Sookmyung will soon start large-scale reconstruction. Hand-written posters are attached to pillars of every building, long articles are posted on the online community, and students feel uneasy and anxious. In regards to department mergers and abolition and the establishment of new departments, canard groundless rumors have unwarrantedly spread throughout Sookmyung. Thus, the Sookmyung Times investigated the real situation and problems occurring in the process.
How’s the Weather of Sookmyung?
The weather at Sookmyung isn’t good nowadays because of ongoing discussion about reconstruction which has been the topic of debate for the last five years after the last reconstruction. Below is a chart showing the planned reconstruction proposal.
The school officially indicated their stance on reconstruction and the background for changes. First of all, externally, from 2018, the number of admissions at university will exceed the number of students graduating high school. Thus, the Ministry of Education has requested universities to decrease their student body, and if schools follow the request, they will get added points needed to receive additional financial support. In this context, Sookmyung felt changes were needed to its school system. On the other hand, internally, in 2013, Sookmyung only ranked 31st among universities on an assessment by Joongang-Ilbo, which shocked Sookmyungians. In this regard, the school suggested reconstruction as the way to improve school quality. Since most departments at Sookmyung have few students, it aggravates the competitive environment toward academic progress via in depth study or research compared to other prestigious schools. The school announced a 3 percent decrease to student numbers in each department to make room for new students in the Engineering College from 2016. The school expects more funding from the government by encouraging more research through an Engineering College since Engineering Colleges are generally proactive research centers. Thus, the authorities regard an Engineering College as the breakthrough to overcoming the school’s limitations.
Voice from Students
Lee Nahyun│School of English Student President
Abolishing the independent division is like ignoring the achievements of those departments. Independent division includes the Department of TESL and the School of Global Service and is still in the process of establishing an identity for its newly established departments. Thus, SMU needs to focus on substantiality, not department mergers. Also, although we are not against change itself, reorganization is going in the wrong direction. It needs to be reconsidered and revised. The School of English and the School of Global Service have completely different academic backgrounds. It’s too superficial and simple-minded to merely integrate the two schools in regard to only English. We look forward to school authorities detailing their stance more openly.
Kim Jiyeon│College of Science Student President
It understandable for SMU to consider reorganization to ensure a better future; however, the plan is laden with problems and it is unacceptable to learn from one-sided notification. In addition, the name of the proposed faculty that will encompass four different departments does not convey the four departments. Thus, we are not able to understand the changes and follow. Without a doubt, it is a good idea to think about separating bigger colleges; however, the university needs more active communication with students. Moreover, the university has said that the Departments of Dance and Physical Education, currently with the College of Science, will have their own separate new faculty. In this regard, the College of Science is disappointed and wishes the university works for students more.
Im Yeonsoo│School of Communication & Media Student President
Just as our grievance post on Sookmyung community states, the university is going ahead with reorganization without discussions with or consent from its professors, students, and teaching staff. The university should not reduce student body numbers or merge colleges without prior agreement of affected parties. Also, the university’s decision to transfer the School of Communication & Media to the College of Social Sciences is ‘forced reform.’ In fact, the School of Communication & Media has yet to see its 1st graduating class or show the achievements of the alumnae. It's difficult to know the exact evaluation basis that led to the transfer to the College of Social Sciences. Our school hopes its students will not have to suffer any more ill-treatment from the university's inconsistent policies.
▲ Departments that refused an interview with us were omitted.
Dark Clouds Overhead
Two main points detailed in general issues came up during reconstruction. First, the university seems to be causing a lack of communication and engaging in one-way reconstruction. It has not only valued the importance of employment rate but also belittled humanity majors. Moreover, the process of reconstruction also seems inappropriate. Especially, a huge number of students were exposed to wild rumors regarding reconstruction so they experienced difficulty acquiring true facts. According to the research, 41% of students answered this is the biggest problematic aspect of this reconstruction, and 86% of students felt difficulty recieving information as it was only passed via handwritten posters, friends, or online communities.** In particular, the school’s disclosure of information about reconstruction at the student meeting was not done voluntarily; it was done only because the student council demanded its release. Director of Planning said, “We were unsure about how much we should reflect students’ opinion regarding issues like reconstruction.” However, some criticism lies with students regarding this issue as well. A lot of students half-heartedly communicated with the university. Last May, the student meeting was not even half full of attendees. About 80 people were present and 35 of them were school authorities. Students are just expressing their anger and charged opinions through online communities. The significance of the student meeting was to give students opportunities to debate and express their ideas directly to the school. It would have been better for students to show up and participate in the meetings than be immersed in rumors.
Every Cloud has a Silver Lining
Research showed that 81% of students are either dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with the new reorganization plan. It would be best if the school were to carefully look at student views concerning a department of unification and provide convincing and satisfactory explanation to students. At the same time, students should try to be more voiceful about expressing their views even if the matter has little relevance to them. The university, professors, and students all have the same goal: advancement of the school. It is not the matter of who gets the most benefit. It is more important to talk about the method of achieving advancement. Through this reconstruction, many people hope that Sookmyung will overcome this crisis in a wise manner and become a more mature university.
** Research was carried out by the Sookmyung Times, and 190 students participated in study.