College festivals spark controversy while alternatives arise
College festivals spark controversy while alternatives arise
  • Huh Ryun-jung
  • 승인 2015.06.05 15:48
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During the school festival season of May, some festivals were heavily criticized whereas unconventional counterparts have been suggested as alternatives. The new movement is represented by activities related to social issues and freedom from commerciality, which is commonly found in school festivals.
Students at Seoul Women’s, Catholic Kwandong and Yonsei University were denounced for their management and illegal transactions of concert tickets. Meanwhile, festivals at Seoul National, Sogang, and Sungkonghoe University were acclaimed for promoting contemplation on social issues and student involvement.
Seoul Women’s University (SWU) was criticized by its alumni and internet users after its student government removed placards put up by school janitors on strike for its festival on May 20. The student government dislodged 19 placards on campus, putting them in black plastic bags and placing them in front of the cleaners’ protest location. The actions were conducted after the student government’s request to remove the posters was rejected by the cleaners’ association.
“The placards were removed to create a better environment for our yearly school festival,” SWU’s student government stated. “We wanted to host a school festival that students could truly enjoy.”
In addition to SWU, the school festival at Catholic Kwandong University sparked controversy for allotting separate seats for performances to members of the student government. For performances staged on May 12 and 13, the seats closer to the stage were restricted to the members of SGA. Additionally, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps Veterans Association’s Blue Dragon at Catholic Kwandong University formed a barricade, forcing other students to watch performances far from the stage.
Initially, the student government at Catholic Kwandong claimed that the barricade was formed to ensure students safety.
“The heavy rain and wind during the festival could have been dangerous,” the Catholic Kwandong student government stated on its official Facebook page.
The student association also insisted that the seats were reserved for judges of the performances. However, it was later revealed that the student government members were sitting in VIP seats during the performances staged by celebrities, which led to an official apology from the president of the student government.
Lastly, the festival hosted by Yonsei Akaraka, Yonsei University’s cheerleading team, fueled heated debate as some people resold tickets for more than 20 times of the original price, 11,000 won. After news spread that the popular idol group EXO was going to perform at the Akaraka’s festival on May 15, Akaraka tickets were dealt on websites for secondhand goods. As the tickets to the festival became lucrative, the number of postings related to Akaraka EXO concert exceeded 350 on the day of the festival.
Amid controversies surrounding school festivals, some universities have introduced unique festivals that foster student involvement and social responsibility.
For instance, Seoul National University (SNU) hosted its 2015 festival under the theme of “Work and Bow,” questioning the society where the “haves” wield power over the “have-nots,” including university students.
“Every year, we try to host festivals that are related to students and current issues,” said Kim Na-yeong of SNU Festival, the organization in charge of planning the school’s festivals. “We settled on the topic since the suffering of weak people due to abusive power is an issue that many students can relate to.”
For the school festival that took place on May 12 to 14, SNU Festival held events such as Bubble Between the Superior and the Inferior, Stamps. Maketh. Money, and Permanent Job Challenge.
Bubble Between the Superior and the Inferior was a game where two students – one playing the superior and the other playing the inferior – wore bubble-shaped suits and wrestled against each other.
“Stamps. Maketh. Money” was held to encourage students with low-paying part-time jobs. The tasks in the game were held, regardless of age, gender, grade point average, intelligence, stamina or networking, factors that are considered important at work nowadays.
Held as a finale of the festival, “Permanent Job Challenge” was a quiz show composed of questions concerning the harsh working conditions today. The quiz show was extremely popular, with approximately 100 SNU students participating as contestants.
In addition to SNU, Sogang included events related to social issues in its festival, which continued from May 11 to 16. The student government set up booths of non-governmental organizations (NGO) National Geographic and Save the Children for four days. The National Geographic booth held a photo exhibition on topics such as animals, space, history, the humankind for free and students sponsored the NGO in the form of subscription.
As for the Save the Children booth, it started a donation campaign for the provision of red goats to impoverished families in Africa. Members of the student council explained ways to participate in the event to other students.
“We wanted to plan an event where we could raise our awareness about global issues,” said a member of the Sogang student council. “Luckily, students’ responses were positive both offline and online, and we were able to deliver the donations to the NGOs.”
Lastly, Sungkonghoe University led a school festival that promoted student participation. Instead of inviting celebrities to perform on campus, the school’s festival was composed of events such as performances by student clubs, a culinary competition and confessions on campus broadcasts.
“The festival was held under the name of ‘Our Ground,’” said Lee Dong-jea, the president of the school’s student government association. “Over the past few years, we have heard that students were not the center of school festivals. Thus, we hosted a festival that were student oriented and student cetnered. “

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