A UOS professor who behaved inappropriately to students was brought before the disciplinary committee in May. The professor of the School of Environment Engineering was accused of having used violent language and inflicted physical punishment on students who attended the classes.
This affair surfaced because of a poster hand-written by an anonymous student. During inquiry into this poster, other students who had suffered wrote down how they were humiliated by the professor in the name of education. For instance, the professor had spat out insulting language like “Commie” or “Blockhead” and used a bamboo stick or a fist to hit the shoulders of students who had spoken out wrong answers to questions or could not answer questions in class. In addition, there were sexist remarks to female students in class. One time, the professor said, “women over 30 years, they should not think of themselves as young when they’re getting married.”
On February 15, for this misconduct, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea concluded that “the behavior was enough for students to feel humiliated and ashamed,” and urged the professor to complete a special human rights education course conducted by this institute. On March 22, the UOS Ethics Commission earlier decided to admonish the professor by revealing the real name. In response to these disciplinary actions, injured students insisted that these are light punishments, and criticized the university for not convening the Disciplinary Committee. Students also said that the light punishment may have been justified by the administration due to the professor’s record of being awarded for excellence in lecturing, and the administration’s judgement viewing the behavior as unintentional.
An anonymous student said that “injured students took a leave of absence, shocked by the incomprehensible actions of UOS. On the other hand, the professor took a sabbatical year, as if nothing had happened. This unaccountable situation infuriated me. It should not happen again. UOS must contemplate the protection of students’ human rights.” The interviewee also worried that people might see UOS as trying to conceal critical issues like this.
Amid the growing controversy, UOS scheduled a first meeting of Disciplinary Committee to discuss the violation of the maintenance of dignity as a professor on May 2. The Disciplinary Committee was composed of three members of UOS as well as six external members. The members of the committee argued over the degree of disciplinary action and examined whether the professor’s behavior violated human rights intentionally and critically.
By Jung Myoung-jun
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