Undemocratic admissions

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Undemocratic admissions

 Since President Moon Jae-in took office on May 2017, 18 high school students got into the elite Yonsei University through a special admission quota for the children of democracy movement activists. Some even got accepted into the highest dentistry department. Although the quota was first set in 2012, many still wonder how the number jumped to 12 in 2018 from just three in 2017.

Each university has reservations for the offspring of independent movement activists and war veterans, victims of the Gwangju Democracy Movement and multi-racial families. The quota has had openings since the children of independence fighters and war veterans are already aged. Universities accept applicants for “democracy movement activities” after consulting with their review committees according to the Democracy Movement Compensation Act, but the guidelines are disputable.

Certain group must not receive privileges in terms of college entrance. Yonsei University has often been ambiguous and suspicious in its enrollment policy. Its Seoul campus refused to hand in admission files before 2017 because they were scrapped, while its Wonju campus submitted its documents up to 2014. Files of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s son also strangely disappeared at Yonsei during prosecutorial investigation.

The report from the university in July suggested rampant irregularities in its admission policy. Business Graduate School professors were found to have colluded to admit the daughter of former university Vice President Lee Kyung-tae. His daughter received a score of 100 in the interview process while the top two from documental review got 47 and 63, respectively. Of 16 finalists, only Lee was accepted into the business school.

Athletes accept their match results because they have faith in the fair rule system. The same should apply to college admissions. The impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye was triggered by suspicion about the college entry of the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the power-wielding clandestine friend of the president.

University enrollment policy must come under overall scrutiny. Elite universities must not serve as a channel for hereditary succession in wealth and social status. A hard-working student should not be victimized by irregularities. Even if a degree from a prestigious university may not guarantee success in life as it did in the past, it at least must motivate as a ladder toward upward mobility.

The guidelines on “democracy movement” should also be examined thoroughly. They must be strict if the rewards do not stop in the contemporary generation but are handed down in favor for children’s college acceptance. Unfair enrollment can steal opportunities from others. Justice can crumble from small fissures.
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