|Administrative office shift from July: Center for Human Rights opens. Photo provided by Shin Mi-gang.
Along with the large-scale administrative shift in the midst of July, Ewha’s Center for Human Rights will also go through reorganization.
In a nutshell, the Communication team and the Contents team which were under the Office of University Planning and Coordination will be integrated into the Office of Communications. The Career Development Center is planning to supervise not only the preexisting Career Development Center ’s support for career, employment, and field practice but also to help students prepare and apply for tests, such as the public administration exam.
One of the most noticeable changes is that the Center for Gender Affairs will be a part of the newly organized Center for Human Rights. The Center for Human Rights will begin to operate in earnest on July 1, aiming to provide an in-school system that deals the overall protection of rights for members of the school, including students, staff, and furthermore, non-regular workers. It will provide counseling, research, advice on how to prevent human rights violations, and education to raise awareness on human rights. The center also plans to deal with sensitive issues such as sexual harassment and violence, stalking, and secondary victimization.
“This change was made as efforts to achieve gender equality that is ongoing in the society, and the school’s role in providing a facility that educates students about gender equality and helps students to protect their rights has become necessary,” said Professor Park Kwi-cheon, the head of the center. “There are two other people in charge of the center besides me – one responsible for consultations and another for education and research. Although starting off with a small number of people makes for a burdensome workload, I believe that there will be improvements made as we continue.”
When asked whether there is a system for international students, Park answered that the Center for Human Rights has yet to establish a specific system for international students; however, the center will continue to implement the necessary aspects needed to protect the rights of foreign students.
The student council has also recently uploaded a video with the title “What kind of Center for Human Rights should our school’s Center for Human Rights be?” discussing what the students want from the center.
According to the video, Cha Ahn-a, president of the student council, stated that the center should not exclude any minorities in school as everyone’s voices should be heard.
“This year’s sexual assault by professors at our school occurred under the unequal power structure between professors and students,” Cha said. “In order to deal with these human rights violations, the Center for Human Rights must be independent from the school’s headquarters and its recommendations must have direct influence on our school.”
Also, many students pointed out the small number of members in the center as a problem since each member of the center will have to deal with more than 5,000 students.
Despite such concerns, with the establishment of the Center for Human Rights, the school vowed that it would be able to give instant feedback and handle problems related to human rights more swiftly than before because it operates as an independent office.
“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Center for Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are also planning an event at the center,” said Professor Park. “Ultimately, I hope the Center for Human Rights will contribute to helping students of our school to lead their lives more happily and comfortably in a human - rights - friendly environment.”