By Na Jeong-ju
Sungkyunkwan University said Monday it will reject students punished for bullying their peers at school from next year unless they express remorse and change their behavior.
Sungkyunkwan with campuses in Seoul and Suwon is the first university to adopt the policy.
“We’ve set up guidelines on evaluating applicants who have a history of bullying other students at middle and high school. We won’t accept them if they don’t regret their behavior, even if their scores are high enough to gain admission,” a school official said.
The measure is part of the Confucian school’s new policy aimed at strengthening character education, the official said.
Other colleges are expected to follow Sungkyunkwan. Early this year, the education ministry announced a set of measures to root out bullying, which includes documenting penalties for violent behavior on school records. Such records will be kept for five years for primary and middle school students, and 10 years for high school students after graduation.
Sungkyunkwan officials said the school will form an evaluation panel, which will check the personality and character of applicants. This will include contacting senior teachers, police officers, doctors and psychologists.
“They will participate in the process of selecting students. The panel represents our efforts to address rampant school brutality, which has become a major social concern,” the official said.
The Korean Council for University Education, which represents more than 200 colleges here, held a meeting of admission officials from 18 major universities last week to discuss how to punish bullies.
At the meeting, the officials agreed to introduce measures that reflect bullying records when evaluating applicants, the council said.
“We agreed on three principles ¡ⓒ rejecting applicants with bullying records who don’t repent their past wrongdoings, not giving disadvantages to those who make efforts to atone for their wrongdoings, giving advantages to students who help bullied peers,” a council spokesman said.
The ministry instructed schools nationwide to revise their internal regulations to give principals and teachers greater authority and responsibility when dealing with violence among peers.
Principals will be able to immediately suspend bullies if necessary. One extra teacher will be assigned to each class at middle and high schools so that at least two teachers can supervise students. The teachers will have one-on-one counseling sessions with pupils at least once a semester and deliver the results to parents.
The measures followed a series of student suicides attributed to bullying. Their deaths caused a public outcry and since then, educational authorities have come under heavy fire for poorly handling violence in schools.