[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Student governments are out of touchStudent government, or the General Students Association, as it is called in our school at Konkuk, has come to an impasse.
Nowadays, the GSA is no longer an attractive group to students, whose concerns are focused on more personal matters than disputes over the school board or political affairs.
The voting rate in the student representative election is declining more and more as time goes by.
As a result, many campuses in Seoul have less than a 60-percent voting rate.
Since the beginning of 2006, there have been many disputes over tuition fees between students and university authorities.
However, it was interesting that the GSA went on strongly objecting to the increase of tuition fees, while average students were not interested in that issue so much.
It seemed that the GSA was the only group in the school without the students’ support.
What made the GSA become so distant from the students?
As mentioned above, we can say that students of today have different interests than the students of the past.
Only a few decades ago, students were bound together by a common interest and goal, democratization.
However, as Korea became more democratic in the late 1980s, the student solidarity movement began to wane.
In addition, the unemployment rate last year among male college graduates was 3.5 percent, or 173,000 people, while the rate for female college graduates was 4.2 percent, or 113,000 people, according to the National Statistics Office.
This reality made students become more interested in finding jobs.
And this naturally leads them to have less concern about school affairs.
We can blame the students for becoming egotistic or say that they have rugged individualism, but the GSA should not force its demands on the students.
The GSA needs to start understanding the new circumstances if it wants to stop being criticized by students.
For this, the first thing the GSA has to do is to make clear policy plans instead of abstract and emotional ones.
In fact, when seeing the activities of the GSA, it is easy to see that there aren’t any concrete plans or alternatives.
The GSA appeals to the students’ feelings.
No wonder some students don’t know what the GSA is or what it does.
The GSA is a political party that links students to the university authorities.
However, the GSA of today tends to win the students’ hearts only by advertising vague ideologies.
GSA members say these kinds of actions are inevitable to get their ideas through the students.
But to attract their fellow students’ attention, the GSA should try involving itself with the campus community and listening to what students actually need.
The GSA should show efforts to let students know about their activities.
I believe these efforts will start changing how students perceive their representatives.
* The writer is the editor of The Konkuk Bulletin, the English news magazine of Konkuk University.
by Lee Gwan-young
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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