The Background of the Controversy
The women’s student council at SKKU is an independent organization under a central steering committee, consisting of female students. The women’s student council on the Natural Sciences Campus was abolished after a student referendum for abolition in 2014, but the one on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus remained active until the recent referendum. The organization aimed to achieve gender equality. Thus, it provided gender education courses for freshmen, held gender equality seminars, and helped victims involved in sexual assaults on campus. There have been no candidates for the organization since 2009 when the women’s student council at the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus was abolished.
The discussion on the women’s student council started when there was an inquiry to the student council, “S:with,” about running for the women’s student council on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus on August 15th, 2018. Since there had been no emergency measures committee of the women’s student council, which was required to hold an election, since 2013, the central steering committee started discussing this issue. The information about the process to revive the women’s student council, however, was insufficient because the former student councils had not accumulated data of independent organizations while the women’s student council still existed. Therefore, the expanded steering committee and general student representatives conference decided to delegate authorities to the central steering committee. These authorities included proposals for the reestablishment or a revision of rules of the women’s student council and having a vote on an election for building the next women’s student council. Then the discussion on the reestablishment or the revision of rules started in the central steering committee on September 17th. It was where the discussion on the abolition of the women’s student council first began. Kim Ji-hun, the president of the Department of Global Leaders, and one of executive members at the central steering committee, began to get signatures from other student representatives, proposing a student referendum on the resumption of the women’s student council. He mentioned that some Kingos majoring in the Department of Global Leaders wanted to discuss the necessity of the women’s student council on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus first, not its resumption or revision.
The Election for the Abolishment of the Women’s Student Council
After that, a written proposal suggesting the student referendum was submitted to S:with, where more than a third of representatives’ names from the general student representatives committee were listed. As a result, a student referendum was conducted. A student voting council was formed and the schedule for the student referendum on the abolition of the women’s student council on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus was announced online and online. The period of the referendum was from October 10th to 12th, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The polls were the same as in the last election for the student council. Afterward, the female students committee of the College of Liberal Arts declared a statement expressing regret on the student referendum. Also, the association of “Where Is SKKU’s Gender Equality Going?” declared they would boycott the student referendum.
In fact, there were a lot of opinions on the student referendum. On October 2nd, “Where Is SKKU’s Gender Equality Going?” held an open debate on campus, talking about the necessity of the women’s student council. Kim Jihun also held debates twice on October 5th and on the 8th. There was supposed to be an agenda forum on the student referendum by the student voting council on October 8th, but no proponents of the abolishment volunteered to participate in the forum. Therefore, the forum was changed to a discussion meeting. The procedure of the meeting consisted of the background of the student referendum, an explanation of its agenda, question and answer (Q&A) period, and a free discussion on the agenda.
At the end of the student referendum, the voter turnout on the referendum was 44.8%, which did not reach the required half of all Kingos on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus who were qualified to vote. Based on the decision of the student voting council, however, the period of referendum was extended to October 15th. As a result, the turnout recorded 52.39% on the last day with 83.04% of voters agreeing to abolish the women’s student council on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus. Therefore, the women’s student council at the Humanities and Social Sciences was abolished.
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