An alliance of college students yesterday rallied outside the legislature in Taipei, calling for the University Act (大學法) to be amended to boost student representation at university meetings so their opinions could be a bigger factor in decisions over how higher-education facilities are run.
The students said the act should be changed to stipulate that a mechanism be created to ensure that students’ opinions be respected and their rights to education protected amid a trend of university mergers in recent years.
As provisions in the act contain unclear language over what meetings students can attend, an amendment should grant students a say in allocation of funds and elections of university presidents, the students said.
They said that military educators — soldiers assigned by the Ministry of Education to high schools and colleges to teach basic military training courses and protect students — should be gradually withdrawn from campuses, citing an incident in February when a military educator at National Chengchi University tore down posters containing short biographies of people killed in the 228 Massacre, fueling a wave of protests questioning the legitimacy of military educators.
Fu Jen Catholic University Student Association member Lin Zhi-hong (林志鴻) said the act stipulates that 10 percent of participants at university meetings can be student representatives, up to a maximum of 10, compared with 40 percent for administrative staff.
This disparity often causes students’ appeals to be vetoed, Lin said.
National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) student Yang Yu-teng (楊有騰) said that NTNU students were told they were to follow the National Taiwan University (NTU) schedules as a result of a “three-school alliance” formed between NTNU, NTU and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.
While the alliance has benefitted students, allowing them to sign up for classes offered at each facility, it also shortened the noon break and caused some class schedules to overlap, leading to some students having to graduate at a later date, Yang said.
He said that similar university integrations should be carried out on the condition that students’ opinions are accounted for and their rights fully retained.
NTU Student Association chairwoman Chen Hsuan-chu (陳宣竹) said that students at the university can participate in the decisionmaking process for construction projects, school planning and student affairs.
Students present fresh perspectives, which are missing among faculty members, and the association hopes that democratic values are fostered at all universities, Chen said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee made a resolution that military educators should be dismissed from campuses by 2021 and that the authorities should put forward plans to help them transfer to other positions.
Liu Chung-cheng (劉仲成), director of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Students’ Affairs and Special Education, cited a 2013 resolution that military educators should be allowed to leave their jobs if safety on campus can be ensured.
He said the ministry has set a cap on the total number of military educators it assigns to colleges and that it would consult with the Ministry of National Defense to devise job placement plans for former educators.
Nicole Lee (李彥儀), director of the education ministry’s Department of Higher Education, said her agency would deliberate over the necessity of the proposed amendment.
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