On Sept. 26, students gathered at the Lawn Plaza to participate in “A Whole New Ewha,” an assembly urging the school to take full responsibility for student demands at the upcoming meeting with President Kim.
The student council publicized the assembly and went around campus to collect signatures for the petition. Up till the day before the assembly, 2,014 students had signed up to participate at “A Whole New Ewha.”
“We became aware of the problems regarding the school’s attitude,” said Han Eun-seo, School General Association (SGA) vice president. “The school is ignoring the students by refusing to attend meetings with the consultative body and giving inconsistent replies. We hope this assembly shows that we will no longer remain silent about the school’s attitude.”
There were two main demands presented at “A Whole New Ewha,” and the event was divided into the two corresponding parts as well.
The first was to carry out all 30 student demands at the upcoming meeting with the president. The second was to advance a conference system between the school and students so that decisions can be made together before changing the school system. This was greatly emphasized by the SGA as a process to protect students’ rights to take the courses they want.
Students participate in “A Whole New Ewha,” demand changes
Demand 1: Carry out all of the students’ demands at the upcoming presidential meeting
The first and second consultative body took place in June and September, respectively. Out of 30 demands, 15 demands were given a positive answer from the school.
On the other hand, six demands received negative responses regarding syllabus reform, expanding full-time professors, increasing the number of sections of courses, adjusting chapel requirements and more. The school also expressed reservations on the remaining nine demands including lowering enrollment fees and adopting a menstruation absence policy. Therefore, the student council further plans to hold a meeting with President Kim in October to reach a consensus with the president and vice presidents so that all demands can be realized.
Demand 2: Advance a conference system to protect students’ rights in taking courses they want
Starting from the spring semester of the year, the student council has continuously emphasized the need to discuss the abuse of the amended instructor law and the unilateral general education curriculum revision with students. However, after being requested to discuss such issues with the students, the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs replied that they would meet them only after finishing their plans on employing instructors and business.
Despite the fact that recent controversies were dealt with at “A Whole New Ewha,” only 459 students participated, which was 22.7 percent of the total 2,014 petition signers. This was less than half of the student council’s goal of 1,000 participants.
“I think it’s a shame that not many students participated,” said Kim Ji-eun, a junior from the College of Pharmacy who participated in the assembly. “The intention of the assembly was good as students from various colleges came together and raised their voices against the school. However, many students did not show up, and I think even those who came did not fully acknowledge what was going on.”
After the assembly, a unit from the student council made for the promotion of “A Whole New Ewha” made a statement.
“During the assembly, we believe that many students must have felt inconvenience for the lack of participation as well as emotions of triumph and joy,” the unit remarked. “This is our responsibility, and we admit that we should have been more careful before we took action.”
In addition, during the process of arranging the assembly, there was a disagreement between the student council and the school regarding the use of the Lawn Plaza.
Before “A Whole New Ewha” was held, the Office of Student Affairs sent an official notice to the student council on Sept. 19 claiming that the Lawn Plaza, which is beside the school̓s Main Entrance, is restricted from use. The office added that the Lawn Plaza is allowed for use only once a year, for Daedong Festival, due to safety problems and civil complaints from the surrounding apartments and shopping districts. Nevertheless, the student council did not accept their reasoning.
“We believe that this is simply an excuse from the school as no safety problems occurred when 2,500 people entered for the festival’s show,” read the statement from the student council. “Also, regarding complaints, the school sent letters of understanding to the surrounding complexes every year for the event. The school’s decision to prohibit the use of Lawn Plaza proves the lack of sincerity the school has for students’ demands.”
Despite the school’s disapproval of the use of the Lawn Plaza, the student council pushed ahead with their plan to hold the assembly at the same location on Sept. 26.
A freshman from the Department of English Language & Literature who wished to remain anonymous shared her thoughts on this matter.
“Personally, it feels like the student council rushed this assembly. I think the reason for the low participation rate could be students being afraid of going against the school’s order by gathering at an unauthorized space.”
As the assembly has now wrapped up, the student council is planning on arranging the meeting with the president in October.