[Campus Commentary]Gender war on campus is divisiveThere seems to be no way to end divisive disputes between men and women, even on the university campus. At my school, Kyung Hee, the student government, called the General Students Association, and the women’s student government, called the General Co-ed Association, are locked in a gender-based conflict.
The GCA, which was organized to advocate women, has not been welcomed by many students. The things that make them unpopular may include an anti-feminist atmosphere.
Here at Kyung Hee, the GCA has recently been involved in gender-based fights. Some students have started blaming the group for starting the feud. Some have started trying to convince others that the female-oriented GCA is not necessary in a co-ed university.
After a series of disputes at our school, there is a perceptible sense that people are turning away from other organizations dealing with women’s welfare, including from women’s student groups supported by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Even the student government at Yonsei University has been pushing since March for the abolition of the women’s student government. Both associations are still arguing.
Those who argue for an end to women’s student governments give two reasons. First, these organizations insist on women’s rights but often seem to do so at the disadvantage of male students. The tuition money includes funding that supports both the [general] student government and the women’s student government. The women’s student government is seen as only using the money for the benefit of female students. For example, male students were not happy about the idea of using part of the budget for a women’s lounge.
Second, the work agenda of the female student governments is often considered too light, consisting of buying women’s supplies and hosting women’s leadership lectures. It may be premature to abolish women’s student groups. But a case can be made after a big mistake at our school.
A prominent and outstanding professor was accused by a female student of sexual harassment; she insisted she was the victim of a crime. The women’s student government led a campaign to help her while condemning the professor. But it was proven later that the professor was innocent. The professor was cleared of the false charge, but not before he was dismissed from the faculty. People have criticized the school authorities’ hasty decision and the woman who falsely charged the professor.
A confidence survey was conducted by the group earlier in the month to know how many students still trusted the women’s student government. They promised that if the level of trust didn’t reach 50 percent, they would resign. The results showed 1,883, or 60.7 percent, still trusted them. But the survey responses came from 3,101 female students, which is a 52.1 percent approval rate. With the results, the women’s student government moved on. But it was a limited survey of female students, and there are many students who are still critical of them. What they need is not a questionable survey, but action that can persuade the students why they need to be on campus.
*The writer is chief editor of The University Life, the English newspaper at Kyung Hee University.
by Kim Mi-ju