[VIEWPOINT]Should marriage bar women from Ewha?All women have the right to an education.
The provision that banned marriages for students at Ewha Womans University was based on an old custom of early marriage by women in that era. It was enacted to prevent students at Ewha from quitting school to get married and to provide educational rights for them. Ironically, today, the provision runs counter to its intrinsic purpose by depriving the rights of married women to gain an education. I believe it is good the rule was modified.
When the provision was first set nearly six decades ago, women did not have much discretionary power regarding marriage, and it was impossible to jointly undertake a wife’s role and that of a student.
Society demanded too much from married women. And so the provision worked positively to allow women the right to get an education without worrying about marriage. But nowadays, early marriages are very rare and most marriages are not arranged; women have a say in the decision.
Carrying out married life and schoolwork is not an impossible task to undertake. Hence, repealing a provision that prevents women from exercising their right to earn a degree is a wise move.
These days, women seldom marry during college; most of those who do, do not register their marriage certificates (which legalizes the marriage ceremony) until after they graduate. Students who are graduating must submit their citizen registration to the school. When it was discovered that a Ewha student was legally wed, she was expelled. Since the provision was enacted in 1945, only 12 students had been expelled under that stipulation. This shows that the rule has not been effective. Unofficial statistics show there were many more Ewha students who got married during their college days.
A few years ago, Chang Sang became the first married woman to become president of Ewha. This is also a sign of the changing times. The provision that requires students to remain single does not conform to modern life. Competent students who are married are prevented from enrolling, and undergrads who get married are forced to drop out. Both of these provisions have been detrimental to the school’s development. It is liberating to see that the university has finally decided to get rid of this anachronism.
by Park Kyoung-ju
The writer is an analyst at Cowell Investment and Capital Co.
Ewha is an important place for single women. When the announcement was made that my alma mater, Ewha Womans University, was lifting the no-marriage rule, many people heralded the move as a triumph of feminism and human rights.
The ban on undergraduates marrying and the prohibition on enrollment by married women, it was argued, prevented many bright and competent women from getting a proper education. I beg to differ.
First of all, I believe there is a measure of sanctity in academic settings. University students study to mold their intellect and spirit with knowledge and expertise that will help them become productive members of society. An exclusively female academic institution allows women to undertake this pursuit without being upstaged by men. Many women who attend these institutions are overqualified and undertrained and welcome this opportunity to reach their potential, an opportunity that is very rare in broader society. Being a single student is at the very foundation and essence of their personal and professional growth.
Secondly, marriage can wait. It does not devastate a woman to spend four years of her late teens and early twenties, the prime of one’s youth, without being legally attached to a man. Why not relish these four years of freedom rather than becoming bound to a man? Whatever the situation, a woman wed is a woman with more things to worry about. There is no denying that students who are married are distracted by diapers and tiffs with in-laws. The interruptions contaminate their academic pursuit.
Third, if students want to get hitched right away, then do so. It does not mean that the decision will be a stigma for the rest of their lives. Former President Chun Doo Hwan’s wife, Lee Soon-ja, left Ewha to marry a soldier but she became a first lady. She is still considered an Ewhaian. Yes, those who would leave Ewha would lose the chance to obtain a degree, but if marriage comes first for them, they should take the chance.
Educating single women in the dawn of adulthood is a beautiful tradition that must be cherished. It is an act that underscores the value of the mind and spirit that academia fosters. I thank Ewha for having preserved these values. After all, in the words of Helen Kim, a former president of the university, Ewha produces the best brides in the country.
It also produces some of the nation’s brightest talent.
by Choi Jie-ho
The writer, a reporter for the JoongAng Daily, is a graduate of Ewha Womans University.
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