Quick discipline for sexual harassment professors in demand
Quick discipline for sexual harassment professors in demand
  • Lee Tae-hee, Pak Gee-na
  • 승인 2018.05.27 12:29
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Two professors found guilty of sexual harassment by Ewha’s Sexual Harassment Commission are still awaiting their disciplinary hearings, more than one month after the ruling against the first professor. The commission ruled that Professor K had engaged in sexual harassment against students on April 4 and announced the same finding against Professor S on May 1. It advised that both professors be dismissed from the school. Professor K had been accused by numerous students of verbally and physically harassing them in a sexual manner from 2005 to 2017 and Professor S was accused of the same behaviors from 2016 onward. Both professors have been suspended from teaching since the accusations were made. However, a Disciplinary Committee and the university president must formally dismiss the professors for the Sexual Harassment Committee’s recommendation to be implemented. Students are calling for both professors’ Disciplinary Committees to be held as soon as possible to ensure that they are dismissed and penalized. However, the school has not yet announced a date. According to University Board Faculty Discipline Regulations article 7, the disciplinary committee must be held within 60 days of the request for disciplinary action. In a worstcase scenario where both professors delay the disciplinary committee for as long as possible by requesting a retrial, disciplinary measures could be postponed until next semester. Even though the previous monthlong delay in the Sexual Harassment Commission hearing of Professor S was to ensure the anonymity and safety of the victims, this record has fueled students’ concerns that the disciplinary process will also be slow. When asked when the disciplinary committee will likely take place, the Office of Faculty repeatedly declined to answer a specific date. As the school has yet to announce the date of the Disciplinary Committee hearings, students are taking various actions to urge the school to hold the Committee promptly. On April 11, a handwriting relay to urge the opening disciplinary hearings was posted on the Facebook page of the Sculpture Major Emergency Committee on Sexual Violence. Students sent comments through Facebook messenger to the Emergency Committee page in support of this action. Seven handwriting relays were posted. One comment read “Proud of being student of Ewha with you,” referring to the victims of sexual harassment who had spoken out against the professors and students who have been taking collective actions. Other messages read “We want proper disciplinary action against Professor K”, “Show that Ewha is a place where change begins”, and “Make a cleaner Ewha.” Students from other majors also participated in the Facebook relay. “It will be impossible for the victims to go back to normal life until the final result of the disciplinary hearings,” said a student member of the Sculpture Major Emergency Committee. “Therefore, it is crucial for students to urge the school to quickly open hearings and take a proper disciplinary decision.” On May 10, the Student Council and Emergency Committees on Sexual Violence of both the Sculpture and Orchestral Music Major departments – to which professors K and S respectively belonged sent a joint statement to Ewha President Kim Hei-sook to urge a prompt disciplinary hearing and decision. The statement reads that there is no longer any reason for delaying the hearing for either professor, after the Sexual Harassment Committee advised disciplinary dismissal. The students also called for harsh punishment for both professors and for information on the process of Disciplinary Committee hearing to be made public. T h e S t u d e n t C o u n c i l h a s continuously questioned when the disciplinary hearing will be held and what action the committee may take. The Student Council is also demanding the inclusion of at least one student member on the Disciplinary Committee, which is made up of five professors and faculty members but does not include students in its decision making process. Even though Ewha Voice also approached the school with such questions, the school again did not give a clear answer. Although the exact date of the Disciplinary Committee hearing is yet to be announced, on May 9, the school answered the Student Council and students’ questions over the progress of a Human Rights Center promised by President Kim in her election pledge of 2017 and the role that center will play in preventing the recurrence of such sexual harassment by professors. The center is planned to open in July, and will cover consultation, investigation, support and education not only on sexual harassment but all human rights concerns, including discrimination and harassment of all Ewha community members including students, faculty and contracted non-regular employees. 

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