KU’s effort to create a better environment for students is shown through the construction happening around the campus. In order to engage students in creative activities, KU Makerspace was created as a successor of KU Pioneer Village (n-Ville). It has been established to encourage students’ creativity in creating startups or other futuristic industries. In addition, there are many other buildings that are in construction. For example, the Mediheal Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) Hall will be built for the future development of environmental science research. Also, the SK Future Hall, which was controversial for taking up too much campus space, is currently under construction. More facilities such the General Education Hall on the Science and Engineering Campus and the Convergence Research Hall are waiting to be built.
The Best Enemy and the Best Ally
The history of KU is firmly intertwined with its greatest ally and enemy, Yonsei University (YU). This year, the two universities decided to establish a united library to provide a diverse range of information for students. By doing so, they hoped to increase information availability and advance their research. The two have collaborated to become better universities, just like allies. However, in the annual Ko-Yon Games, the two universities are ruthless with one another, just like enemies. This ambiguous relationship is what makes KU and YU’s bond even stronger. They are constantly conscious of each other, which provides the basis of continuous improvements.
▲ Student autonomy on KU Presidential Election. Provided by Yonhapnews
KU students are not afraid to speak up about unjust issues. The long-existing controversy over the entrance fee was finally resolved in 2018. Students who entered this year will receive a certain amount of their fee back. Although it is not a complete refund, it is a step towards an affordable tertiary education. In addition, the Korea University Student Association (KUSA) has taken action to change the election system of KU president to a student-based popular vote. Through autonomy, KU students clearly stated their rights and stood up against unreasonable measure that could damage the rights of students.
Painstaking Truth that Needed to be Confronted
This year was one that shed new light on women’s rights, especially when it comes to sexual abuse. The #MeToo movement encouraged the victims of sexual misconduct who were initially reluctant to come forward due to the abuse of power or unaccepting societal views, to speak up. Unfortunately, KU was no exception, as one of the professors was found guilty of habitual sexual harassment on campus. The students demanded a severe punishment, and the administration eventually fired the perpetrator.The dismissal was meaningful because it showed how powerful public sentiment can be, but simultaneously how arduously long and unprotected the process can be as the time gap allowed the perpetrator to commit additional offenses.
A few months after the start of the new year at KU, one of most anticipated events is held in May. Ipselenti –Jiya Hamsung represents KU’s pride and celebrities are invited to celebrate the festival together. The 2018 version was deemed a success, with the only downside being the ban of alcohol sales on campus during the Korea University May Festival Week. Although students were allowed to sell food, alcohol could only be brought in by visitors to the festival week. Another anticipated event, the Annual Ko-Yon Games, was also considered a success in spite of the weather that made baseball cancel. Unfortunately, KU only tasted victory in the ice hockey but, this does not mean that KU will back down because victory will come eventually.
New Systems but Uncertainty about the Future
There has been a lot of change in the educational system in KU in 2018. One of the most significant changes was the addition of the Freedom, Justice, and Truth liberal arts course that requires every freshman to take regardless of their major. Although the course was established with the purpose of increasing critical thinking and debating skills, many students and professors are doubtful about its educational worth. Also, there was a change to the course registration system. Before it was a “first click, first served” based system, but starting from the second semester it changed to choosing desired courses first. This system was implemented with good intentions, but its outcome was relatively unsuccessful since many departments complained about the errors in the system.