Uncivil disobedienceThe sit-in by hundreds of students at Ewha Womans University raises doubts as to whether the elite university community has the ability to intelligently resolve its problems.
The latest scuffle was caused by the university’s unilateral decision to create an adult college to offer opportunities for those who could not afford a college education but felt the need to get one later in life.
The top women’s university was chosen among three candidates named by the Education Ministry for government funding for the adult college program.
The college would be run to meet the schedules of students who work during the day. The program is part of the government plan to widen opportunities for adult education and retraining.
But students accuse the university of trying to sell diplomas.
The student body claims the university is merely seeking to pocket the government’s funding of 3 billion won ($2.7 million).
Students are also worried that their education quality would be impaired by the establishment of a college on their campus. Students who worked hard to get into an elite university have the right to demand a high standard of education, and the university must endeavor to meet their expectations. It is worrisome that the quality of education provided by a reputable university is being questioned by its own students.
An even greater concern is the way the university and its students have handled the problem. The students stormed into the president’s quarters and began a sit-in without trying to solve the problem through talks.
The president brought in police instead of trying to persuade the students. Universities have never turned to police to dispel student protests, not even during the military regime period. This cannot be excused by any means. The fracas has damaged the reputation of the university and the goodwill and purpose of the adult education program.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 1, Page 30