With the #MeToo movement spreading like wildfire and sexual assailants being tracked down, Ewha has not been an exception. Allegations of inappropriate conduct against Sculpture Major Professor K and Department of Orchestral Instruments Professor S have brought anger and condemnation from the students. On March 19, an anonymous Ewha graduate student posted on the Art Me Too Facebook page and claimed that she was sexually harassed by Sculpture Major Professor K during classes and school trips. “During the trip, the professor rubbed my legs and touched other student’s body parts,” read the post on the Facebook page. She further claimed that during instances when the students were introduced to famous artists at drinking parties, the professor remained idle while a photographer B sexually harassed fellow students. Also, the revelator stated that the professor made numerous sexually degrading remarks by joking about how students should entice male curators in order to exhibit their artwork in famous galleries. “We learned the details of Professor K’s alleged sexual harassment through the Facebook page and news articles,” said a freshman of Sculpture major who wished to remain anonymous. “Our seniors have also told us to be careful of Professor K.” To give support to the victims and find a best possible way to heal their wounds, a Facebook page for the Emergency Committee on sexual violence in the Sculpture Major was created on March 21. Releasing an official statement through the Facebook page, the committee urged the school to meet the following demands: a thorough investigation of the alleged incidents involving professor K; a maximum penalty on proof of his charges; protection of the courageous victims from secondary harassments and threats. The committee is also collecting additional reports of Professor K’s sexual harassment via email and gathering joint statements to support students who have stood up. To further push the university to action, the committee held a press conference on March 21 in front of the school’s main gate. Saying that remaining silent in response to the victims is another wrongdoing, Division of Fine Arts’ Student Council and the Emergency Committee said they will not remain silent and urged the school to take action. The Student Government Association (SGA) also participated to condemn the school’s unjust process of sexual harassment discipline. “The members of the Faculty Disciplinary Committee are appointed by the chairman of the university board and meeting minutes are confidential,” said Jeong Han-kyung, vice president of the SGA. “The disciplinary measures are just a slap on the wrist. There is no room for the students to participate. What problems can be solved if students can’t participate in cases in which they are the victim? We promise to make constant efforts to resolve sexual violence issues and protect the human rights of our students.” Two days after the alleged sexual harassment of Professor K was disclosed, on March 22, another report of alleged sexual misconduct committed by Professor S in the Department of Orchestral Instruments shocked the school. Anonymous accusations claim that Professor S sexually harassed students during one-on-one lessons in his office by touching areas such as the lower abdomen, thighs, and near the breast. Students have also claimed that the professor repeatedly expressed sexual remarks. He allegedly said to a student that her nipples and her belly button would make an ideal triangle, and to other that she would give birth easily because she has a thick lower body. To deal with the multiple reports, an Emergency Committee on sexual harassments in Orchestral Music Major was immediately formed. They are gathering testimonies of other possible victims of Professor S and have released an official statement asking the school to urge punishment, prevent secondary victimization of accusers, and eradicate sexual harassment in hierarchical situations. The committee also held a press conference on March 23 in support of the accusers and to condemn the school for remaining silent and unfairly neutral in the issues of sexual harassment at Ewha. A crowd of students also gathered at the main gate and held signs that read “Prevent secondary victimization of students.” Many students also whole-heartedly supported the alleged sexual harassment victims covering the outer walls of Professor K and S’s offices in post-it notes. The majority of the post-its urged ‘sex offenders’ to leave the school. In response to the demands of the two Sexual Violence Emergency Committees, the Center for Gender Affairs has replied that they have started their formal investigation. The center has sent an official letter asking interested parties to fill in detailed statements and currently in the process of waiting for replies. Asserting that their priority is protecting the students, the Center for Gender Affairs has replaced the named professors with other lecturers and barred contact between the accusers and the accused. In addition, the center will try its best to closely monitor the Me Too cases even after they are resolved and seek severe penalties against the offenders if necessary.
On March 27, the Office of Student Affairs informed the students about future changes regarding sexual harassment penalization. On behalf of the revision of ‘Regulations Regarding Measures to Prevent Sexual Harassment’ last June, two students can be appointed to the Sexual Harassment Commission. Two students, one from the undergraduate division and one from the graduate division, will attend the Sexual Harassment Commission meeting taking place on March 30. The school has also shortened the formal statement submission deadline from the original 10 to 15 days recommended by Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to seven days for a prompt investigation of the matter. Currently, professor S has submitted a letter of resignation; however, the school turned down his request and stated that he needs to go through investigation and act accordingly to the results. “The current movement in Ewha is a collective effort to establish an atmosphere that respects and cares for all members of the school,” said the Center of Gender Affairs. “We will try our best to create an environment where students can feel safe.” Welcoming the changes made at Ewha but requesting for even stronger protection of accusers and dismissal of the accused professors, the students gathered at the main gate on March 29 for a march rally. Dressed in purple and holding purple balloons, the immense wave of students voiced out their utmost support for the victims and accusers.
Lee Tae-hee firstname.lastname@example.org