Embezzlement Scandal Casts a Shadow Over Cheonan Student Council

김민, 김동은, 한혜원, 박근후l승인2019.04.02l수정2019.04.02 21:12l368호 1면






▲ There was an argument between students about the Student Council in DKU Cheonan campus.

The new Cheonan Student Council ‘Boram’ began its term with high expectations considering dramatic incidents surrounding the elections at both campuses. However, students were let down and the team was labeled a huge disappointment after embezzlement reports surfaced surrounding board members and criticism arose on social media. Now the union, embroiled in controversy, asked for immediate feedback from council officials, but this was not enough to satisfy frustrated voters.

 Embezzlement by the Cheonan Student Council dates back to last year when the president and manager of the Pharmaceutical Engineering student council went over budget by 900,000 won than its original spending plan during the 2018 terms. Representatives of the same department discovered and publicized this matter giving rise to massive criticism from the student body. Many Dankookians were critical of the unreasonable administrative expenses of the student council. The president of Pharmaceutical Engineering Student Council confessed that he received a 100,000 won payback from a first-semester event when the academic expenses were used. He also received an additional 200,000 won payback out of student support money during the second semester for the opening general meeting, under the name of department operating expenses. In addition, it was found that there were two more paybacks, so the total amount of embezzlement was about 500,000. The president of Pharmaceutical Engineering student council revealed that he used the student council money for the council members and not for private purposes. In response to criticism of his actions, the president of the student council announced he would resign and return the missing 600,000 won of student support money and his 900,000 won scholarship as soon as possible. The Committee took disciplinary action, giving him a 2-week suspension and 2 weeks of voluntary work. However, after further research into the academic expense records and a full audit report, an additional 380,000 won was found missing. The controversy grew when the new student union Boram made public a list of culpable student body members, including naming the student who was responsible for the embezzlement. While this was intended to help the matter, it caused far more criticism than calm.

 The main point of the controversy is that the student council seemed to ignore the crime of embezzlement, while at the same time admitting to it. In the heat of the controversy, the Cheonan Student Council published an explanatory note on their Facebook page on January 29th, saying it decided to give the student responsible a chance to make amends to others by offering him volunteer opportunities, so that he can earn the forgiveness of students, rather than just being stigmatized as someone who embezzled monies. They also mentioned that he would donate the scholarship he earned, by working at student council, to pay for his mistake. However, despite the efforts to explain their position, student reaction was not positive. Some Dankookians criticized the Student Council for making an arbitrary decision on the punishment of the perpetrator. Also, according to the explanation from the Student Council, the student returned the 500,000 won he embezzled and an additional 380,000 won later on. Council stated that the student had reflected deeply on his actions since he had confessed to the misappropriation on his own volition. But some anonymous Dankookians pointed out the fact that he did not reveal the additional 380,000 of misappropriated funds and stated this student tried to hide this fact when he claimed the 500,000 won was the only money he embezzled. Other students argued he did not admit to his crime on his own. It was only when other students learned of the reports of misappropriated funds when he came forward with a response. So Dankookians remained unsatisfied with reports that the perpetrator had any remorse for his behavior. In addition, one of the phrases in the explanatory note by Cheonan Student Council made students question their ability to prevent this from happening again in the future. They wrote, ‘Even though the student made corrupt use of public funds, he is also the one who admitted to his wrongdoing by going public, so please trust your student council and keep watching us.’ However, most Dankookians who read this phrase in the note questioned his coming forward voluntarily and how the student council could be trusted to make sure it did not happen again in the future.

▲ The president and manager of the Pharmaceutical Engineering student council deliberately used some academic expenses beyond its original plan during their ter.(Photo from Pixabay.com)

 The Dankook Herald (DKH) conducted a survey about the issue of electing executives from the Cheonan Campus student council. Most students, who were aware of this case, stated that they got most of their information through social media. Around 90% had negative reactions to this issue and argued that it was unfair for a student, who committed a misdemeanor, to maintain his position as a member of the student council. Also, the majority of students (82%) felt that the approach of the student council to deal with the relevant student was inappropriate considering gravity of the case. Student opinions were quite cynical about the customary existence of embezzlement, with the majority stating this negative view has existed for a long time.

 Students called for a greater number of audits to prevent any future problems of embezzlement and the disclosure of business expense receipts. There were also other opinions offered to improve the method of selecting members for the student council and the inspection of the personal bankbooks of student council members while strengthening the punishment for irregularities.

 Some Dankookians expressed their anger and some said they were bitter because the punishment was left to the conscience of the student council alone. Many students expressed regret and frustrations over the actions of the student council, and others expressed some support for the student council's move, hoping for a change.

 The Student Union is meant to be a leading organization that can represent, guide and help students. However, this tragedy shows that their actions do not live up to their expectations. For the sake of Dankookians, there is an urgent need to make changes that benefit the university and its student body.

김민, 김동은, 한혜원, 박근후  dankookherald@gmail.com
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