Have you ever heard the famous saying, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow"? It was spoken by Albert Einstein who led the future of humanity by establishing the theory of relativity. Today, the world stands on the edge of 2016, wishing each other a 'Happy New Year.' Just as Einstein sums up in his famous quote, now is the time to reflect back on the past, learn from history, and have hope for tomorrow. The Sookmyung Times makes such a journey by going back to several principal events of Sookmyung’s 2016 school year.
Following in the Footsteps of Sookmyung
This month marks the end of another year. People reflect on the year that has just passed and welcome the new year. They review their resolution completions for the year and make new resolutions for the coming year. Sookmyungians also need to close out this year and prepare wisely for the next by looking back. Reminiscence allows one to take a second look at events and make provisions for possible upcoming events. Additionally, it is a wonderful opportunity for students to make giant leaps forward, both academically and socially. With this being the final edition of the magazine for 2016, The Sookmyung Times felt it was the perfect time to retrace the steps of Sookmyung throughout the year.
2016 at Sookmyung is an article that chronologically organizes and summarizes events and activities at Sookmyung Women’s University, for it is in 2016 that Sookmyung Women’s University was rocked by happenings. The university hosted a variety of programs such as Sookmyung Honors program. There were also discussions on school regulations such as the lack of classes to meet demands and the absence of a Sookmyung Student Union. 2016 saw the inauguration of a new president and structural reorganization of several departments. With the multitude of occurrences on campus, the Sookmyung Times gathered them all and placed them in the following categories: the absence of the Sookmyung student union, the protest by security workers and custodial staff, the PRogram for Industrial needs- Matched Education (PRIME), and the new president, Ms. Kang Jeong-ae. By once again considering these four events carefully, Sookmyungians will come to a clearer understanding of the points of disgruntlement, which in the end, will lead to campus improvements.
Smooth Sailing after a Shaky Start
One of the biggest events in Sookmyung Women’s University in 2016 was the absence of a Student Union. In November 2015, because of several regulation violations the party FORWARD was disqualified from the electoral process for Student Union. In March 2016, the Central Election Management Committee had to rush to hold a byelection because of the disqualification. FORWARD was the sole candidate that term. A by-election had to be held, but it had to be postponed because no one was ready to run as a candidate. Once the by-election was ready and new candidates stepped forward, the Central Election Management Committee was reorganized into the Emergency Planning Committee and started working for Sookmyungians. The election process was an unprecedented event in the history of Sookmyung Women’s University. Never before had the Emergency Planning Committee took over the responsibility of acting as Student Union for an entire school year. During 2016, the Emergency Planning Committee set about on a variety of tasks including hosting the Chungpa Festival and organizing the Sookmyung Opinion Announcement. The absence of a Student Union caused many Sookmyungians to worry about an increased lack of communication between the school and students. A survey at the time found that among 438 students, 36.5% of respondents struggled with the idea and worried about not being properly representing.1) Also the situation highlighted student poor devotion to their responsibility and to ensure they are properly represented by a student council.
Another large scale event at Sookmyung in 2016 was the protest by security workers and custodial staffs. Because of their poor working environment and low wage, they formed an alliance to protest against their treatment by erecting placards, gathering in large groups on campus, and voicing their right to survival. The school’s announcement to adopt a new automatic security system by installing security cameras and monitors all over the campus was seen a threat by them to their job security and to the safety of students on campus. Students at Sookmyung Women’s University were surprised to learn of the situation and felt the school was treating its employees unfairly. Many students expressed their anger over the ill-treatment of security workers and custodial staffs and showed their support by participating in a signature campaign. Badges with drawn images of employees and the mascot of Sookmyung were made and distributed during the demonstration. After a tough battle, both employees and the school agreed to engage in discussions that detailed a new labor agreement on March 28th. The school promised to raise employees’ wages, improve their working environment, distribute uniforms, and guarantee holiday leave. Cho Dukyoung, security worker representative, said “Thanks to students' support, the school and employees could arrive at an agreement."2) He also said that he was happy that the school agreed to better their working environment. The demonstration brought about not only positive change in the school for employees but also unified Sookmyung Women’s University students thoughts and hearts towards all at Sookmyung Women’s University.
Approaching the End
Besides the above mentioned events, 2016 saw Sookmyung Women’s University chosen to operate the PRogram for Industrial needs-Matched Education. Sookmyung Women’s University will be receiving maximum of 150 billion won over the next three years, that is, until the year 2018. The money is to be used for PRIME, and aimed solely at school quality improvements. With the additional fund, Sookmyung Women’s university will extend its College of Engineering. In 2016, the College opened with few majors offered. It only offered Information Technology and Applied Physics, and Chemical and Biological Engineering. However, with the extra financial support from the government, Sookmyung Women’s University will offer additional majors such as Basic Engineering, Mechanical Systems Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering. Second, the money is expected to flow into other colleges and majors, especially those in which student capacity has been reached or is overflowing. At the beginning there were some disgruntled opinions over PRIME among the College of Literatures, Law, and other humanities subjects as they were forced to decrease their student body. Sookmyung Women’s University has promised to provide these departments with support as compensation for the disadvantage they received because of PRIME. Lastly, the fund is expected to enhance the quality of lectures at the university. Thus, SM DDP+ or Sookmyung’s Diagnostic Digital Portfolio will also be re-structured in order to better provide students with information on employment opportunities.
The final huge event at Sookmyung Women’s University this year is the election of a new president. Ms. Kang Jeong Ae was elected new leader of Sookmyung and she took office on September 1st of this year after her inauguration as 19th president of Sookmyung Women’s university. President Kang has worked as a professor in the Department of Administration at Sookmyung Women’s University since 1998, and from 2002 to 2008 she held the title of Head of IPP Center, at the center for employment and careers. President Kang’s campaign platform centered on three promises: develop the value of Sookmyung based on participation and communication, establish a stable financial structure, and improve club services and IT infra structures. President Kang said that she ran for office after learning much from Sookmyung over the past year. She started at Sookmyung Women’s University as a student, then went on to become a teaching assistant, a part-time lecturer, and a professor. She believes she knows what is essential and what Sookmyung Women’s University needs to go forward. She has promised to implement ‘Renaissance Sookmyung’ based on her knowledge, ability, and experience throughout her years at Sookmyung.
2017 for Sookmyung
In 2016, a lot of events shaped Sookmyung Women’s University. Even as this is printed, Sookmyungians are placing each foot forward for the university. Although most activities were initiated with good intentions and had positive results, there were those that were negative. However, every black cloud has a silver lining. Through those events, Sookmyungians could learn from the mistakes and worked towards development and better solutions and actions for the coming years. Failure teaches success. Motivation rises from lessons learnt from mistakes. The future will surely glitter. The Sookmyung Times hopes that the next year holds for both Sookmyung Women’s University and the students leads to positive change at Sookmyung Women’s University in terms of development and glorious achievements.
1) Jo Yeeun, "Students Feel That The Student Union Needs Some Support", Sookmyung News, September 26, 2016
2) Kim Uijeong, "Wednesday 23rd Security Workers Come to An Agreement Regarding Succession of Employment", Sookmyung News, March 28, 2016