For years, Korea University Student Unions (KUSU) have been making continuous efforts for educational rights movements— Aureum by Eumjul , WHY NOT? by Star:zari to name some. Although those movements brought about meaningful discussion on grievances that students face, they could not make a significant difference to such deep-rooted problems, which led to educational rights movements being held every year. Can KUESTION , the 2018 educational rights movement led by the 50th KUSU ABLE, put an end to the long-discussed issues?
In January, ABLE put forth various proposals for educational reforms including “absolute evaluation in Academic English courses,” “credit transfer and drop system,” and “improving course evaluation system” as preliminary agendas for 2018. This year on March 6, ABLE posted an update on its Facebook page to promote KUESTION , the educational rights movement of 2018. With the slogan of “nothing changes without questioning,” it promised to bring changes in the course registration system, course drop system, and credit transfer system. “Keep questioning, until the changes begin and improvements are made,” ABLE stated. It seems KUESTION is the answer ABLE has come up with to solve the lingering question that has plagued the student society for years.
Educational Rights Movements, Again?
In order to differentiate this year’s educational rights movement from previous ones, KUESTION devised two measures. First, while previous educational rights movements only lasted for March and April of the year, KUESTION will be conducted throughout the year, in order to “accumulate the drive starting in March.” Furthermore, KUESTION attempts to be the simultaneous movement that various units of various levels can participate in. For such movement, KUESTION called for the Joint Conference for Education which consists of KUSU and the Division of Education of Colleges and Departments.
“If we keep pointing out and raising questions about educational problems in KU, I am sure that the changes can be made,” said Lee Gyu Sang (’16, Health and Environmental Science), Head of Division of Education Policy of KUSU, showing his confidence. To do so, KUESTION put forth a number of educational agendas assigned to each month. For the first semester, KUESTION promised campaigns to address the drop system, direct election for KU President, and credit transfer system for March, April, and May respectively.
KUESTION started off by collecting petitions calling for restoration of the drop system in March. Within the drop system, students may withdraw from classes that they were enrolled in by dropping one during the drop period (after the course registration period). In April, KUESTION planned to change the current indirect election method in which KU’s corporation, Korea Choongang Academy, had the final authority to appoint the President of KU. “The direct election system is extremely important for educational rights, in that it is the President who decides all the academic systems in the end,” Lee stressed. Under the credit transfer system, students may transfer the remaining credits to next semester if they took less than the maximum number of credits. According to KUESTION ’s Facebook post, such a system is necessary in that it protects the educational rights of students who failed to take all the lectures that they wanted. KUESTION is planning to mark its end with the general rally in October.
Blueprints, Already Made
According to Lee, KUSU gathered about 4,000 signatures calling for the drop system. Although some may raise the concern that the drop system could benefit only a few students and harm the rest, including professors, Lee gave careful insight in addressing this concern. “I am aware of two main problems: first, some courses could be canceled when too many students withdraw from them, and second, students could drop courses just because they think they would not obtain the grades they expected after mid-terms,” he stated. In order to deal with such concerns, he devised methods such as enabling the drop system only in the fourth week or preventing courses from being canceled by limiting the number of dropping students.
▲ Lee Gyu Sang, Head of Division of Education Policy of KUSU. Photographed by Kim Jeong Ho.
Another task of KUESTION is to ameliorate the current lecture evaluation system in KU. When KU students wish to check their Grade Point Average (GPA), they first have to finish the lecture evaluations and surveys provided by KU. Even though the evaluations’ results are disclosed in the KU Portal to Information Depository (KUPID), many are not aware of this fact. Furthermore, the results cannot help KU students much in choosing the lecture in that only average scores of the answers are revealed. “With such information, students are never able to find out whether the course has group assignments, or about the evaluation criteria. KU students thus have to resort to alternative sites such as KU Lecture Evaluation (KLUE), a privately-run website for lecture reviews,” said Lee. KUESTION thus plans to raise awareness about KUPID’s system and make it handier for KU students.
Apart from KUESTION calling for measures that are not yet adopted, Lee revealed that the school has agreed to make improvements to the current course registration system. “The key point here is to maximize the utility of the current preferred course list system,” Lee succinctly stated. While KU students have to register for courses right after selecting the preferred courses, the proposed suggestion is to extend the period of time between the two processes. In the extended period, the Office of Information and Computing of KU may respond to preliminary demand. When there are fewer students preferring the course than the limit, they are all enrolled to the course; if there is more demand than supply, professors are informed of this so that they can freely adjust the limit.
Although no one could deny that the problems raised by KUSU and College Student Unions are serious and important ones, previous educational rights movements could not make much significant difference regarding such deep-rooted grievances. With educational rights movements being conducted every year, one could not deny that some KU students became insensitive to the movements. However, such long-continued struggles led the Division of Education Policy of KUSU and the Office of Academic Affairs of KU to communicate with each other. With KUESTION adopting new approaches of simultaneous and yearlong movement, it is time to ask whether they could make the difference this time.
"IF WE KEEP POINTING OUT AND RAISING QUESTIONS QUESTIONS ABOUT EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS IN KU, I AM SURE THAT THE CHANGES COULD BE MADE."