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[Opinion] Student Councils

Posted April. 27, 2006 03:10,   


“Recognizing the current student council as representatives cannot be permitted both morally and legally, and it is not right either for education,” said Dongduk Women’s University President Sohn Bong-ho while declaring his determined measures to not recognize the student council two days ago. That is because evidence was found that the student council manipulated the voter poll and tried to transfer power. President Sohn said, “It is a great shock that such incident occurred at the student council of a university, the symbol of intellect and basis of democracy.” Outside the university, President Sohn is also the senior advisor of “Voter Association for Clean Elections.”

An official of the university lamented, “The student council is taking after the old vices of politicians from rigged elections to corruption.” The Korea University Students, who were recently expelled from the university, demanded voting rights to the student council elections and detained professors for over 16 hours. Countless student councils seized and occupied university buildings as means to oppose the increase of registration fees. It is difficult to distinguish them from organized mobsters who use all necessary means to attain their goals.

There was once a time when university student councils were considered as the protectors of free democracy and justice. Those were the times in the 1980s when Kim Young-choon (president of Korea University Student Council in 1984) led student activists to occupy the ruling party’s headquarter, Uri Party lawmaker Im Jong-seok (president of Hanyang University in 1988) and former chairman of National University Representative’s Council sent Lim Soo-kyung to the Pyongyang festival, and times when student activism was at its peak. However, not everyone has a positive opinion about the 386-generation. Even former Presidential Economic Secretary Jung Tae-in, himself belonging to the 386-generation, criticized, “They only have a sense of righteousness but don’t know much.”

I wonder whether the student councils of 2006 consider themselves as the guardian angles of democracy and justice. Otherwise, there is no way they would go ahead so proudly violating and avoiding laws. Liberty Union Chairman Choi Hong-jae, himself the president of the Korea University Student Council in 1991, wrote, “Until now the most terrible violence that swept the world was wielded by people who think that only they are right and refuse the opinion of others.” I’m concerned that such student councils, engaged in illegal violence rather than studies, will once again take over politics in the future.

Kim Soon-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com