12, 2001 09:23,   


On the 10th at 10pm on the Soongshil University campus in Dongjak-gu Sangdo-dong, Seoul.

Onto every building were confusedly attached large placards and wall-posters. The scenery was comparable to that of the 80`s which marked an era smeared with great commotions on college campuses. Behind the placards written in red words, `Victory at all cost` , `Absolutely No` stood the Han Kyung-Jik memorial hall on whose first floor one hundred and eight faculty members were signing collective resignation letters with a tragic look.

When faculty members, opposing the reappointment of the current president Uh Yoon-Bae, announced their intention to begin an unlimited group hunger strike the university pronounced release from faculty position to those faculty members who failed to submit their schedules for the second semester. In response, the faculty council decided to resign collectively. The nine month old Soongshil University conflict is thus being driven into a catastrophic situation.

▽ Details of the situation = The internal complication at Soongshil began December last year, when the board of directors decided to extend president Uh`s stay in office against the will of the committee, comprised of faculty members and students, that was appointed for the recommendation of the president.

Afterwards a `pan-Soongshil-member corporate strike committee for the resignation of the president` made up of faculty members, staffs, and students was established in March, after which followed the `struggle to prevent the president`s job attendance` and strikes and refusals to attend classes among staffs and students.

The Soongshil crises, which appeared to go on without further resolve, saw some hope early last month when the school foundation convened a special meeting of directors. However, the lack of attitudinal change on the part of the school foundation reverted the situation to its former state of confusion.

In the process an incident occurred where a data related to the upcoming semester was deleted in the school computer network. As a result of this incident, the existing emotional gap deepened between the school foundation, who accused the committee for corporate strike as the culprit of this act, and the committee, who retorted by describing this accusation to be a witch-hunting that sought to dump one`s administrative incompetency on to another party.

▽ Issues = The faculty committee (president Kim, Hong-Jin) presented the following as its reason for opposing the reappointment of the president: president Uh has lost `moral credibility` among faculty members and he has become an `unsuccessful president` in his capacity to perform administration.

During his office, president Uh neglected the opinions of the faculty in his employment of new faculties and appointment of department chairs, and have administered the school in arbitrary and anti-democratic ways. Thus he has lost `moral credibility` among the faculty members. The faculty committee appealed to the two surveys held in April `99 and May last year whereby 85 percent of the faculty members expressed negative attitude toward the president, thus labeling him as an `unsuccessful president` with limited presidential capacity.

The school responded by contending, ``The appointment of the president is a proper right of the school`s board of directors and it is unreasonable for the faculty committee to oppose the appointment of the president that has followed a legal procedure.``

President Uh shows no disqualification in terms of breaking the law or exercising irrationality. Rather, he has contributed to the development of the school by strengthening the school`s financial foundation. According to the school officials, president Uh, despite the challenges of the IMF crisis, succeeded in raising the school`s finances to 80,000,000,000 won, almost three times the amount before the IMF crisis. Not only so, he also improved the school`s public image by promoting special projects such as the information-oriented school.

The chair of the school`s Office of Planning and Coordination Lee Yoon-Shik, professor of public administration, rebutted that the two middle-evaluations were enforced by a small group of tendentious faculty members and that ``only a few faculty members actually participated in that survey.``

▽ Prospect = 10th The two sides, after the school`s announcement of release from office and the faculty`s decision to respond by means of collective resignation, are currently displaying extreme conflict where the prospect. Settlement amidst the school`s current conflicting situation is not to be expected any time soon.

Soongshil University began its second semester ten days late in the midst of an unsettling circumstance created by the school`s computer network failure. The use of the ultimate card of collective resignation by the faculty could very well lead to a full scale blockage of academic administration.