Strolling through the campus in late November, the General Students Association election campaign can be easily spotted here and there, especially to students of Hanyang University (HYU). Campaign brochures and banners written with ambitious pledges help to grab the attention of passers-by, and we can feel the feel the fierce competition between the candidates.
When it comes to voting, some actively cast their vote while others are often lukewarm to the school’s political system. The latter, who halfheartedly vote, if at all, may simply follow their peers when voting or be swayed by a campaign camp. Whatever the reason, those that do vote may as a result come to realize how indifferent they had been in asserting their rights as HYU students.
To promote student awareness on the school’s election system and the importance of casting votes, Internet Hanyang News is here to enlighten you on HYU’s General Students Association starting with its establishment to the current 41th Student Council.
The HYU General Students Association is an organization that was formed for the sake of student welfare and thus to obviously be beneficial. The main role of the Student Council is to reflect the majority’s opinion and voice student proposals when new policies are discussed. The organization also takes part in hosting and organizing events such as the spring and fall festivals. Another major role of the Student Council is to negotiate tuition fees particularly since this is a highly sensitive issue these days.
The beginning of HYU’s General Students Association dates back to 1960 when the association was first organized. The social atmosphere during that time was hostile as young people showed antipathy toward the authoritarian government. Student protests reached its peak during the hunghee Park, and Doohwan Chun Administrations due to their dictatorships. Those who took part in the student movements were generally progressive minded. They fought for social reform and democracy. HYU is well-known for its student rights activists and was even referred to as the birthplace of the student movement.
Since the 1990s was a period when a majority of college students rebelled against what they viewed as unjust political authorities challenging their individual rights, the members of the General Students Association were mostly comprised of student activists. However, such a trend came to an end as the wave of democracy swept the nation. In 2002, for the first time in HYU’s history the Students Association put aside its political focus and instead concentrated more on student welfare. Also, they began to respect the opinions of the general student population. Since then, the Student Council has been more active in asserting students’ concerns.
The way of campaigning has evolved. Whereas in the past, candidates focused on face-to-face campaigns such as doing public speeches, now thanks to the development of Social Network Service (SNS), camps are utilizing low cost and efficient ways to increase students’ participation. Through Twitter and Facebook, the campaigning camps are providing updates and notices about their campaign pledges to the public. SNS is highly effective in that it delivers messages to a large audience and is fast communication. Such methods are well suited to young tech-savvy college students who of course are the main target.
In terms of offline campaigns, candidates form their campaign teams by recruiting volunteers who wish to take part in the process of advertising and distributing messages to the student population. This indirectly shows voters how much support a candidate has and implies how influence the candidate may have. In addition, candidates also visit each department, which is similar to door-to-door campaigning, and deliver a short speech before and after lectures. Such a way of campaigning can be effective since the listeners are more likely to pay attention than if they were passing by. Thus, the message is effectively heard and remembered.
On the Nov. 22, 2012 the results of the 41st General Students Association election was announced. Winning approximately 55% of the total votes among a voter rate of 54%, the camp “To gather” was elected as HYU’s next Student Council defeating its rival candidate camp, “Inside” by 1,078 votes. The two candidates from the successful camp are Ju Hyoung Son (Computer Science and Engineering, 4th yr) and Woong Kim (Mathematics, 3rd yr), who were nominated president and vice-president, respectively. They pledged to establish a friendly Student Council that is always willing to listen to HYU students.
The To gather campaign pledges involved lengthening the number of school days back to the original16 weeks from the current 15 weeks. They have also promised to encourage students to actively participate in the Student Council meetings. They also plan to randomly go into classes to listen to what students want and in turn, consider those ideas when formulating new policies. Among the campaign pledges, the one that received the most attention was the ‘McDonalds pledge’, which aims to enable HYU students to patronize McDonald’s at a lunch-time-price anytime. Another pledge was to conduct a meeting with the Seong Dong District Office to propose ideas about renovating the streets of Wangsimni to include quality facilities and a cleaner atmosphere.