By Lee Hyo-sik
The government’s recommendation to reinstate a Korea University professor who had been suspended by the school for sexually harassing a female student is drawing strong protests from students.
According to Korea University Friday, the Appeal Commission for Teachers, affiliated with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, recently suggested that the school withdraw its decision to dismiss the professor at the College of Political Science and Economics from his post, citing procedural inappropriateness.
In July last year, the university suspended the professor for three months after discovering that he sexually abused a female graduate school student he supervised in May.
In December, the school’s personnel evaluation committee decided not to re-appoint the professor to his position, citing a past record of sexual harassment and his heavy-handed teaching style.
To protest the university’s decision, the professor filed a petition with the Appeal Commission for Teachers, which was established to protect teachers’ rights by hearing complaints about disciplinary actions imposed on them.
The committee ruled the professor should be given his job back against Korea University’s action. It said the school did not follow the proper procedure in dismissing him, adding it should have held a board of directors’ meeting to make such a decision.
However, Korea University students strongly oppose the committee’s move to reinstate the professor, stressing he is not fit to be a teacher.
One female student said the school should not accept the government’s recommendation if it wants to prevent sexual harassment from taking place on campus.
“I do not think he will change his behavior. If he is allowed to return, more students will be abused by him. For the sake of students and other members of Korea University, the management should make a wise decision,” she said.
The controversy came days after three male students at Korea University’s medical school sexually assaulted a fellow female student during a field trip. On May 21, the three took off all her clothes and touched her body after she got drunk and fell asleep.
The victim later filed reports of sexual harassment to the university’s center for gender equality and the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center under the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, sparking a police investigation.
Korea University students and the Young Medical Doctors’ Association have been urging school management to expel the three medical students.
고려대가 제자를 성추행한 혐의로 징계를 받은 교수를 복직 시키려 해 논란이 되고 있다. 의대생들의 성추행 사건이 있은지 얼마 되지 않아 파장이 커지고 있다.
10일 고려대에 따르면 인사위원회는 '이사회의 의결을 거치지 않는 등 재임용 거부 결정 과정에서 절차상 하차가 있었다"며 문제를 일으킨 K교수에 대한 재임용 거부를 취소시켰다.
K교수는 지난해 7월 대학원생 제자 A씨를 성추행한 혐의로 정직 3개월의 징계 처분을 받았다. 이로 인해 12월에 열린 인사위원회의 재임용 심사에서 탈락한 K교수는 교육과학기술부 산하 교원소청심사위원회에 소청심사를 청구했다. 고려대가 이를 받아들이면서 논란이 시작됐다.
학생들은 "그동안 K교수의 언행으로 볼때 교육자로써 적합하지 않다"며 재임용에 반발하고 있다. K교수는 지난 5월 성추행 사건 당사자를 만나 사과했지만 학생들은 진정성을 의심하고 있다.고려대대학원 학생회는 'K교수 복직에 반대한다'는 내용의 대자보를 학교 곳곳에 게시했다. 또한 학생 40여명은 같은 내용의 탄원서를 총장 이메일로 보냈다.
한 학생은 "이번에 재임용이 허용된다면 또 다른 피해자를 양산할 것"이라며 "K교수의 강압적인 행동에 피해를 본 학생들이 많다"고 말했다.