[EDITORIALS]Faculty votes don't work

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[EDITORIALS]Faculty votes don't work

It is presidential election time at national and provincial universities, but voting at several schools was halted because of staff members who demanded a vote in the election.

University presidents are elected by professors; the system has drawn fire for leading to shady politicking among the faculty. Amid the debate about changing the system, questions about who should be eligible to vote have arisen to waste a lot of time and effort.

The current system of electing university presidents by the faculty was introduced in the late 1980s as Korea moved toward democracy. The intention was to promote collegiate independence and democratic management, but to be elected, candidates had to behave more aggressively and show more partisanship than politicians. Using school positions as spoils was also rampant, so many private universities changed their system -- some elect presidents indirectly while others appoint them. Only 10 out of 150 private universities elect their presidents directly as national and provincial universities are still doing. Professors want it that way. Of the 38 public universities, only one, Korea National University of Education, elects its president indirectly.

The conflicts surrounding these elections will continue as long as voting is restricted to professors. Despite professors' arguments that they alone were given the right to elect the school president, university staff members say they want a vote because they are part of the school. At some universities, students began demanding a vote. University staff are now turning to their unions to press their case, and nine universities that will elect their presidents from now through February are in turmoil.

If university staff and professors can do nothing but argue, it augurs badly for the universities' survival as competition among colleges increases. Experience has shown that elections of presidents by the faculty do not make a school more competitive. Appointing a university president after gathering recommendations from professors, students, staff, alumni and local figures would be a better way of choosing an able president.
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