Finding lost voice

By Savio Lee, Chan Lee Savio Lee, Chan Leel승인2009.09.07l292호 0면






The Republic of Korea is noisy. A lot of candles light the night at the center of Seoul, and the citizens in Seoul cannot sleep because of people of all ages and both sexes’ shout to the government that is closing its ears. The highest proportion of demonstrators are probably aged in their twenties although all ages of citizens struggle. We can see the flags of colleges which we know well and we have not seen and heard, and we can hear their bloody voice in the actual spot. But where are the flags of Dankook University ? Where can we hear the voice of Dankook University students? Much to our regret, it is not easy to find the marks of Dankookians on the spot where Koreans fight to protect their rights. So are they in the demonstration for freezing tuition fees? It is too tiny to see it, if any. Why are Dankookians weaker countering injustice? Why don't they show their will to protect their rights? We want to see the causes of these problems by comparing and contrasting with other universities that are active in expressing their will and by looking back over the past.


▲ Students demanding a freezing of tuition fees

On June 5, 2008, most of the universities participated in a student’s strike demanding renegotiation about importing American beef. This was the preparation process to join 'a million candlelight assembly' that occurred on June 10. All university authorities in Korea expected that their students would not go on strike because of the exam schedule. But unexpectedly, students’ resolution was amazing. The General Students' Association of Seoul University held a student’s strike for renegotiation about importing American beef on just one day on June 5. Also, 4 universities in Busan, Busan National University, Busan National University of Education, Pukyeong National University and Dong-Eui University went on strike for renegotiation about importing American beef from June 4. And that day, they held an individual assembly. And at 5:30p.m, they held a student’s strike meeting of universities in Busan and they had a candlelight assembly, marching in the street with citizens. In Gwangju, Jeollanam-do, the General Students' Association of Jeonnam National University also held a student’s strike on June 10. They joined the assembly demanding a renegotiation about importing American beef at noon and they joined the KeumNam-Ro candlelight meeting in the evening. Also in Chungcheong-do area, General Students' Association of Chungbuk National University held a candlelight assembly in front of the Student Hall at 6:30p.m, June 5. Many university students kept the will in their heart and claimed their rights. What were Dankookians doing at that time? It was hard to find any Dankookians' movement.


▲ Students marching for the candlelight assembly

Dankookians' passive attitude toward claiming their rights was not only at the candlelight assembly. They showed a passive attitude towards increasing the tuition fee which brings lots of pain to university students. Compared to us, other university students objected to the increase of tuition fee and they tried to take their rights back. For example, on the afternoon of March 13, 2008, the General Students' Association of Kyunghee University, Global Campus had a news conference in front of the main building and demanded the university freeze the increase of tuition fees and self-control of dormitory admission. Also, on the morning of January 7, 2009, the General Students' Association of Ajou University held a news conference on the campus and demanded the school side freeze the tuition fee. The General Students' Association pressed the government's movement and said the government must participate actively in tackling fundamental problems. Of course, it is true that recently, the General Students' Association of DKU obtained a lot of benefit through negotiation with the school. But compared to other universities, the result was shameful.

Then, what did past seniors do for Dankookians rights? On May 29, 2001, about 300 students belonging to the General Students' Association of DKU struggled against the 8.1% increase in tuition fees at the president's office on the second floor of the main building. As a result, finishing the negotiation with the students, DKU which presented a 8.9% increasing plan on April 2, in 2004, finally changed the increase to 3% at the end of May in the same year and gave the difference back to the students. The refunded money was about 186,000 won to the Colleges of Nature and Engineering and 138,000 won to the Colleges of Humanities and Social Studies. Unlike the present, our past DKU was not insignificant compared to the other universities, because of the active students who insisted powerfully that their voice be heard.

The society in which we live now is full of individualism. People avoid their responsibility by thinking like this: “It is not my job. Someone will do it. So there is no problem if I don't.” From now on, throw away the thought that you care only about you. Our passive attitude should be changed to protect our rights.

“The government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” It is what Abraham Lincoln said, the immortal words, who was the president that freed the slaves and was chosen as the best president in the history of the U.S.A. The government exists for its citizens. So do the universities. We have to shout with our voices because we want to keep our rights from any deception and betrayal. When we lose our voice, we may become those people who don't have any rights to protect. Speak up.

Savio Lee, Chan Lee
<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>


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