|Women's Student Government Associations aim to promote equal rights for both male and female students on campus. Photo provided by WSGA of Kyunghee University.
Women’s Student Government Association (WSGA) started to bloom in the 1980s with the goal of raising awareness of women’s rights. However, overtime the number of WSGA decreased due to problems such as reverse discrimination against men, leaving only a few WSGA in operation including Yonsei, Kyunghee and Soongsil University.
WSGA has been working as an organization to grant female students their rights that could be easily overlooked in a male- dominated campus. They organize events or activities for female students such as gender equality counseling centers or sex education during orientation for freshmen.
“A typical Student Government Association focuses on all-round campus life such as academic affairs and student welfare,” said Lee You-jin, president of WSGA of Kyunghee University.
When WSGA first evolved, the number of male students greatly outnumbered that of female students, as men had been given more opportunities for higher education than women. However, according to Suksoon, a feminist school magazine published in Korea University, out of 217 co-education universities, only 37 universities currenty have WSGA.
There are various reasons behind the fall of WSGA. One of the biggest reasons was reverse discrimination. Students complained that some of WSGA’s events such as promoting cervical cancer vaccination and giving out sanitary pads disregarded male students.
“WSGA has to promote female students’ rights so that rights of both men and women can be guaranteed,” said a sophomore who wished to stay anonymous. “However, it almost seems that WSGA achieves that by disregarding male students.”
To avoid abolishment and gain support from students, many WSGA have endeavored to find its own unique role on campus. Kyunghee University’s WSGA, in particular, took steps in an effort to find its true colors. Starting this year, it has allowed male students to run for the WSGA president election as well as granting them the right to vote.
“The slogan of the current WSGA is FM4U, which stands for the words female, male and the phrase ‘for you’. It conveys the ultimate goal of WSGA, which is to work for the equal rights for all students,” Lee explained. “For true gender equality, male’s opinions are just as important as female’s, and thus we allowed male participation for WSGA.”
Lee also mentioned that the general reputation of WSGA seems to be improving.
“As many students now see that WSGA is actively working to solve the problem of having an ambiguous identity, they are beginning to view WSGA fondly,” Lee said.