Yes, the University of Seoul (UOS) went through one of its roughest elections ever last year. In our last Cover Story, The UOS Times focused in elaborate details on the problematic process of the last presidential election at UOS. After that entire cock and bull story, the candidate of Gonggam Plus was elected as the president of the 2014 Student Council. At the very heart of Gonggam Plus, there was President Choi Won-jun (Dept. of Landscape Architecture). Due to last year’s fuss, the current Student Council inevitably faced untruthful rumors and reproaches; President Choi was no exception. Prejudices piled up, creating estrangement between students and the student president. Perhaps our readers may be deluding themselves into belief that they know a lot about the president. To be honest, I was also one of these people before this interview. But you might change your mind after hearing his story.
Choi as a Representative
Before the presidential term, Choi served as Vice-president of the Dept. of Landscape Architecture. Within that time, he felt a great need to change the stifling work process and let more students appreciate the works of the Student Council. “At this very moment, every member of Gonggam Plus is working to make a better school environment for students, even though most people are not aware of this fact. We are always dealing with workload after workload.” This overtime work is an extension of our last election. Gonggam Plus started its annual student services later this year compared to the usual. Staff members worked under shorter deadlines. Then, Choi came up with the idea of splitting work by creating a new bureau to let his people relax from their unending work. This new bureau is called the “cultural bureau.”
His working style is built from trust between one another. That is why President Choi took extra prudence when choosing the members of the current Student Council. Thanks to this cautiousness, he is able to completely leave the day-to-day decisions and processes up to the staff. Overall, he wants the council to enjoy their work, not feel jammed by it.
What do the Gonggam Plus members think of him as a representative of UOS students? “A comfortable representative” Choi does not think that an authoritative image of the school president fits him well. “An ideal representative should converse with the group he leads.” He tries to talk to every one of his staff on a daily basis. This effort to communicate resulted in a high level of satisfaction among council members. He is honest as well. Choi admitted that all of these efforts and their outcomes cannot meet every student’s expectations. He is well aware of some dissatisfactory opinions from the students and sometimes, their voices are provocative. Choi said, “Another phase of a good representative is admitting to these matters, but never becoming agitated in any situation.”
Current Business and Long-term Goals
Nevertheless, he has no intention of spurring for quick results. Everything is set up as long-term goal. Choi believes the Student Council’s main duty is to strengthen the basis for the future Student Council.
Just as the title of his candidacy “gonggam” (meaning empathy) suggests, two of his major projects were created to form social consensus between the Student Council and students: they are the “UOS Membership Aplication (henceforth app)” and the “Emile Project.”
First of all, the UOS Membership App is created for those who deserve the benefit of the student union fee. The use of this app is limited to students who fully pay the fee and provides discounts and complimentary services from enterprises near UOS. Previously, the Membership App was being test-operated and the boundary was limited to the Front Gate. The Student Council and the app-developing Central Club, QUIPU, have collaborated together. At this moment, it is only available to Android users, but Choi plans to upgrade the app by May 1, adding an IOS version.
Expanding all surrounding enterprises to include Rear Gate, Hoegi district and Cheongnyangni Lotte Department is another goal of this app before finalization. Choi plans to finalize the operation system of this app within a year and continue developing another app. During Choi’s time in the office, he not only hopes that this app is used for meals and other services but also for the “Lecture Evaluation Community” ? a project currently being developed by the Gwangjang manager and expected to be implemented next semester. “I would like to make ‘the one and only’ application dedicated to UOS students, run solely with student union fees.” He wishes that the future Student Council will take good care of this app.
If the aforementioned project was mainly about returning benefits for students, the Emile Project is more about communicating with them. Inspired by the famous Naver Webtoon, Choi, together with all of his staff, takes a role as jack-of-all-trades in UOS. UOS students can ask anything that comes to their minds during working hours (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) through Kakaotalk. Any Gonggam Plus members available at the time try to reply back as soon as possible. There are no perfect answers to every question but that is not the important point. Emile can make jokes and ask students how they are. No Student Council had ever tried such a direct or casual communication route with fellow students. Students show positive reactions to the Emile project. According to the staffs of Gonggam Plus, students preferred Emile to formal staffs when it comes to communication, highlighting the fact that it is humane to talk through an electronic device. The Emile Project certainly replenished the lack of amicable communication with the Student Council.
Emile Project on KakaoTalk
For Better Future
Staff hand-over every year is easier said than done. This has been quite a problematic part of the UOS presidency. Every council has faced a lack of records and information to lead all projects and events during their terms. Therefore, Choi’s follow-up survey on the satisfaction of UOS students is dedicated to every Student Council from the year 2015.
Never missing one single item of business or new project, president Choi always tries to do immediate follow-ups. This investigation involves creating a database for upcoming councils, and he is determined to hand over every last detail.
At this point, The UOS Times could not help but to bring up the issue of our last election. Choi also deemed election an important part of the “handing over” process. This means that the former council is responsible for providing a basecamp for the forthcoming one. “The former Student Council must directly manage the election from the beginning to the end. Justified Student Council representatives are the ones acknowledged and trusted by the students.” This year, Choi is working under a responsibility for the next election. What happened during the 2014 election must never occur again. Sooner had he been inaugurated as President, could Choi begin revising the voting system.
Choi has already supplemented the shortage in the number of student of the Central Election Management Committee and further promoted the process of voting by mobile. He seems ready to hand over the election schedules and duties to the next Student Council in the future.
At some point, President Choi appeared as a victim of last election, rather than a victor of his position. In spite of unfavorable condition, he was no grumbler to my surprise. Choi seemed more of a man on recovery from discord and distrust from last year. This is evidently reflected through his steady conduct. With a long-term goal, he neither rushes nor acts sloppy. Although he might look invincible, Choi cannot continue to bear the burden of never-ending rumors and opposing sentiment arising from Gwangjang forever. He would like UOS students to appreciate the council more than anything else which is quite small a dream for a person who represents a big body of students.
Students cannot ignore the invisible distance between the council and themselves. Keenness is hard to seek when misunderstandings burst out. Regardless, do not hastily misunderstand Choi along with Gonggam Plus who are willingly working to improve your school life: you don’t know Jun.