"Synergy would always be beside all Korea University (KU) students.” This statement was first made in December 2018 and now rests as the main motto of the current KU Student Union (KUSU), Synergy. The goal to become a good listener and the closest friend of KU students has given birth to innovative policies throughout the fields of Education, Life, Culture and Human Rights. Now that Synergy is at the halfway point of its tenure, this would be the right time to look back over its efforts.
Synergy, the 51st KUSU, is now on the run to increase benefits of KU Students for their improved campus life. Starting from the Press Conference on the Instructor Act in February to the 4.18 Gugukdaejangjung (4.18 big run), continuous movements were shown. Among all the actions they have taken, the educational movement tends to be occurring in the large scale and frequently as it is directly related to the students' educational rights and requires long-term efforts.
Revision of the Endemic Flaws - Educational Policies
Befittingly, an outcome was drawn at the aftermath of the 4.10 Rally. The 4.10 Rally, a part of the Educational Rights Movement, was to strongly inform the current shortcomings in the educational system of KU. This included current issues such as the lack of laboratory facilities and lack of courses. During the rally, performances were held to metaphorically depict the dire situation, and the final step of it was to request President Chung Jin Taek for a new change.
As a response to the request, a faceto- face talk between President Chung and KUSU was held on April 24. One of the most imminent problems—the need to increase the number of courses—was mainly discussed as the president himself admitted that it is a grave issue that should be quickly resolved. As a result, an official request was sent to all colleges and divisions to conduct a survey on students’ opinions When all survey results are collated at the end of May, the requests will be reflected and taken into account in the course registration by next semester. It is such an accomplishment for Synergy to have received palpable outlooks directly from the president, as the promise from the highest authority is likely to bring influential change.
However, this achievement is a mere part of the Synergy’s effort. With the Division of Educational Policy taking charge of overall educational issues, numerous divisions in KUSU take each individual roles in the different region, such as the Division of Housing and Division of Human Rights, securing each specific rights of students in KU. Each division is striving to secure the interests and welfare of students within their respective fields.
Space Distribution - Different RIghts, Both Provided
The KUSU Division of Housing in is in charge of matters related to the quality of students’ lives on campus. It has been promoting a policy that has been discussed for a long time— installling smoking booths and rearranging the smoking areas on campus. The vagueness of the criteria over smoking areas has sparked controversy over whether the staircases beside the College of Political Science & Economics and CJ Law Hall should be open for smoking. The lack of specificity in the system shows that imminent measures are needed.
Synergy conducted a survey about smoking in KU on January 21. According to the Nam Jae Lim (’17, Business Administration), the Head of the Division of Housing, the survey showed that both smokers and nonsmokers perceive the necessity of authorization of smoking areas and further measurements would be taken.
Nam addressed that the offline booth would be open to listen to students’ opinions, especially students who frequently pass the aforementioned places. Considering the results achieved so far, populated areas and the resting areas would be authorized as non-smoking areas to provide non-smokers their rights. On the other hand, every hall and building will be designated with at least one smoking area. Those places will be equipped with ashtrays where people could smoke regardless of the weather.
▲ Head of the Division of Housing in KUSU, Nam Jae Lim
Despite the positive measures, There is a concern about the delayed operation of the policy. Considering and making an effort to reflect each and every KU student’s opinion is desirable. Yet, collecting various opinions continuously to arrange and make one tangible policy would be time-consuming. As Synergy only has a one-year tenure, they might not be able to make it through its execution.
Everywhere Students Go—They are Improving
University is known as the pinnacle of education, where academic freedom is to be achieved. However, the environment where students study is not encouraging their performances. Privatizing the seats in the study room has constantly stirred conflicts among students, and those conflicts are mostly derived in the well-equipped places with high demands of students. Nam said, “For instance, on the fourth floor at the Centennial Memorial Samsung Hall, study lounge A and F, which allows the use of laptops, lacks seats. However, lounge B to D are mostly empty.”
Furthermore, Nam said, the time in which the hall was built is a reason for the lack of seats in the study rooms that allow laptop usage. In accordance with Synergy’s effort for this issue, KU has renovated the study lounges located on the fourth floor of the Centennial Memorial Samsung Hall from May 5 to 12, resulting in increased numbers of laptop seats and electric outlets. Yet, Synergy does not think this result would completely resolve the problem. It is aware of the fundamental cause of the issue, which is people’s negligence, and will further conduct a campaign for the etiquettes at study rooms.
Many of Synergy’s policies are still under the procedure of being designed or consulted. Yet, Synergy efficiently communicates with the student body by informing the progress through campus wallpapers and Facebook. When one significant procedure is handled or finished, the details are uploaded in the form of card news. The slow yet steady performance of Synergy to protect the rights and interests of KU students could be considered as prudence rather than easeful. There still remains another semester, and one is certainly looking forward to their further achievements.