[EDITORIALS]Election fever on campusThe National Election Commission has issued regulations for electing state university presidents. The commission will assign “clean campaign” watchdog groups that will supervise the elections. These groups also oversee government elections.
The law says that members of the watchdog groups should be fair and neutral people and be recommended by political parties or by the commission for the job.
In practice, however, members of civic groups are active in such bodies and they tend to support candidates of their choice while rejecting others. Accordingly, it can be anticipated that the university elections will be overshadowed by the influence of civic groups. We worry that the neutrality of education could be damaged.
The revision of the Public Officials for Education Act, legislation proposed by a Uri Party lawmaker in May, moved university presidents’ elections under the eye of the commission. Faculty members reacted strongly to the new law. The association of national and public university professors intends to file a suit with the Constitutional Court asking it to review the constitutionality of the law, saying it violates the independence of the campuses.
We cannot understand why civic groups’ intervention in university elections is allowed. We interpret it as the intention to gain control over national universities under the guise of election supervision. Since the present administration came into power, civic groups have intervened in many social issues and helped the administration by lobbying for what the government preferred. The role they will play in the university elections is clear.
Universities are largely responsible for bringing outside intervention on themselves. Direct elections of university presidents were introduced in the 1980s with the winds of democratization. But that had more bad effects than good ones. Corrupt political practices like money for votes and cronyism have been rampant in elections. Recently, some universities have chosen to go back to an indirect election system.
First of all, direct elections of university presidents should be ended. Then this election fever will die down on campuses. Even if elections are held, no outside intervention should be allowed.
We have to recognize the independence of the university community. The Public Officials for Education Act should be revised again.