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[Opinion] A Thank You Letter from the Student Association of Yonsei University

[Opinion] A Thank You Letter from the Student Association of Yonsei University

Posted August. 17, 2005 06:27,   


Tongilyeondae, an alliance for the unification of South and North Korea, and the Student Association of Korean Universities, or Hanchongryeon, who were participating in a joint festival to commemorate the 60th anniversary of independence from Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), tried to use the campus of Yonsei University without permission from the university as a place for their event, but they had to move to Kyunghee University instead after it faced severe opposition from Yonsei University.

Tongilyeondae and Hanchongryeon unilaterally told the authorities of Yonsei University that they would use Yonsei campus to offer beds to 20,000 participants of the joint festival and have gatherings there. In response to the request, the authority, the association of professors and the student association of Yonsei University refused in one voice. The website of the student association of Yonsei, which opposed the idea of the participants of the joint event in the first place, was filled with student writings that criticized those groups. Student Associations of other universities also supported Yonsei University.

The student association of Yonsei posted a” thank you letter” on its website to their sympathizers. The student organization said in the letter, “It is the victory of all the students of Yonsei who were not lazy in expressing their opinions.” Following that, the homepage of the student association of Korea University was filled with messages encouraging Yonsei University. A posting said, “It is so cool. I applaud Yonsei which successfully defended its rights while putting the opinions and interests of students above anything else.” This case well shows that the university community has been mature enough to claim its right to be free from political rallies and protests.

In the past, university campuses would have been used as places for conducting protests since people could not find another place because of the government’s repression against democratic movements. However, it is hard to understand that political groups and labors unions use university campuses in order to launch protest campaigns without any regulation at a time when laws fully guarantee the freedom to hold gatherings. Of course, those who illegally occupy campuses do know the fact that their acts do harm to the universities. Such behavior is nothing more than ignoring other’s rights while only arguing their own claims.

Reportedly, some people said that Yonsei University is an anti-unification group. But their claim only reveals black and white logic. If they argue that Yonsei is an anti-unification influence since it denied offering its campus for gatherings, that means everyone who did not take part in the joint festival are anti-unification. For those who wanted to occupy Yonsei University, it might be their turn to send an “apology letter” to the student association of Yonsei for their aggressive attitude in that they attempted to use Yonsei campus without the permission of students, the real owners of Yonsei University.

Hong Chan-shik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com