As one of the top university in Korea, student life and creating a good and comfortable environment for their students has always been one of the top priorities for Ewha, but schools do not always listen to their students. Despite the fact that the university was the first one with their own student union building, with various of activities club for students, and also the most important thing, the very heart of politics at universities, a way of communication between students and schools authority, a student council. It seems to me that it is not used to its fullest, even though it holds the power for students to change their student life for the better, to have a better education, to adjust it to what they want and what they need, the interest for a student council is quite low in Ewha compare to my home university. I’ve been asking my Korean friends and random students here about the student council, to most of them, the student council is indifferent and do not understand the important role of a student council.
For example, the tent strike in front of ECC for a lower tuition fee, the girls have been out there for about one month. It seems to me that there is no progress, or communication between school and the strikers. For comparison, my university once wanted to close down a student coffee shop, where a lot of students gather to study and have as their meeting point. After hearing students complain, the student union immediately started to arrange meetings with the university and gather signatures from students to oppose to the closing down of the coffee shop. The plans for closing down the student coffee shop were successfully canceled and it showed the power of a student union that can channel the voices of the students.
My point is that the students in Ewha don’t really know the importance of a student council, and don’t really put up a fight for what they want and need. I’m sure that if the girls in the tent would gather signatures of students, being more aggressive, fight harder for their right, instead of just raising a tent and not doing much more than that, or other students would show more interest in the matter instead of just walking past and gave a glance. A meeting between the university and students would have been arranged and progress would’ve been made.
In many countries, a role in a student union is also the starting point into politic for many political figures too, I’m sure that so is the case for Korea as well. Just another important task of a student council, is helping students to show political awareness and responsibility. Korean and Swedish student councils are different in a way that Korean student councils are much more active, since there were many political disturbances in Korea; Sweden’s’ students were lucky to be spared due to the calm and mild nature of Swedish politics.
There are also similarities in individual activism among students in both countries, like the lack of interest in student council in Korea today, universities in Sweden seem to follow a similar path where students tend to focus more on their individual studies.
* Different Voices of Ewha