Student unions step up to provide students with scholarships
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Student unions step up to provide students with scholarships
  • Jang Ji-won
  • 승인 2013.12.01 14:15
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Illustraton by Jeong Hyun-joo.
One of the most important projects for student unions in universities is asking the school to lower tuition fees and increase scholarship benefits. Instead of only demanding these things from the school, some student unions are now taking these matters into their own hands: Student unions of Dongduk Women’s University and Sookmyung Women’s University are autonomously giving out scholarships for students in need.
In the case of Dongduk Women’s University, the president of the student union had pledged that she would distribute her own scholarship to students.
“In our school, the president of the student union receives a full scholarship,” said Choi Kyeong-eun (Dongduk Women’s University, 4), the president of the Dongduk Women’s University Student Union. “But if I receive that money from the school while representing the student body, I would not be able to understand students’ situations well.”
During the spring semester, Choi shared 500 thousand to 600 thousand won out of her 3.3 million won full scholarship. Reflecting on her lack of sharing, Choi decided to hand out all of her scholarship for the fall semester. A total of 1.2 million won was distributed to 10 students who lived apart from their family who were chosen based on their submitted stories. 580 thousand won was handed out to 25 students who expressed their difficult situation in commuting long distances to school. 520 thousand won was invested to provide students with small gatherings where they could learn how to play instruments or how to dance, taught by the school’s main clubs. In early December, Dongduk Women’s University’s student union is planning to spend 670 thousand won on supporting students who are living apart from their family with the provision of daily necessities.
In the case of Sookmyung Women’s University, its student union handed out a total of 7.6 million won to 12 students; 600 thousand won for 11 students and 1 million won for one student. The selection standard for the recipients did not include their Grade Point Averages. It included whether or not the student received other scholarships, the student’s level of income and amount of debt. The scholarship was funded by profits earned from the booth the student union held during the school festival in May, scholarships and personal money from the members of the executive branch, and some development fund from companies.
This business sprouted from a text message, sent to Park Myeong-eun (Sookmyung Women’s University, 4), the president of Sookmyung Women’s University Student Union by a student in May. The message was about how the student could not afford to pay for the third payment of the divided tuition payment, despite the fact that she had never stopped working this year. As an effort to share the burdens of fellow students, Park paid for the student’s tuition fee at her own expense.
“When I shared this story with the executive branch, they expressed their opinions about how they wanted to create a scholarship by working together,” Park said.
Sookmyung Women’s University’s student union is continuously collecting the executive branch’s personal expenses and development funds even today. The second scholarship payment is soon expected.
Student recipients showed positive responses for the student unions’ efforts and expressed gratitude for sympathizing with the sufferings of students.
“Prior to receiving the scholarship, I had to work a lot of part-time jobs and had a hard time,” said Kok Song-hee (Dongduk Women’s University, 2), a student who received Dongduk Women’s University’s Student Union scholarship. “Now I can enjoy cultural experiences I previously could not. I was very touched by the student union’s efforts in giving up their tuition and it was very meaningful. I hope such opportunities could increase so that other students having difficulties with tuitions could get these benefits as well.”
Synergy Ewha, the 46th Student Government Association (SGA), expressed its opinion about the autonomous student union scholarship in other universities.
“I had never heard about this type of scholarship before, and I think it is new and interesting,” said Seong Hee-yeon (Geography Education, 4), the president of Synergy Ewha. “However, it would require solid finances of the SGA, which is difficult due to the low payment rate of student union fees. But if there is general opinion that it is a good way to solve the scholarship problem, I would be open for discussion.”

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