Indifference in Student Union elections prevail on campus
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Indifference in Student Union elections prevail on campus
  • Lee Min-jeong
  • 승인 2012.12.07 21:05
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Campuses in November are busy with elections of the Student Unions. However, students are increasingly uninterested in Student Union elections, which is a growing problem on campus.The election board of Seoul National University (SNU) announced on Nov. 27 that the final voting rate for the 55th Student Union election, held from Nov. 20 to 26, was 27.78 percent, marking the lowest voting rate ever. The election failed to reach the minimum rate of 50 percent. Also, since the rate was under the extension election standard of 32 percent, the voting period was not extended, and SNU ended up without a newly elected Student Union. The SNU parties from each college will hold joint meetings to carry out the duties of the Student Union until March 2013, when a re-election is planned. For 10 consecutive years, SNU’s voting rate for the Student Union election has been lower than 50 percent, the minimum requirement for the ballot counting.For the last three years, nine out of 13 universities with more than 15,000 students enrolled, including Chung-Ang University, Dongguk University, Ewha Womans University, Hanyang University, Hongik University, Konkuk University, Korea University, Kyung Hee University, and Seoul National University, either had an extension of the voting period or failed to elect a Student Union due to low voting rates, according to KBS (Korean Broadcasting System). In the case of Ewha, the new Student Government Association (SGA), Woori Ewha, was elected after one day of voting period extension to reach the 50 percent voting rate in 2012.In some cases, the absence of registered candidates leads to cancellation of the Student Union election. At Sogang University, no candidate ran for the 43rd Student Union, so the current 42nd SGA, Warak, renewed its term until next year’s by-election in March.“The student opinion is that this is quite shocking,” Shin Jai-hee (Sogang University, 2) said. “I think the voting rate is too low because students are becoming more and more indifferent towards the Student Union.”Many students point to distrust of the Student Union as the main reason for the low voting rate.“As Student Unions show disappointing results that resemble the national politics, this makes students lose interest in school politics even more,” Kim Ju-hwan (Kyung Hee University, 1) said.Some students argue that Student Unions’ inability to gain trust, along with unfeasible pledges, make elections seem like unimportant events.“Some students think an election has nothing to do with them,” Kim Hae-in (Chung-Ang University, 1) said. “They become more passive and lose critical attitudes to school policies and candidates, thinking ‘Nothing will change anyway.’”A low voting rate results in the absence of a means for campus communication. Students lose the chance to speak out with their true voices, due to inactive feedback and supervision with respect to the Student Union’s actions.“Since the students are already uninterested in elections, I do not think they would feel uncomfortable even if the Student Union did not exist,” Kim Yong-sik (Konkuk University, 3) said. “However, students would, after all, face inconvenience regarding campus issues, such as the tuition fee or student welfare.”

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