Since Choi Kyung-hee officially bowed out from her presidency on Oct. 21 amid numerous controversies, Song Tuck-soo, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, has been filling up the post as acting president. The chairman of the board of Ewha announced that the 16th president will be determined before the 2017 spring semester begins. Meanwhile, voices urging for changes in the electoral process are growing.
“Arrange a more reasonable method of electing the school president that adequately reflects school members’ opinions, and promise to reform Ewha’s management structure including its board of directors,” read one of the three demands of the faculty Emergency Planning Committee during the faculty’s demonstration held on Oct. 19.
Until the 9th president, the school’s board of directors had full authority to appoint a school president. Although the direct election system was adopted for the 10th president, the school immediately returned to the indirect election system for the 11th election. In the indirect election, the Nominating Committee of Presidential Candidates, comprised of representatives of faculty and staff, anonymously balloted for three presidential candidates. The president was then selected by the board of directors.
Despite having had 70 members on the committee during the election for the 14th president, this number was drastically reduced to 35 whilst electing the 15th president, Choi Kyung-hee. The revised regulation also no longer required faculty recommendations when choosing the candidates. Since then, doubts concerning the absence of democracy within the system boiled up.
Amidst the unflagging furor of scandals and accusations following President Choi’s resignation, a first in the school’s 130-year history, Honorary President Yoon Hoo-jung abruptly resigned from her post on the board of directors on Nov. 16. Yoon is the first female scholar for constitutional law, and is known for abolishing the patriarchal policy called “Ho Ju Jae,” which only recognizes male members of a family as the heads of the family, in 2005.
Being the first and only Ewha president to be directly elected, Yoon, established College of Engineering in 1996 in women’s university for the first time, and expanded campuses by building Student Union Building, Hanwoori Hall, and Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital.
In regards to Yoon’s resignation, some comments on the Web site of Ewha Faculty Council read, “We have no doubts towards Yoon’s honesty and love for Ewha.” “I welcome the resgination, although the decision seems to be made too late.”
Yoon had been often rumored as the real power behind the curtain and has faced criticism from board members, especially during the protests against the establishment of LiFE College.
The acting president has denied any knowledge as to why Yoon resigned two days before the official result of an investigation disclosing the illegal favoritism towards Chung Yoo-ra. Chung is the daughter of Choi Sun-sil who is suspected of conducting illegal business activities and exerting her influences over the nation’s politics, using her connection to President Park.
“The definite method of electing a new president will be decided after Dec. 21, when the school members are to deliver their collective views on the electoral matter,” Song said.
Students, professors, and even the media are expecting changes to the electoral system such as a direct election system, which will enable more transparency.
Meanwhile, Starting Ewha, a prominent candidate for the 2017 Student Government Association, has among its campaign pledges the students’ direct participation in the school’s presidential election.
“We shall form an electoral organization that includes students, alumnae, professors, faculty, and the board of directors,” read one of their pledges. “We shall provide a platform in which students can also participate in the board.”
The question remains whether students’ voices will be considered in the election process as well as that of professors.