Lesbian elected council president at Yonsei University

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Lesbian elected council president at Yonsei University


A lesbian was elected president of an all-woman student council for the first time at Yonsei University.

Yonsei University’s central election committee announced Saturday that this year’s presidency for the all-woman student council for the Seoul campus went to Ma Tae-yeong, a junior theology major.

Yonsei also has a separate student council composed of men and women.

According to the committee, 3,775 out of 7,467 female students on the Seoul campus voted, and Ma received 3,298 votes, or 87 percent of the votes.

Ma was open about her sexuality from the start of the election. When registering as a candidate, she explained that she is member of an LGBT student organization called Come Together.

Although she won, Ma suffered some slings and arrows during the campaign.

“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I was hurt every day during the election process,” Ma wrote on social media after the election results came out on Saturday. “I have never been so rejected in my life because of who I am.”

“Still,” she added, “I will continue to hope that the world can change for the better.”

The student organization Come Together released a statement on Nov. 14 on their Facebook page in support of Ma’s candidacy and her coming out of the closet.

“We are awed at her courage, which is strengthening all of our identities as well,” read their statement. “The community at Yonsei has a responsibility to protect Ma from hatred and discrimination.”

“Her candidacy also shows that LGBT people are not uncommon in this world,” the statement said. “This is something that Yonsei University, as a Christian mission school, must think about.”

Yonsei, one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, was formed through a merger of Gwanghyewon, Korea’s first western hospital, and Yonhi College (formerly known as Chosen Christian College) in 1955. Those institutions were founded by Christian missionaries.

“Personally, I am not concerned that the president of the female student council at Yonsei University is a lesbian,” said Lee Chan-yang, a Yonsei student. “But as a Christian, I am sad to see that society at large seems to categorize Christians as a super conservative and stuck-up group.”

Ma’s campaign pledges included of an anonymous online discussion board for feminists, drafting of a new manual for students to use in community events to guard against discrimination based on sexual identities, and stronger support for LGBT rights on campus.

This was not the first time an LGBT person was elected as student council president in Korea. Last year, Seoul National University elected Kim Bo-mi, who came out as a lesbian during the campaign, president of the student council. She received 86 percent of the votes.

BY HONG SANG-JI [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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