Several civic groups yesterday demanded that Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien apologize for saying that college students who work part-time are “stupid.”
Speaking at National Ilan University on Wednesday, Wang said that college students were “very stupid” to waste their time working part-time instead of spending more time studying.
He also said that many students worked because they only cared about money.
The remarks sparked criticism from different groups, especially from students who have to work to pay for their tuition.
Defending his remarks, Wang said students who criticized him have not “waken up” to the truth.
Wang’s remarks on Wednesday and his reaction to the criticism drew further fire from many civic groups yesterday.
Youth Labor Union 95 executive member Hu Meng-yu (胡孟瑀) told a press conference yesterday that many students have to work after school, or attend night school to be able to work during the day to pay for their schooling.
“If it were not for the economic pressure, who would want to live such a hard life, especially as many of [these students] are not even 20 years old?” she said.
“As the president of the Control Yuan, shouldn’t Wang pay more attention to the exploitation of part-time student workers at the workplace instead of making false assumptions about why students work part-time?” Hu said.
Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), convener of the Alliance for a Fair Tax Reform, said Wang Chien-shien should use his position as Control Yuan president to come up with a solution to skyrocketing tuition and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Vita Yeh (葉大華), secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, called Wang Chien-shien’s remarks “nonsense,” citing government policies that encourage students to work while they go to school in order to learn more.
“If what Wang Chien-shien said was true, why should people support the on-the-job training, summer work study programs and government internship programs put out by the National Youth Commission, the Council of Labor Affairs and the Ministry of Education?” Yeh asked.
Taiwan Labour Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said it wasn’t fair that public universities where tuition is lower seem to be dominated by rich students, while most economically disadvantaged students have to attend private universities where the tuition is much higher.
“Maybe that’s what Wang Chien-shien should look into,” Son added.
“The International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights — which was ratified by the legislature and became legally binding last year — stipulates that the legal minimum wage in a country should enable a worker to support his or her family,” Son said. “I wonder if Wang Chien-shien would be interested in launching a probe to see why so many people have to work extra hours to support themselves?”
Wang Chien-shien yesterday said his comments were made with the best intentions.
He said there was nothing much he could do “if people chose to nitpick [over what I said].”
“However, it was said out of good intention and I’m not in the wrong,” he said, adding that the public should not read too much into what he said or to quote him out of context.
“What I meant to say was that students should make good use of their time studying. When they are short of money, they can take a loan. Working part-time should be the last resort,” Wang Chien-shien said, adding that he did not mean to insult students.