The 33rd Re-election for the Undergraduate Student Council (USC) Presidency has been cancelled once again after the Central Elections Committee (CEC) issued a disciplinary action statement against the election campaign, resulting in the forfeiture of the candidacy for Saero, the only candidate who had been running in the election.
The former USC, Batchim, held a referendum last October to determine whether it should carry out the rest of its term after a massive backlash against its participation in the Seoul Queer Culture Festival as a school representative. After a tie, the poll resulted in Batchim’s resignation and the disbandment of the USC. Though the Central Elections Commission (CEC) began accepting new candidates in November, no student applied within the given period. Thus, the Emergency Response Committee, Rise, has filled the gap temporarily to maintain the necessary functions until a new USC could be elected.
Finally, on March 11, the CEC once again commenced applications for presidential candidates; Kyungho Byoun and Myeongchan Ko, the presidential and vice presidential candidates in order, were the only duo to do so. Both had served in Batchim and Rise as Heads of Student Welfare and International Affairs respectively.
However, the pair accrued a total of one warning, two strikes, and three orders of correction due to violations in their election management, such as incomplete forms or not posting official apologies for previous infractions on time. They received an additional final warning on March 19 due to not notifying the CEC of the content of the group messages six hours after they have been sent. However, two warnings count as a strike according to the election rules — in accordance with Article 60 Section 4 of the election regulations, “three warnings will result in automatic forfeit of the candidacy of the offending party”, Saero has lost the candidacy at the time of publication.
Before its forfeiture, the campaign team had held an open forum on March 16 to explain its agenda and stance. Saero’s policies heavily centered on welfare and quality of life issues on campus. The first section underscored their pledge to solving food-related challenges: alleviation of delivery restrictions, superior vending machines and stores, and weekend operation of the school cafeteria. Along the same lines, Saero emphasized its aim of improving the dormitory environment by replacing the aging facilities such as showers and washing machines and contracting with companies to carry out beginning-of-the-semester cleaning. They also promised curricular improvements, such as facilitating retaking courses, requiring useful syllabuses, guaranteeing approved leaves, expanding humanities courses through transfer of credits from other universities, and allowing students in military service to study online and receive AU for sports.
However, the KAIST Student & Minority Human Rights Committee expressed many key concerns as the sole participants of the student panel. Citing the previous omission of the education on the rights of sexual minorities and internationals from the Freshmen Program led specifically by Byoun, the committee requested an explanation for the decision. In addition, they articulated their concerns that minority rights will become overshadowed amidst the process of satisfying the individual needs of the students. Though Ko voiced his opinion that there are enough resources in place for minorities to submit their grievances and request assistance, Byoun and Ko stated that they would work to ensure that no minorities face hate speech, and that they will take preventative and following measures to protect their rights.
The proposal has been deemed unimportant, however. Though Byoun and Ko submitted a formal objection against the decision, requiring a reinvestigation by the CEC, it rejected the appeal. Thus, the school has once again been left without a USC. Ko expressed lament, “We are sorry that we could not be a helping hand for the international students due to the cancelation of the election.” Only the general elections for the departments that did not elect their representatives have been held. The recruitment for another Emergency Response Committee has begun.