Seoul National University’s student council on Wednesday called on the school to answer for a recent scandal involving the hiring process for a new music professor.
“Because of the scandal, SNU has failed to hire a new professor and students are being deprived of their opportunity to learn,” the council said in a press conference held at the campus in Gwanak-gu, Seoul.
On Tuesday, SNU announced that it will not hire a candidate selected by its College of Music to be the new professor of the Department of Vocal Music. The candidate had been accused of being under-qualified and receiving favoritism from one of the incumbent professors.
Students have complained of the shortage of staff members; the SNU music college has repeatedly failed to hire a new professor for the past 10 months.
A graduate student surnamed Cho had filed a petition asking the university to resolve this issue.
According to the student council, Cho had been pressured to withdraw the petition by school faculty who told him not to engage in demagoguery. One of the lecturers even threatened him, the student council said.
Late Wednesday, the SNU student council released a statement demanding that the faculty members apologize to Cho and fire the lecturer who allegedly threatened him.
The lecturer in question told local media he merely advised Cho not to get involved. He claimed the “advice” was out of care for Cho, and said his choice or words may have been “a little extreme.”
This is not the first time the vocal music department of the nation’s top university has been embroiled in a scandal.
Last week, SNU said it launched an investigation into claims that one of its professors from the Department of Music had sexually harassed a 22-year-old female student. According to the student, the 49-year-old professor had sent sexual comments and photos while demanding her to send him photos of her breasts.
The professor in question first claimed that the messages were simply a typo, and later said the messages and been taken out of the context and distorted from its original meaning.
SNU is reportedly mulling actions to reform the scandal-ridden department. A daily here reported that the university is even considering shutting down the department, which would make it the first SNU department to close due to scandal.
An SNU official denied the rumors and said no decision has yet been made. He said that the university is still investigating the matter.
By Yoon Min-sik and news reports