Students begin hunger strike at Seoul National

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Students begin hunger strike at Seoul National


Seoul National University students protest against privatization plans yesterday in front of the Grand National Party headquarters in Seoul. [YONHAP]

Protests over the plan to privatize Seoul National University (SNU) have intensified, with eight students now holding a hunger strike.

The SNU student council on Wednesday announced that “the vice president of the student council, Im Du-heon, decided to go on a hunger strike, requesting the school to scrap the plan to incorporate the university.” Seven other student leaders have joined him in the protest.

The student council also said the strike would end only when SNU President Oh Yeon-cheon appears before the education committee of the National Assembly to answer questions.

Meanwhile, a sit-in protest by students at the school’s administrative building marked its 18th day yesterday. On the 10th day of the sit-in, 50 school staff members failed in their attempt to enter the building to take care of administrative matters after being blocked by the students.

“We cannot open the building unless SNU President Oh engages in a discussion about the school’s incorporation plan with us,” a student council member said.

The dispute over the nation’s top university becoming an independent entity dates to last December, when the National Assembly passed a bill to transform the nation’s top state-run university into an independent entity in a move to raise the school’s efficiency and global competitiveness.

Starting next January, SNU will be run by a board of directors that elects its president. In the past, SNU professors elected the president.

While all state and public property, including the university’s buildings and land, will be handed over for free to the university, SNU can retain government funding.

Concerns over an increase in tuition fees have been the main contributor to the prolonged conflict between the university administration and the opposing students.

Students have demanded that the university withdraw its incorporation plan because they are concerned tuition fees will go up. The student council also has argued that if the school becomes an independent entity, it will make students neglect noncommercial academic fields, such as the humanities, because the university would become a business-oriented organization.

SNU has said it will refrain from raising tuition fees and instead concentrate on attracting funds for the development of the school.

“Even if the school raises its tuition fees to that maximum level every year, the school will collect an additional 7 billion ($6.4 million) to 8 billion won and that only accounts for 1 percent of the school’s entire budget,” an official at the SNU said.

“Incorporation will help the school to keep distinguished foreign professors on its faculty for long periods,” said Choi Jong-won, a SNU professor in charge of the preparation committee for the incorporation.

By Yim Seung-hye, Kim Mi-ju []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

서울대 총학생회 ‘법인화 중단’ 단식투쟁

서울대 부총학생회장과 일부 학생이 15일 서울대 법인화 추진 중단을 요구하며 단식 농성에 들어가기로 했다.

서울대 총학생회는 이날 오후 '릴레이 단식 선포식'을 열고 "오늘부터 부총학생회장이 단식에 돌입하기로 했다. 다른 학생들도 자발적 참여를 통해 릴레이 단식을 할 것"이라고 밝혔다.

총학생회는 단식 돌입과 함께 "오연천 총장은 22일 열리는 국회 교육과학기술위 회의에 참석해 학내 의견 수렴이 되지 않았음을 전달해 달라. 교육과학기술부 장관은 법인화 추진 중단을 결정하라"고 촉구했다.

임두헌 부총학생회장은 무기한 단식 농성에 들어가며 그밖에 릴레이 단식에 참여하는 학생들은 24시간씩 교대로 단식을 이어가게 된다.

총학생회는 16일을 '집중 행동의 날'로 정하고 이날 오전 11시는 여의도 한나라당 당사 앞에서, 오후 6시에는 교육과학기술부가 있는 세종로 정부중앙청사 앞에서 기자회견을 열기로 했다.

총학생회는 22일까지 시민을 대상으로 선전전과 퍼포먼스를 벌이고 17~18일에는 행정관 앞에서 점거농성을 지지하는 록 페스티벌 '본부스탁'을 열 계획이다.

서울대 노조는 16일 정오 교내 문화관에서 비상총회를 열고 행정관 점거 사태와 관련해 총장과 국회에 사태 해결을 촉구하는 결의문을 채택할 예정이다.

서울대 학생들은 지난달 30일 비상총회를 열고 법인설립준비위원회 해체와 법인화 재논의를 요구하며 행정관을 점거, 17일째 농성을 계속하고 있다.

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