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A Prevention Before It is Too Late

On April 16th, Sewol ferry sank with 476 passengers on board at the coast of Jindo. Although over a month passed from the day of the accident, there are still a lot of things to be solved. People feel helpless about the fact that they could do nothing for the victims who died hopelessly in the cold water. In an atmosphere of cherishing the dead, it seemed like the whole nation’s attention is concentrated at Jindo. The only positive aspect was that we saw the hope of our society from people trying to share the pains of others. Everybody was willing to do something and heal the deep scars together. However, instead of just sympathizing the victims and their families, we have to pay more attention to the fundamental points.


Sewol ferry disaster has an important implication. It gave us a chance to look back at the serious ills of our society. Every part of the society showed its malfunction. We discovered how much the related businesses and government departments were corrupted. Although the direct reason of sinking has not been proved yet, the disaster was somewhat predictable. If we go down to find the root of the accident, we cannot help but ask the responsibilities of the members of congress who were too occupied with their own business. Their indifference upon justice and principle resulted into this tragedy.


Of course, it is extremely unlikely to manage an organization perfectly upright and by satisfying all members. I, too, cannot tell that I have led a complete conscientious life. Nonetheless, it is a serious matter that the student councils, which have to work for the students, by the students and of the students, are so incompetent. What is even worse, is the fearful fact that they might end up like the politicians who have been incompetent in dealing with the Sewol incident.


For instance, there was a huge fuss on campus about the distribution of student union fee. Distribution should have been done at the beginning of the semester. Nothing has been done. There were only arguments that are still to be solved. It is because of never-ending war that student representatives of each college play to bring more budgets to their own side. What makes the situation worse is that there are no specific rules in making decisions during the meeting. In other words, since the details about the proceedings do not exist, those meetings cannot fully concentrate on the issue itself but also the conflict expands to the systematical matters.


This status leaves us a room for a question. There must have been a lot of troubles in the past as well. If there was a precedence to handle similar problems, or if there was an objective standard that everyone must follow, would the conflict become this deepen without a point of contact? Without basis, nothing can be improved. Therefore, they should put an effort to make rules and principles which can be applied coherently in first hand before propelling something new. In that way, the system will be settled and the discussion would become more efficient.


Uncertainty of budget execution is another chronic disease. General Representative Council, who are in charge of the actual accounting, is not opening the detailed account statement which grows students’ distrust against them. To appropriate the budget more effectively, there should be a feedback about the previous. But they are just delaying to provide the information without any acceptable reason. As a result, it is inevitable that students’ growing bigger distrust against the Student Council. Students are the ones who should receive various welfare with the student union fee they payed. Why the students should just wait without appropriate explanation?


While this chaos is still ongoing, the annual school spring festival was canceled to cherish the victims of Sewol ferry disaster. And I heard this from my friends long after the decision was made. Since the reason to cancel the event was so evident, I did not have any complaint about the fact. But is the festival simply just canceled? Or is it postponed and held with the festival in fall? Then what about the money that should be spent on the spring festival? Although there were a lot of things to be explained, no one gave me the exact answer. I could not even find any official announcement on school homepage.


A short notice on Student Council’s Facebook timeline was all that I could get information with this matter. They said they decided to cancel by collecting students’ opinion through a survey. However, most of the students did not even knew whether they were being polled, and how the issue was discussed. Although they did not implemented the survey at a wide range, why did they used expressions like their decision came from the public unlike the results? I felt keenly the absence of communication.


In a way of facing the tragedy, the government shifted responsibility back and forth. They had vain discussions and did not sincerely communicate with the bereaved families. As people expected an honest apology and effort consequently, what the students expect to the student body would be the same.


Somebody might think this comparison is bombastic. However, if everybody worked their best in one’s position following proper rules, would those innocent people has been sacrificed? University is another small society. We never know how future problems will be solved if the communication problems do not get solved immediately.

Hwang Min-kyung  dgpost@dongguk.edu

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