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Wednesday,October 27,2021
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A Dismissed Professor Returns
In July of 2000, Prof. K, a DU professor in the Dept. of Sociology, sexually harassed an exchange student in Japan. (The Post already reported on DU students' opinion about Professor K's sexual-harassment scandal in the 323rd issue.)
That October, School Authorities (SA) decided to dismiss Prof. K after they investigated the matter themselves. On April 9, 2001, the SA finally dismissed him after a meeting of the Board of Trustees. However, Prof. K protested his dismissal through the Committee for Re-trial of Teacher Disciplinary (CRTD) (http://www.act.go.kr) under the Education & Human Resources Development. On June 19, the CRTD decided to reappoint Prof. K.
After hearing the news, the victim of the harassment, Ms. M, reported her ordeal to the Uijongbu police. And many student groups, including the General Student Council (GSC), the General Coed Student Council (GCSC) and the Student Council of College of Sociology (SCCS), organized the Committee for Human Rights against Sexual Violence (CHRSV, http://humanright.net21.net) to challenge the reappointment of Prof. K. And an ad-hoc committee for prevention of sexual violence on campus, consisting of each university regiment and several social groups concerned with sexual violence, was organized through a meeting in Korea Research Institute of Sexual Violence on August 23.
According to the CRTD, the reasons for his reappointment are: 1) Prof. K worked hard at DU without any disciplinary measures for 15 years. 2) Prof. K was decorated for his distinguished service to the women's movement by the Korean National Council of Women (KNCW) in 1997. 3) 201 university professors signed a petition for dealing prudently with the Prof. K matter. 4) Dismissal of a professor for sexual harassment is unprecedented in Korea.
According to CHRSV, however, the reasons presented by the CRTD are not convincing. They said, "Sincere work is just the duty of a teacher. And sexual harrassment is not a minor offense. Though dismissal of a professor for sexual harassment is unprecedented, it's time to discuss openly the issue of professors' sexual harassment. And the value of the professors' petition is not above the ideals of university life. That is why most DU students have demanded the dismissal of Prof. K."
Park Kyoung-tae, a former chairperson of the SCCS, said "A medal from a female organization can't be an indulgence of sexual harassment. In addition, the distinguished service medal from the KNCW was not only for Prof. K but also for students in the Dept. of Sociology, who helped in the KNCW opinion poll."
 Demands of the CHRSV made against the CRTD's decision are: 1) The Education & Human Resources Development must present clear measures to prevent a recurrence of sexual violence on campus. 2) The CRTD must review seriously the matter of Prof. K. 3) The SA must dismiss Prof. K. 4) Prof. K must apologize for his conduct publicly.
A staff member of the SA said, "The SA cannot help following the decision of the CRTD because it is protected by the special law for teachers."
Shim Ik-sub, the chief of the Faculty Council, said, "The DU faculty is very confused because the two persons concerned with the scandal are not giving any explanation about the problem. It is difficult to mediate between the two persons and, therefore, there is no single opinion even among professors."
The GCSC is preparing to bring a civil suit against Prof. K to set a precedent for treating sexual offenses, and is raising funds for the suit. They made it clear that they will fight until their demands are accomplished.
Yang Kim Yu-mi, the vice chairperson of the GCSC (http://members.tripod.lycos.co.kr/dguchw/), said, "The CRTD ignored the fact that a sex offense is a question of human rights. Professors' sexual violence to their students or abuse of power cannot be overlooked anymore."
"We demand that Prof. K must publicly apologize and resign voluntarily. Even some professors including Prof. H of Donga University, who signed a petition for Prof. K without knowing the exact facts of the matter, are opposing his reappointment. The CRTD declined to divulge the information related to their judgement, but we'll press them for it through a member of the National Assembly."
On September 26, the GCSC held an open forum about the Prof. K matter as well as discussing examples of sexual harassment by professors. It also covered school regulations against sexual violence and a proper understanding of sexual behavior. They will hold an open forum for exterminating sexual violence on campus with social groups separate from DU on October 24.
Prof. K was given two months leave from August 20, because of mental and physical stress. And classes which he was supposed to teach this semester were passed to another professor.
Cho Uhn, the dean of College of Social Science, said. "As a DU administration supporter, I'm sorry about the changes in the curriculum due to these scandalous cases. I hope the two sociology professors, including Prof. Kang, who were arrested over the Mankyongdae matter will be restored to their former positions and will devote themselves to their studies without further difficulties."
One student in Dept. of Sociology, however, said, "Prof. K has not acknowledged his mistake nor offered a sincere apology to the DU community. Though Prof. K was respected by students in the past, we are disappointed by him and cannot accept him."
The biggest obstacle toward solving this problem is Prof, K's attitude and his unwillingness to admit his mistake. Furthermore, when members of an organization shift the responsibility for a problem which occurred in their organization onto only the persons concerned with it, the problem will get worse and worse. It is time for the all members of the DU community to find the best way to solve this larger problem together.

Kim Dong-ho  dgudp@yahoo.co.kr

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