▲ President of Eumjul, Lee Seungjun. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LEE HYUNJI.
"We will try to reach out to the students,” said President Lee Seungjun (’11, Psychology) during his interview with The Granite Tower (GT) shortly after last year’s election for 2017’s Korea University Student Association (KUSA). Eumjul, elected as the 49th KUSA on December 10, 2016, has completed its first term of office and is moving on to its second semester. Before the second term begins, the time has come to look back and reflect on the efforts that Eumjul has made in improving the lives of the students. "
President Lee and Vice President Kim Bohyeok (’14 Political Science and International Relations) of Eumjul have all declared under their slogan, “Executives keeping to the basics” that their policies would stick to what are considered the basics, which include the management of conferences, reporting of projects and consistent feedback on ongoing projects. Adding to that, Eumjul constantly emphasized the importance of connecting everyone on KU campus and communicating with the students in order for them to feel closer to school.
Reviewing the Dotori Project
One of Eumjul’s most ambitious projects has been the Dotori project. In an attempt to solve dormitory facility problems, KUSA came up with a campaign called Dotori project in 2015 to propose a petition to the school administration, requesting for the construction of student dormitories in the Gaeun Mountain. The Dotori project mostly took place at the West Gate and Nobel Plaza by setting up booths that took petitions from KU students. KUSA’s campaign did not stop offline. It took to Social Networking Services (SNS) to post card news and pictures, notifying students with promotional details.
▲ Logo of the 2017 Dotori Project, one of Eumjul’s projects this year. PROVIDED BY KUSA.
As a result, the Dotori project has gained a total of 3022 petition forms that were delivered to the KU Office of Physical Resources as well as to the Seongbuk-Gu Office of Parks and Landscape Department. Eumjul has also emailed the content of the petitions to the KU President, Vice President for Administration and Finance and the head of Seongbuk-Gu. Additionally, it posted the petitions on the official website of Seongbuk-Gu Office, calling for a response from the head. Eumjul also held a press conference related to dormitory construction on June 8 in the People’s Square that announced the end of the 2017 Dotori Project. It made sure that their efforts will continue even after the end of the project.
Working on Educational Rights with Aureum
Aureum is an educational rights movement that was introduced by Eumjul this year to protect the educational rights of KU students. Its goal is to facilitate horizontal discussion between members of KU, ranging from the school administration to student associations. It also focused on solving the chronic college-related problems regarding admission fees, foreign exchange students and students’ educational rights.
Unlike the past when the educational rights movement was more aggressive, Eumjul has focused more on delivering everyone’s voice to the school. Therefore, it held educational rights movements in smaller units. It divided the movement largely into two parts, the Liberal Arts and Humanities Campus and the Science and Engineering Campus, going as deep as individual departments. For this change, “We thought that our actions in those smaller units would lead to a stronger base of communication,” said President Lee. “However, it was not easy as KUSA was unable to focus entirely upon the project due to its workload and lack of participation within the units, which was different from our expectations,” added President Lee.
As for the difficulties Eumjul had faced with the Aureum project, Eumjul has been in an uneasy situation in between the students and the school after the aggressive approach to educational rights made by former student associations. President Lee said, “It was difficult to decide where to draw the line on how strong we could push our requests to the school.” They overcame the dilemma by choosing to become less aggressive with their voices and making it easier for the next KUSA to speak out.
The Creation and Application of the Human Rights Bylaws
Eumjul also focused on the human rights bylaw project last semester. On March 2, KUSA made bylaws for the protection of human rights related to issues on KU campus. Some of the acts include Act 2, which guarantees the protection of human rights, and Act 3, which safeguards the identity of parties involved in school-wide scandals. Since the creation of the bylaws, they had actually been applied and enforced in the case of a sexual assault that occurred in the Food and Resource Economics major. Consequently, the suspect of the sexual assault incident was expelled.
The event has its significance in that it was the first time the human right bylaws had been actually applied to student society. As for the impact of the bylaws, President Lee added, “Discussing human rights issues has always been a sensitive subject matter, but the creation of these bylaws will hopefully facilitate the process.”
Drawing the Next Blueprint for the 49th KUSA
Eumjul, for one semester, has done an excellent job in renewing and updating its policy reports on campus, whether it is on social media or any other Internet platform. This way, students were able to figure out what the results of a particular event were and give feedback in their own ways through various routes. Their efforts in communicating with the students were, as they had planned, evident throughout the period.
What lacked in Eumjul’s first semester of office, though, was the impact among the students. Although they excelled in their administrative work, there was not much else that made a concrete difference in students’ daily lives or educational environment. Without much color that defined Eumjul, it felt like a quiet, well-functioning form of student body government. In other words, they stuck too close to their jobs to leave a strong impression.
Eumjul has plans for later this year that are designed specifically for each department within KUSA, such as the Human Rights Solidarity Department, to wrap up its major projects, and to make sure that the 50th KUSA makes a smooth transition into office. Walking into its second semester, Eumjul is more ready and determined than ever to work with KU students hand in hand.