The KAIST Emergency Response Committee (ERC) has expressed its full support for the students at Seoul National University (SNU) in their battle against sexual assault, encouraging KAIST students to participate in the joint statement made by SNU students. The statement addresses the case of a professor’s sexual assault and repeated violations of research ethics, and it urges the university president and authorities to respond appropriately and take great responsibility for the problem.
The SNU community has called for the dismissal of an anonymous professor accused of sexual assault, and it has declared that any professor who has committed sexual assault should be immediately dismissed. One victim had, in fact, attempted to file a case to the SNU Human Rights Center, only to have the professor be recommended for a measly three-month suspension. Students in turn began a 26-day hunger strike in hopes of eliciting a response from the university to create countermeasures, but apparently failed to elicit a significant response. Some students who accused the professor and the members of his department of tolerating the prevalence of these actions have even been dismissed as mere slanderers of the department’s reputation.
The SNU statement also targets the weak due process of dealing with ongoing cases. Most times, the victims’ accounts are ignored, largely because such cases are handled by a large fraction of university professors with very minimal input from outside. Thus, student opinions are often disregarded and professors tend to get away with their wrongdoings. The students are demanding a voice in the disciplinary committee for these cases, as well as the opportunity to assert one’s rights when they are violated. They include the right to be informed of the case, the right to involve themselves in the resolution of the case, and the right to return to the community.
The SNU community claims that the issues of gender inequality and influence-peddling in the general workplace have always promoted an unprogressive culture in academia, and the simple silence towards the situation indirectly tolerates these perennial problems. The ERC reflected similar views and added that KAIST has had experience with the infringement of rights being neglected as well. They acknowledged that such an occurrence is toxic to an academic environment aiming to nurture great learners, which led to its decision to support the SNU community’s cause.
There will be a plenary session held on May 27 to protest against the inaction of the involved administration on the case. The link for the joint statement created can be found in a post on KaDaejeon.