Sookmyung Women’s University’s “Oneul,” which translates to English as “today,” works for a better tomorrow for Sookmyungians. Oneul is the 51st Student Council of Sookmyung Women’s University. Since the end of 2018, Oneul has planned and held many school events. A full year has passed since Oneul’s appointed. It has fulfilled many of its goals throughout this year. Now that the end of 2019 has arrived, let's look back on Oneul’s work throughout the year.
The Student Council acts as a bridge between students and their schools. How do you respond to conflict acting as the representative of students?
The most recent conflict involves the direct election of the school president, which has yet to be resolved. The way we deal with conflict really depends on the case. For example, if a conflict arises in the need for educational support for an event such as the school festival, there is no need for a huge discussion, we just contact with the administrative team and resolve the problem by setting up a meeting. However, when talk does not lead to resolution, like in the case of the issue of a direct election for the president, we seek stronger action such as the current all-day sit-in.
Among Oneul’s activities, which do you consider to be the most important in terms of planning and organizing?
Because we are engaged in a huge variety of events and have so many commitments, it is hard to center on only one, for they each have merit. For example, in terms of ensuring human rights, we campaign for others on issues such as urban poverty, redevelopment, refugees, and contract workers. These are issues not often raised at school. In the area of student welfare, we try to focus our attention on school life and how to make a difference in Sookmyungians’ daily lives.
Which of your campaign promises have you managed to keep and which ones are you still working towards?
Our campaign platform was based on 26 pledges, so it is hard to say them all. Briefly, we made 4 major promises. They are the introduction of a self-assessment system, Menstruation Absence from class, a direct electoral system for the school president, and the founding of a Human Rights Commission for students and minorities. At the moment, we have managed to successfully found the commission and the Menstruation absence. The self-assessment system is partly done, and the direct election promise is still ongoing.
What do you think is the difference between Oneul and the previous Student Council?
Since 2014, the Emergency Planning Committee and the previous Student Council ‘RE:bound,’ put forth much effort on school welfare and cultural aspects. However, we focus on students’ autonomy and human rights. For example, we established the Education Independent Student Council within the Central Executive Council to exclusively manage general meetings and plan activities that would ensure successful acquiring of a direct election for the university president. We have also created a number of additional independent student bodies that didn’t exist previously such as the Social Solidarity Council, and the Human Rights Commission. Moreover, we established a Human Rights Week and set up the official absence documentation for menstruation leave. Especially, regarding students’ autonomy, along with the Central Management Committee and the Student Council hosting general meetings, which are important as decision-making bodies. Oneul not only works towards supplementing these bodies, but also works to better administrative structure through overall revision.
What has been the rewarding part about working for Oneul so far?
Hearing Sookmyungians saying thank you for enacting the Absence for Menstruation leave and hearing Sookmyungians say Human Rights Week work them up to new things. Also, learning that students felt the general meeting was a success.
Then, what has been the most difficult thing, and how did you manage the situation?
The most difficult thing throughout our time has been Sookmyung Women’s University’s refusal to address our demands for a direct electoral system for the president. The administration personnel continually evade us. On a personal note, the work had taken its toll on my health; I have missed classes, failed to complete course readings, and lost any leisure time. However, I suspect these will all disappear when my term is over.
What did you learn the most from working as representative of the students at Sookmyung Women's University?
I learned two things. The first is how to communicate with people who differ from me. When I first assumed the position of president of the Student Council, I thought I would have time to learn the ropes and skills I need for the job. However, I soon learned that there was much I lacked and needed to know. The second lesson is self-reflection. I learned to admit my ability was limited, so I need to learn how to complement my colleagues and how to better myself.
What does 2019 mean for Oneul?
It was a very hard year of learning. 2019 gave me the opportunity to reflect on myself. It also gave me the chance to help fellow Sookmyungians solve and address many of the problems that Sookmyung Women’s University failed to deal with in the past. At the same time, it was challenging both for me and my co-workers in the Central Executive Council of the Student Council because we knew others were depending on us so we couldn’t give up. Sometimes I forwent my studies, personal time, and health, which was hard as well, but I believe the work was worth the hardships.
What do you hope to achieve as Student Council before the end of 2019?
One of our most important goals is to gain the right to student participation in the direct election of our next university president. I hope the sit-in protest ends successfully. The 52nd student council election is just around the corner, and as Chair of the Central Election Commission, it’s my job to ensure the election is carried out successfully.
Is there anything you would like to say to the 52nd Student Council that will succeed Oneul?
Like the predecessor, I have fought hard to establish a strong student autonomy section, but I also realized improvements are essential for growth. If you feel overwhelmed with the position, please feel free to contact me. Lastly, remember to take care of your own health as well as that of all Sookmyungians and have a good year.
Thank you again for your efforts for a better Sookmyung Women's University. Please say a final goodbye to Sookmyungians.
I don’t know exactly what Oneul means to you personally, but if this year has given you the chance to reflect on society and yourself and the need for an independent student body to ensure the rights and interests of students, then I am fully satisfied that I’ve done my job. Please continue to support us until the final days of 2019 and then give your support to the new Student Council. Thank you.
Hwang Ji Su
- Division of Law ‘16
- President of the 36th College of Law Student Council (2018)
- President of the Interdisciplinary Program for Humanities and Social Sciences
- President of the 51st Student Council ‘Oneul’ (2019)
- Co-Chair of Univnet (National University Student Council Network)
Kim Shin Hyerin / Society Section Editor
Lee Hwang Hayoung / Reporter