|Starting Ewha, the 49th student council, expresses their gratitude towards Ewha students. Photo by Jeremy Desjardins.
As a candidate, Starting Ewha had pledged to introduce a more democratic system of electing the university president. After being elected, Starting Ewha got right to work, even before the start of the spring semester in March.
They initiated many actions to change the election process, which used to completely exclude students, to a direct system where the student body can participate. From press conferences to protest marches, picketing, and general assemblies, the ceaseless demand from students enabled Starting Ewha to be assertive in their petitions to the Board of Directors.
“Some limitations with the current system still exist, such as the low ratio of student votes and the insufficient election schedule that doesn’t consider the large population of students,” Starting Ewha (President Woo Ji-soo and Vice-President Kim Hye-wan) said. “However, with many other universities now moving towards a direct election system, we believe that this change in Ewha is truly an accomplishment made by the student community.”
Starting Ewha has always deemed communication with the students as their utmost priority. In order to collect the student body’s opinions, they held numerous open debates and general assemblies.
“When discussing a democratic electorate system, opinions differed largely regarding the ratio of student votes,” Starting Ewha explained. “But because we had to make it into one proposal, a communicating process such as debate and survey was necessary.”
However, not all passed smoothly as planned. Starting Ewha also went through many difficulties.
“Many students expected an openly communicating student council,” Starting Ewha said. “Though we tried to update the students and gather various opinions, the constraints of having to deal with such a large community still lasts as a difficulty we cannot resolve easily.”
Starting Ewha also hosted the second Right Light Festival last September. What started as a “Human Rights Festival” developed into a “Humans and Animals Rights Festival,” with an even stronger emphasis of minorities’ rights.
“We wanted the festival to be an event where students could learn altogether that minorities’ rights are not conceptual, but an idea that involves intense discourse and relates to our daily lives,” Starting Ewha revealed.
By collaborating with organizations of the Ewha Independent Union, Starting Ewha added more color and diversity to this year’s Right Light Festival. New events such as busking performances and a parade were included. Starting Ewha hopes the festival will remain integral to Ewha.
In addition to these major operations, Starting Ewha mentioned memorable events throughout the year.
“I personally remember events we organized such as the freshmen orientation and Daedong festival,” Kim said. “I believe they lasted as unforgettable moments because we were able to meet and interact with the students.”
Like Starting Ewha’s slogan, 2017 was a year of many new beginnings, including the university presidential election, the early election of Korea’s president, and the open debate with the newly elected President Kim Hei-sook. Starting Ewha especially expressed its gratitude towards the students who pulled through these changes together.
“We were lucky enough to meet many members of Ewha this year, and will always remember them,” Starting Ewha said. “We truly thank everyone who offered both support and criticism alike. Though we do carry some regrets, we believe it was a great year with the great changes made with the students.”