SEOUL, Feb 11 – The student council of state-run Seoul National University (SNU) launched Wednesday a body to cope with sex offenses on campus following a recent series of sexual harassment cases involving professors.
Prof. Kang Seok-jin from the Mathematical Sciences Department at SNU, the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the country, is now undergoing a court trial on charges of sexually abusing nine female students.
Two more SNU professors from the dentistry graduate school and the business administration division are also under investigation by the university’s human rights center on similar suspicions.
“The student community’s efforts are needed to overhaul the fundamental structure where such cases are created,” SNU’s acting student council and the council for graduate students said in a press conference.
“We will propose measures to overhaul the current system in order for (sexual abuse) victims to be able to come forward more safely to disclose their issues and to create a forum in which students can make their voices heard.”
Many student victims usually shy away from reporting sexual abuses by professors because they are afraid of the power and influence professors often wield, the students said, urging SNU authorities and the judiciary to come up with due punishment on Kang.
The new student body will closely audit the court proceeding on Kang while pushing to create a consultative body between students and school authorities on the sexual abuse field, according to the student council.
It will also get involved in collecting sexual damage cases among students and launch campus campaigns against sexual violence by professors, it also noted.
The SNU university faculty came under fire late last year for accepting the resignation of the mathematics professor amid mounting sexual abuse allegations.
The resignation, if recognized, would have sustained Kang’s entitlement to severance pay and pension right and automatically ended the school’s internal investigation on him.
In the face of rising criticism, the school withdrew the decision and the prosecution formally charged Kang in late December for sexually molesting nine students from 2008 to July 2014. (Yonhap)