Since the start of the semester, the campus has been rife with protests by
students and alumnae against the dissolution of the College of Human Ecology, and, more substantially,
the university’s unprecedented structural reform plan for all of its colleges
and departments. According to this “Final Reformation Plan for 2007,” announced
September 13, the three majors which make up the College of Human
Ecology will be moved to related colleges, doing away with the
Human Ecology itself.
Eventually, all of the university’s current colleges will be merged into three
new, larger colleges, with changes to other majors as well. President Shin
In-ryung states that this plan will increase Ewha’s competitive advantage, and
the Office of University Planning & Coordination states that the
restructuring will also strengthen the identities of divisions and majors which
are currently in the “wrong” administrative place. Additionally, the
administration says the restructuring plan will satisfy Ministry of Education
& Human Resources Development (MOE) policies announced in December 2004,
which gave Ewha seven months to restructure its colleges and reduce its student
body by 10 percent.
The reason why this major move is under so much heat is because most of
the parties whose interests are at stake — Ewha students, Ewha alumnae, and the
Ewha professors who were not part of the planning process — were not consulted
first. Now students and alumnae are accusing the school’s administration of
“authoritarian” decision-making, and they may have a valid point. But the
protests themselves have been too emotional and not as productive as they should
be. They have mostly focused on the issue of unilateralism and demanded that
students and alumnae be consulted in the planning process. But they haven’t
addressed problems that this unilateral decision-making has caused itself; for
example, the fact that there will be no provisions for Health Education majors
to receive teaching qualifications once their major is moved out of the
see where else things have gone wrong. First the alumnae are important because
they have contributed to the school. But they can’t be expected to understand
every detail of the current changes Ewha must face. So they should not feel to
insulted when they are left out of some steps in planning. Also, part of their
reason for protesting is that they are afraid of losing prestige and recognition
when they no longer have juniors in the same major following in their footsteps.
But they should not automatically be defensive of their own interests, but think
first of the interests of Ewha as a whole.
the school administration is also in the wrong. Not only did it fail to consult
alumnae, it also failed to properly gather the opinion of professors and current
students. The administration claims that its plan is not so new or radical, and
that deliberations were started in the 1980s, but actually there were only ten
planning meetings, total, from 1989 through 2004. The real planning has been
done this year, and in too much of a hurry. There have been no posts on the Ewha
website and no e-mails announcing the policy-making process that went on between
December and September. Of course, this could have been because the school did
not think there was any need to ask students or professors what they thought.
But who are the people who teach and take classes which greatly influence their
future lives? Who depends on the education they receive — and on what division
of what college they receive it in — for four years of their young adulthood? It
cannot be denied that it was highly irresponsible of the school to make a
radical decision without even directly asking students, the “consumers” of
education, what they think the identities of the new divisions should be and
hence what colleges these divisions should be moved to.
In conclusion, both the protesters and the school have shown poor
judgment in handling the restructuring issue, but, if it’s not too late, they
should get together and talk about this issue before students have to face the
unfortunate consequences of their rash decisions.