[Letters] Why Kaist students choose suicide

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[Letters] Why Kaist students choose suicide

On the early morning of April 17, a senior Kaist student committed suicide. Outside of Kaist, it was recognized simply as another suicide because even last year, four students and one professor had been added to the death list. But it was shock among Kaist students, because it happened after the activation of the so-called suicide mitigation plan.

Kaist is well known as a fully government-supported privileged university. Not only was tuition free but even living expenditures were covered during study, as long as a certain level of study performance was satisfied. But if an examination grade was below satisfactory, free tuition was revoked. This was considered the most serious suicide-related problem.

The suicide mitigation plan is just to reduce this level-based regulation in order to prevent serious depression from study stress. The plan was implemented from the fall semester of last year. However, I wondered how to explain this new suicide after the plan and I concluded that Kaist itself pushes students to leap from the tops of dorm buildings.

Kaist is an engineering-oriented university represented by the slogan, “the delivery school of Nobel Prize winners.” More than 40 percent of students are accepted into master’s and doctorate degrees. The concept of Nobel Prize winner inadvertently creates a class of “losers” out of less shining students. All Kaist students so devoted themselves to study at the middle and high school levels that they likely had no chance to experience academic failure. The conflict between the elitism of Kaist education and the sudden failure experience of previously well-performing students could result in radical suicide.

The solution is correspondingly for Kaist to mitigate or remove the conflict. First of all, Kaist should highlight futures more realistic than “Nobel Prize.” Second, students should accept limitless competition nowadays in the world. Students have to get used to failure since they cannot always be the victor in many competitions. Finally, even though I could not recognize its importance before finishing my mandatory military service, students need to be trained how to manage their lives.

Kaist should help students to find happiness, satisfaction and success through their own ways. Then suicide, which may be defined as a failure of life management, could be surely removed from the dictionary of Kaist.

by Chi Chang-woon, a math student at Kaist

* Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.
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