A student is delivering a speech about the necessity of the General Coed Student Council (GCSC) to the participants of the demonstration. It started at 7 P.M. in front of the College of Social Sciences
/Photograph by Kim Ji-min
The GCSC in universities is fading away into history
The year 2018 could be assessed as the year of feminism. Starting from the Me-Too movement, there was a great increase of the interest for feminism in several sectors such as books, movies, and others. However, in universities, the situation seems different with the current atmosphere. Some contend that since women are not the minority any longer, the necessity of the General Coed Student Council (GCSC) is doubtful. The voice of asking for the abolition of the GCSC was heard in every university. As a result, Dongguk University was not an exception. Regarding this, The Dongguk Post will look for the cases of other universities and investigate burning issues of the GCSC of Dongguk University.
The history of the GCSC dates back to the past when the opportunity of education was not widely open for women. At that time, the university’s student body was “male-oriented.” Therefore the GCSC has been established in order to protect women.
However, now a lot of universities are abolishing the GCSC or remaining it vacant. According to the report of “Recent Activities of the GCSC in 2015-2018,” among 100 universities, those with the GCSC are only 22 universities. Furthermore, during the last five years, 70 percent of it has disappeared. Currently, among the few universities with the GCSC, Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) held a referendum on abolishing the GCSC, and Yonsei University passed the bill to reorganize the GCSC.
SKKU held the election to abolish the GCSC
SKKU is one of the universities which has abolished the GCSC. How was this outcome elicited? Also, what are the after effects of the abolition of the GCSC? For several years, the GCSC of SKKU has remained vacant due to the absence of candidate. However, for 2019, with the candidate willing to run for the GCSC, “Where is the gender equality going” of Sungkyunkwan University (Sung-seong-eo-di-ga) appealed to the General Student Council (GSC) of SKKU to proceed the election. However, at the general meeting, some representatives of college revealed the opposing stance and questioned the necessity of the GCSC. Soon, this discussion was selected as an agenda during the meeting. According to the rule of SKKU, the General Representative Council (GRC) could put the agenda to referendum if the votes for an agenda exceeds two-thirds.
After all, the repeal of the GCSC has moved on to the student-initiated referendum. As a means to appeal the necessity of the GCSC, Sung-seong-eo-di-ga declared a boycott. With three days of election day, the total vote did not go over 50 percent, which means the election has foundered. However, without clear reasons, the GRC extended the date. Eventually, the total vote went over 50 percent, and 83.4 percent of students voted for the abolition of the GCSC.
Regarding this, Yoon Kim Jin-seo, one of the members of Sung-seong-eo-di-ga, showed discomfort. She revealed, “We took our stance by boycotting the election. However, the GRC just extended the date, and made out the result. For the election of the GSC, it is common to extend the date, since the creation of the student body is necessary. But, this is a different matter. It is the election of asking whether to abolish a student organization or not. This is totally wrong.” She added, “The GCSC, which took the stance of the minorities, cannot go out of force easily. The organization for the minority cannot be gone by the decision of the majority.” With the absence of the GCSC, the GSC of SKKU does not have a clear solution to have an alternative for the GCSC yet.
The GCSC of Yonsei University will go through a reform plan
On May 24th, a lecture was held as part of human rights festival at Yonsei University. However, inviting the author who was responsible for the lecture provoked a debate whether the author is the appropriate one to hold the lecture. This anger sparked approximately 1300 students to gather their signature and show a strong opposition to the lecturer. With this flow, students have asked for the reform plan of the GCSC. These voices led to a referendum whether the GCSC needs to be restructured or not. On June 15th, the restructuring of it was passed with the votes of 82.24 percent. There are different views whether the GCSC is needed or not, but the common opinion was that it needs to go through reorganization process.
Acknowledging the opinion of the majority, the GCSC became the main agent and recruited Task Force (TF) team. The GCSC held a great debate and public hearing to discuss the direction, purpose, system and the name of the GCSC. However, definite conclusion has not been made yet. There are still ongoing discussions and meetings in order to carry out the plan. The Chairperson of the 29th GCSC of Yonsei University0 mentioned, “Since my term ends soon, the next Chairperson of the GCSC will take the job and continue with TF team to reorganize the GCSC.
Necessity of the GCSC came under the controversy in Dongguk University
On November 21st, the proposal of the abolition of the General Coed Student Council (GCSC) was accepted by 75.9 percent of the referendum and even the formal objection of the result by the GCSC was rejected. Now, there is no GCSC in Dongguk University anymore. What happened around the GCSC in Dongguk University?
Last year in Dongguk University, the existence of the GCSC has been embroiled in controversy. From 2015 to 2016, the GCSC was in absence as no one applied for the candidate and the voting rate was lower than 50 percent. However, in 2017, “Dongteum” party was elected as the 30th GCSC. The controversy did not start right after they were elected. It started last year during the term of “Moving” party by an article which raised doubts upon details of budgets. Through Dongguk Bamboo Forest, the facebook page that Donggukians share their thoughts, one person wrote an article questioning why the GCSC used the school budget as their food expenses. The GCSC was criticized by many Donggukians. Therefore, they wrote an apology statement, but explained that it was not against the school rule. According to the school rule, the expense for activity could be used as food expenses so they just followed them. Though, they admitted this act was inappropriate as the GCSC and they should have been more careful of using student union fee.
After this, many Donggukians started to demur why the GCSC is needed. First, they asserted about the right to vote and the use of the student union fee. According to the school regulation, only female students can vote for the election of the GCSC. Moreover, the student union fee is paid by all of Donggukians optionally. For this reason, they argued that it is a contradiction that male students cannot vote for the election even though they pay for the student union fee. Then, who is going to carry out the role of the GCSC when it is abolished? This was one of the main points of the argument. Those who claimed to abolish it said it could be substituted by the Human Rights Center or be included as a subordinate body of the General Student Council (GSC).
At that time, the GCSC refuted those opinions through the announcement, saying “The GCSC stands for protecting female students. If we are substituted in other ways, then we will no longer exist as an independent agency. It becomes really hard to handle sexual assault cases because there are a lot of procedural restrictions.” They answered to the question why the GCSC uses the student union fee mentioning “Furthermore, women’s human rights issue is not women’s matter only. It is the social agenda that every Donggukian should concern.”
The progress toward the GCSC’s abolition went along rapidly
Although there have been some arguments on the GCSC since last year, the actual process of the abolition took only three weeks. On November 3rd, on “Everytime” application, which is the anonymous community for university students, one person made a Google Form and gathered signatures from students to request a referendum for the abolition online. It is because when the signatures of 500 students are gathered, the demand of a referendum is possible. Park Cheol-woo, the Chairperson of the General Representative Council (GRC) received the letter with signatures on November 5th. After the GRC meeting, he asked for new signatures submitted by offline regarding the legitimacy of the letter.
Donggukians are expressing their opinions about the abolition of the General Coed Student Council in the great debate. This discussion was held on November 14th in the Choheodang seminar room.
/Photograph by Kim Ji-min
The GRC also held the great debate “The maintenance or abolition of the GCSC and the direction” on November 14th in the Choheodang seminar room. About 50 students participated and expressed their opinions. Without the participation of the GCSC, the discussion proceeded for about two hours. Many participants emphasized the democratic procedure that male students should have the right to vote for electing the GCSC. On the other hand, one student said, “To surveil a male-dominated society is the reason why the GCSC must exist. The suffrage only for female students is the only way to withstand male-dominated society. If the gender equality is accomplished, only then male students will have the vote and the GCSC will naturally disappear.” However, it continued getting no further than rehashing the basics. Any solution did not come up and nothing was decided whether the vote is going to be in progress. That night, more than 500 students signed for the vote of the abolition and the GRC announced to hold a referendum. The vote went off during the student council election period. From 19th to 21st, 7,036 students voted and 75.9 percent of them voted yes.
Female students who participated in the Female Studen's General Meeting “If not now, when? If not me, who?” are raising the placard to vote for a scheme whether to recruit the Task Force team. However, this work could not be proceeded as the abolishment has been decided after the meeting.
/Photograph by Seo Yoo-jeong
Students who object to the abolishment initiated some activities
While the GRC was counting the votes, the GCSC held the Female Student’s General Meeting, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” In the meeting, the GCSC posed a problem that rules of the GCSC has not been changed since 1985, so the revision is necessary. For the revision, participants exchanged their opinions and decided to organize the Task Force (TF) team. They also discussed the process of recruiting the TF team. During the last few minutes of the meeting, one student suggested officially raising objection to the abolition vote which is stated on the school election law Section 4, Article 58. The meeting ended about 9 P.M. and a lot of female students went in front of the Main Hall to recite the declaration where the ballot count was in progress.
Moreover, there was a demonstration hosted by the GCSC next to the College of Social Sciences that anyone could participate in. Donggukians and a lot of students from other universities including Yonsei University, Kyonggi University, Sungkyunkwan University and the school newspaper of Ewha Womans University and Sookmyung Women’s University participated. All the participants shouted slogans against the abolition of the GCSC holding candle lights and some students made a speech in front of them.
There is no more GCSC in our campus
However, on the next day, the result came out with 75.9 percent of favorable votes of the abolishment of the GCSC. The GCSC strongly opposed to this, so they disputed the decision by gathering 384 signatures of Donggukians and conveying them to the GRC. To have a moment discussing the direction and the necessity of the GCSC with Donggukians, they also planned conferences which were going to be held three times every Friday from November 23rd to December 7th. Unfortunately, it could not go along as the GRC rejected the proposal of the objection and announced the abolishment of the GCSC officially. In this regard, the GCSC came to an end by uploading an article “We still Exist,” requesting Donggukians to consider how to solve the equality problems ahead.
Since last year, there have been arguments about the GCSC and the result of the referendum shows that it reflected Donggukians’ public sentiment so far. However, as the GCSC claims, we cannot but think that the process moved too rapidly without enough conversations. In these circumstances, which organization is going to be in charge of every kind of sexual violence and women’s human rights? The Human Rights Center? The General Student Council? Or the new organization? We should keep on eye on this matter.
Kim Ji-min, Seo Yoo-jeong firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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