One day, your friend says to you, “I have a complaint about Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU).” Then how do you answer your friend? “Bring this trouble up to student council,” or “I don’t know. Just stand.” Although the reality would be the latter, maybe the right answer could be the former. As its name indicates, the student council represents students. They are endeavoring to make our low voice to be real as a spokesperson for us. However, how well do you know about your spokesperson?
How Do You Work For Us?
In 2012, SMU’s student council is the 44th, “Humanitas.” Humanitas is a Latin term that means ‘the touch of humanity,’ so it claims at first to do everything for SMU students. To realize what they say, they departmentalize their activities. Most of SMU’s council is composed of seven areas - the executive office, which deals with basic office work such as budget accounts; the welfare department, which administers sponsors or facilities and sells jackets during special seasons; the
publicity department, which reports various activities of the student council and advertises events; the planning department, which designs wide events such as Heollumjae (festival to introduce clubs in SMU) ; the solidarity department, which bands in business with many organizations and members around SMU; the Internet ad department, which advertises through the Internet or advertises on the student council homepage or Facebook; and finally the department for gender equality, which works for women’s rights such as making group purchasing of women’s special items or opening sex education seminars. Student council divides its activities into two main classes, one related to only SMU, like lowering SMU’s food expenses or vending machines, and the other related to all university students, like half tuition.
Our Voice Becomes Your Goal
Most Sookmyungians communicate with student council through the Sookmyungian bulletin board. In this cyber space, students tell their difficulties in university, and the student council reads these things and writes comments about how they can solve these problems. Also, student council reports their activities and asks Sookmyungians’ opinions on their activities through this bulletin board. For example, many students, including nickname acisia requested heating the class during the winter session. After reading this, the student council made connection with the installation support team. As another example, one student using the Internet nickname AIRIN said the university should raise Internship’s hourly wages from 4500 won to 5000 won. It’s because although the minimum wage in Korea is 4580 won now, SMU’s administration internship’s wage can’t satisfy this standard. On this opinion, a lot of Sookmyungians agreed and student council started to gather various researches to present this requirement. In fact, the 43rd student council, Real Student Council, performed various activities in the university and made results such as improvements of the toilets and materialization of grades. In this way, students and the student council are communicating for better rights of SMU’s students.
2 Different Opinions
The student council at SMU is a very powerful organization. Recently in 2011, a SMU student
representative even became the head of the Korean University Unions. Being the school that produced the head, it is inevitable for student council members to avoid the criticism of being too involved in political activities. Generally, there are two opinions regarding this issue. For instance, Lee Jiyoon, who is a sophomore majoring in Economics at SMU said she does not think it is necessary to restrict student councils from participating in public demonstrations. “Student council has always been involved with political activities whether they like it or not. That is something
that one cannot change. Student councils represent students and their job is to make sure that voice is heard in society.” On the other hand, there are groups of students who feel differently. Kim Daeun, freshmen majoring in Chinese said, “I think our student councils are too interested in getting social rights. Everybody knows that being part of student council can help one to build up her career as a politician. It seems to me that student council members are only interested in their future career plans instead of students.”
According to Choi Boram from student council, she believes that the organization is doing the
best it can. She commented that in Korea, lots of university students from student council actively participate in public demonstrations. It may be seen as focusing too much on the outer matters and being too involved in political activities. However, the fundamental drive and the motive comes directly comes from the needs of students. For instance, when there was ongoing debate and
demonstrations about lowering tuition fees, the main support was all from regular students who attended the university. The majority of student council members believe that the organization represents students and that they are the voice of students. They ensure student’s rights through research and various activities.
What a Sookmyungians Expect from You
Nowadays though, a lot of students view student council as part of their spec rather than their voice, and the size of the organization is one of the biggest in school. A lot of students are being part of school activities along with supporting student councils. To break away this thought, recently, student council opened up a Facebook club for SMU students in order to better communicate between students. Up until this time, the student council would use the school website in order to find out the problems students had. A great number of studies and upcoming events organized by the student council would be done through the web page. However, many students had great difficulty noticing because most of the updates were all done on-line. Also, the student council has had a tendency to address concerns and problems only through commenting on Sookmyungian bulletin board. Active communication requires more than just posting short comments on the website. What it takes for one to understand about certain problems is to directly talk to people in person. Asking various questions and finding out why is the what the SMU student council seems to be lacking. Instead of trying to communicate online it may be more effective for them to come up with intriguing events that can gather students and ask about their feelings and
concerns they have. The student council admits that the way they communicated with students was problematic since lots of students missed out on what was really going on within the organization and the events that were coming up.
Hope the Better Together
According to a senior who is part of student council, being a member of student council takes time. To be the voice of students, they regularly need to check how students are feeling about particular activities that the school offers. They use on-line research or inperson polls to find out but according to the source, the most commonly used method is to ask friends. Student council members thoroughly ask and talk about the issues that their friends have within the campus, and that is how they continue on with their regular meetings. They believe when one needs to find out about certain matters, the best way is to take advantage of intimacy and the closeness they share with their friends. Using such methods they go on coming up with solutions and decide what should be the goal and resolution about certain problems. As student council members spend a great deal of time organizing new activities and events for students, they remain very close to each other. Although people may typically believe that the atmosphere within the group may be very
harsh and formal, the truth is they try very hard to break down the walls since each voice from
the organization is also the voice of students. After all, the work of student council is finally completed when students themselves take interest and participate actively on improving systems and services that the school offers.