In the previous edition, published on Sept. 4, CBT dealt with the integration discussion between CBNU and KNUT (Korea National University of Transportation). This article is a follow-up article and covers the integration discussions and CBNU’s situation that took place later.
There is still no specific integration plan
On Sept. 5, a public discussion regarding the Glocal University 30 was held for all students, staff, and professors at the Gaesin Cultural Center. This discussion was largely conducted in the order of ▲ Glocal University 30 project explanation ▲ answers to prior inquiries from members ▲ onsite Q&A, and free discussion. The panel discussion was canceled during the pre-meeting because there were no staff wishing to attend the panel, so it was actually a Q&A briefing session. As with previous student meetings, no specific integration plan was presented. In fact, in response to what to do in the case of similar departments that cannot be integrated due to failure to reach an agreement in the professor’s prior inquiry, CBNU head of the office of planning Seo Yong-seok said, “The number of cases where problems can arise, such as the name of the department, is diverse, so we are currently continuing discussions with KNUT. We will discuss it in depth in the future and explain it as soon as a decision is made.” In addition, in response to an online inquiry about how the planned employment support program differs from the current program, CBNU head of the office of student affairs Hong Jang-eui said, “Detailed strategies and methods cannot be disclosed as they are managed in secret.” This means that much of the content cannot be disclosed because it is a competitive innovation plan. Lee Seong-min(Dept. of Consumer Science, 19), who attended the discussion online, said, “The president and the headquarters should present the true meaning of integration by presenting accurate arithmetic figures rather than vague expressions.” He continued, “If a specific plan for integration is not presented, students cannot trust CBNU.” This is not just the student’s opinion. According to CBNU Faculty Council’s “Study for Future Development Plans of CBNU,” in response to the question “Please suggest a solution to conflict after integration,” a general professor said, “The vision for the direction in which CBNU will develop after integration must be clearly presented. Specific and practical support measures should be provided for departments and members who are at a disadvantage due to restructuring after integration.” Additionally, an opinion was expressed that “if headquarters does not share specific details of discussions, it will only create anxiety within CBNU.”
The repercussions of the president’s reversal
At the fifth meeting on Aug. 18, the president’s reversal of the voting decision-making method for and against integration triggered the push for protests. The previous statement that integration would not be pushed if a majority of either the professors, staff, or students opposes was reversed to decide the voting method through consultation with the faculty, staff, and student council. Afterwards, on Sep. 1, the details of the three entities’ consultation were announced. It was stated that if two of the three entities opposes, the project would not be pushed. In other words, the student council, faculty council, and staff council could not agree on not pushing the project if one of the three entities opposes. Accordingly, starting on Sept. 6, the Central Steering Committee, composed of college student council presidents, held a protest demanding withdrawal of the project if one of the three entities opposes. The Student Union Against Integration, composed of general students at CBNU, also joined in and independently held protests against integration, which included changing the university name, relocating the campus, and issuing an integrated diploma. Regarding the reason for continuing to insist on the university name and college relocation despite the president saying that there is no possibility of changing the name of university and that there is no relocation of the college from Cheongju to Chungju, Gil Tae-yang, representative of the Student Union Against Integration, said, “On Aug. 31, a meeting with CBNU and KNUT was held on the possibility of a change in the university name to some extent at a signing ceremony for agreement on principles of step-by-step integration. This contradicts what the president has said to the students so far. We will continue to protest until the president fills out a legally binding document not to change the university name.” It is interpreted that the president’s words cannot be trusted unless legal documents are drawn up.
Students’ thoughts on CBNU’s method for pushing on integration
Students who participated in the protest pointed out problems with CBNU’s method for pushing on integration: ▲ hasty administration ▲ low trust in CBNU ▲ insufficient information sharing and communication.
CBNU pushed ahead the Glocal University 30 project on the premise of integration without holding project briefing sessions or meetings for all students, and signed a win-win development agreement on May 11 as a foothold for integration. In other words, there was no prior announcement through the internal network, and students learned about the project through news articles. Head of the office of planning Seo said, “Other universities had been preparing for the project for more than a year in advance. On the other hand, in the case of CBNU, the presidential election was delayed and there was about a month left until the preliminary designation. It was necessary to collect opinions from members of CBNU before submission, but in reality, it was difficult.” Noh Seong-hyeon(Dept. of Management Information Systems, 18), who participated in the protest on Sept. 11, said, “I think CBNU’s current method for pushing on integration is a kind of hasty administration in that there was no sufficient explanation first to students.” Student A(Dept. of English Language and Literature, 21), who participated in the protest on Sept. 26, also said, “It is unfortunate that CBNU seems to be hastily pursuing integration. I think that polarization and internal division issues between CBNU and KNUT could worsen when integrated, but CBNU does not seem to take sufficient time to consider this issue.”
Low trust in CBNU
In a statement on Sept. 12, CBNU President Koh Chang-seop apologized to the students for the issue of overturning the voting decision-making method for and against integration, saying, “It occurred entirely due to my careless remarks.” Student B(College of Business), who participated in the protest on Sept. 11, said, “On the first briefing session, I clearly and directly heard that if one of the three entities opposes, there would be no integration, but now that president has reversed the decision, so I am now protesting.” He continued, “I hope the president will take responsibility for what he said.” Student C(Dept. of Management Information Systems, 18), who participated in the protest on Sept. 18, also said, “I can no longer trust CBNU’s administration because of the president’s change of words.”
Insufficient information sharing and communication
CBNU is promoting the Glocal University 30 project through the website of CBNU and social media, and has had conversations with members of CBNU through the past six meetings and discussions. However, there is public opinion within CBNU that communication between students and CBNU is lacking. Excluding the first meeting, all five meetings had less than ten student attendees, excluding members of the press and the Student Council Emergency Committee. The fact that the meeting was held during vacation when many students were not in Cheongju and that the meeting schedule was not properly promoted appears to be the reason for the low attendance rate. Student D(College of Business), who participated in the protest on Sept. 11, expressed regret over limited information sharing, saying, “It seems like accurate information about how CBNU will change after integration is not being conveyed.” President Koh said, “If we take building remodeling as an example, taking a broad bird’s eye view perspective, it will cost hundreds of millions.” He continued, “It is difficult to talk in detail as we are currently at the stage of proposing a model.” It is interpreted that there are limits to sharing the information students want in the current situation.
According to exit poll results, 87% of students opposed the integration. Why are they against it?
According to an exit poll conducted by CBT reporters on Sept. 20, 87% of 72 respondents opposed integration, 10% approved of it, and 3% kept the voting results confidential. The reasons why students opposed integration were similar to the thoughts of the students participating in the protests. Student E(College of Education, 22), who voted against integration, said, “I think the project itself is helpful to CBNU, but I think sensitive and unpredictable issues such as integration between universities are being pushed forward hastily without discussion and in-depth research among various members.” Student F(College of Electrical & Computer Engineering, 21), who voted against it, said, “It is disappointing that there is no smooth communication with students about the project.” Meanwhile, there were students who raised issues with the Glocal University 30 project itself. Student G(College of Education, 16), who voted against it, said, “I think the long-term intention of the project is positive, but I think it is an imperfect project with room for supplements.” In fact, there are critical voices saying that the government’s glocal university policy will accelerate university polarization. President Koh said, “Polarization is not a good phenomenon, but if the government is implementing it anyway, I hope that CBNU will be selected and become a university that receives intensive support and benefits.”
During the actual vote, 87.41% of students opposed it, but CBNU headquarters continued to push the project forward.
The outcome of CBNU’s vote, for or against integration, held from Sept. 19 to 20, was that 70.91% of professors and 65.01% of staff voted in favor, while 87.41% of students voted against. The turnout was 89.97% for professors, 93.83% for staff, and 59.15% for students. In contrast, at KNUT, 61.6% of professors, 72.7% of staff, and 72.4% of students voted in favor, with a majority of all three entities in favor. After the vote, President Koh announced that he would continue to push forward the project in a statement on Sept. 21, saying, “I will gather various opinions from members and faithfully incorporate them into the Glocal University 30 project plan.” On the other hand, the Emergency Committee’s position is that additional agreement is needed because there was no agreement on the result of the vote that one of the three entities opposed. The student council, faculty council, and staff council held discussions again over the results of the Sept. 22 vote, but no agreement was reached. Then, on Sept. 23, the Emergency Committee announced a statement stating that “We would maintain absolute opposition to integration and fight against the president and CBNU headquarters.”
Chungnam National University (CNU) is separately carrying out the Glocal University 30 project and university integration after failing to be selected for Glocal University 30 preliminary designation on the premise of integration with Hanbat National University. CNU President Lee Jin-sook said in a statement on Sept. 14, “We will organize and operate a preparatory committee in which members participate to systematically prepare for next year’s project.” She then emphasized, “We will closely analyze innovation cases at other universities and prepare specific internal innovation plans such as reorganizing the academic structure and fostering specialized fields through policy briefing sessions.”
Currently, CBNU submitted the Glocal University 30 final designation plan on Oct. 6. If the final selection for Glocal University 30 is not made, there is a high possibility that the integration with KNUT will be canceled. President Koh said, “Integration is not the goal. In fact, the goal is for CBNU to be selected as a glocal university. If CBNU is not selected in the final project, whether we should continue to pursue integration is another issue.” On the other hand, once CBNU is finally selected as one of the 30 Glocal Universities, the process pushing forward integration will be accelerated. If the conflict within CBNU surrounding integration remains at a standstill as it is now, it is clear that protests against integration will continue for a long time. This is a time when continuous communication between the student community and the headquarters will be desperately needed.
By Kim Chan-ju | email@example.com
By Park Su-min | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Seok Yeon-ji | email@example.com