This is one of the important documents relevant to Prof. Laughlin's KAIST presidency.

Scans of Original Documents - Received 29 Nov 04

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2500 KAIST Undergraduate Students
Request to Open the Details of the Parents Trust Fund
and Democratic Management of Parents Trust

[Translated by Harrison Lee]

Sent by: KAIST 18th Student Council
Received by: Robert Laughlin KAIST President
Subject: Student Council's demand for opening the details of the Parents Trust Fund and its activity report

0. Contents
I. Activity Report
II. Request to open the details of the General Account and Parents Trust Fund Account
III. Request to democratic management of Parents Trust.
* References

I. Activity Report


- The KAIST undergraduate Student Council asked the Support Team to open the Parents Trust Fund Account on 16 Feb 04. [1]
The Parents Trust Fund fee in 2001 was 682,000 won per semester for every student. This increased to 716,000 won in 2002. In 2003, freshmen had to pay 787,000 won per semester while all other students paid 751,000 won. In 2004, freshmen and sophomores had to pay 865,000 won per semester while junior and above paid 788,000 won. Since 2001, the fund has increased about 5% annually - 10% annually for students who were freshmen in 2003.
- We have repeatedly asked for a report justifying the 5% and 10% increases, and have also repeatedly requested public disclosure of the details of the Parents Trust Fund.
- However, the KAIST Student Support Team has repeatedly refused to honor our requests.


- As KAIST is a public organization, the Student Council asked for disclosure of this information through the Freedom of Information Act of Public Organizations.
- The Student council made an open information request at the online window for civil service linked to the MOST homepage ( It was submitted to MOST through the internet under the name of Kim Hye-Min, KAIST Student Council President. [2]
The information we requested included details of the estimated budget and closing account of the General Account and Parents Trust Tund from 2001 to 2003, details of estimated budget of the General Account/Parents Trust Fund of 2004, and the minutes of Parents Trust Fund from 2003 to 2004.
- MOST responded by phone around 8 May 04 that they would send the Freedom of Information request to KAIST after a short delay to check the request's legitimacy.


- The Student Council learned that the KAIST Budget and Planning Team received the official document of Freedom of Information request from MOST around 11 May 04.
- According to the Freedom of Information regulations, KAIST was to provide the information within 15 days. Information was provided around 24 May 04. [3]
- However, the omission of a few crucial details made this information almost useless. The Student Council judged these omissions to be outrageous intentional deception.
- Accordingly, we subsequently requested that KAIST reveal the entire Parents Trust Fund Account and General Account. We formulated appropriate questions using the information that KAIST provided us and submitted this new request on 4 Aug 04. [4]
- There has been no answer from KAIST about these official requests, even though 3 months have passed since we submitted them.

II. We hereby request that KAIST disclose all details of the General Account and Parents Trust Fund Account.

1. Justification for Disclosure Request

- The Parents Trust Fund fees have been increasing steadily in recent years. Not surprisingly, students have been asking the reason for these increases. The Parents Trust administrators simply answer that they lack sufficient budget. If so, it would be desirable for the Parent Trust to explain why there is a shortage and how short it is.
- The Freedom of Information of Public Organizations specifies that the public organizations - nations, local autonomous entities, government investment organizations, etc - have the duty to reveal information known to them in order to secure the people's the right to know, the transparency of national administration and the people's participation in national administration. Since KAIST is a national organization, it is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. That means we are entitled to receive information about money paid by students, and also general information about school affairs. Although information capable of causing great economic damage can be legitimately withheld, we doubt that the information in question lies in this category. Moreover, even it did, we think that information about school affairs should be disclosed unless it would cause immense economic damage. The people's right to know is fundamental to democratic society. However, KAIST just ignored our requests for details of Parents Trust Fund until we forced it to reveal them using the Freedom of Information Act. This willful obfuscation has caused us to distrust KAIST all the more. We now believe that KAIST should bring forth a counter-argument for not revealing the details of Parents Trust Fund - e.g. opening the details could hurt the school - since it is a great disadvantage to have distrust and conflict between the school and students.
- In order to know for sure that the fund is being spent properly, the General Account of KAIST must be examined simultaneously. This is because the Parents Trust Fund is used for managing KAIST, along with the governmental contribution, KAIST's own income etc. As the KAIST Parents Trust rules specify that it should (1) supplement the shortage of facilities, (2) support the expense for KAIST management or education activities, (3) support the co-op programs, and (4) support other business incidental to the Parents Trust, the goal of Parents Trust Fund must be to secure urgently needed education facilities and support education activities.
- The highest body of the Parents trust is the Board of Trustees. In order to check how priorities are determined, what kind of business is being promoted, the budget appropriation process and details of decisions made by the Parents Trust Committee, we need the minutes of Parents Trust Committee. However, the minutes of Parents Trust Committee provided by KAIST contain no details at all - only titles of report agendas and decision agendas. But the real minutes must contain all the details of reports and discussions during the meeting. It is impossible for the KAIST Undergraduate Council to understand the information about the Parents Trust Committee with only titles of reports and decision agendas. Therefore, we request that KAIST reveal all details of report agendas, decision agendas and business plans (or agendas).

2. The points in question about the disclosed information.

- It is impossible to understand the details of expenditure of the Estimated Budget and Closing Account thoroughly.
It is difficult to understand the meaning of 5. "Asset Purchase Expense", 6. "Facility Expense" in (1) "Student Reward Expense" in the Education Research Support section. Taking (1) "Student Reward Expense" as an example, knowing the matter of reward, how many students get the rewards and how much reward was given to each student are essential to understanding the expenditure. Requesting the Estimated Budget and Closing Account of the Parents Trust Fund is not merely about knowing the total amount of the Estimated Budget and Closing Account but confirming that the expenditure was proper – e.g. whether the expenditure was increased as much as the tuition increase. Therefore, details about each item rather than just an explanation about the expenditure are needed.
- The points in question about the details of the estimated budget and closing account of the fund.
The balance of previous year and the balance carried over of next year do not match. For example, while the official balance of the fund in 2002 was 1,027,350,000 won, the balance carried over of the fund in 2003 is only 751,025,000 won. Assuming that the balance in 2002 is the difference between total income and total expenditure, it must be 1,200,932,000 won (7,848,850,000-6,647,918,000). We demand an explanation for these kinds of points in question.
- Also the Estimated Budget and Closing Account of the General Account have indefinite items such as 7. "Seoul Branch Facility Allotted Charge" in VI. "Extra Business Expense.
- Also 1. "Daeduck KAIST School Affair Expense" exists in II. "School Affair Business Expense". More than 24 billion won - 24.2 billion won in 2004-has been appropriated annually for this expense. It is judged that the details of Daeduck KAIST School Affair Expense would be the similar to that of Parents Trust Account, so we suspect that these 2 accounts might be duplicated appropriations. We demand an appropriate answer for these points in question.

3. The right KAIST students to know and their rights as members of the Parents Trust must be guaranteed, therefore we request disclosure of details of the General Account and Parents Trust Account to resolve those the points in question.

III. Request for Democratic Management of Parents Trust.

1. Current Management Problems

- The KAIST rules mention the Parents Trust Fund only once below.

Article 88. (Parents Trust Fund) KAIST has Parents Trust, and the Parents Trust can charge a certain Parent Trust Fund fee. (Chapter 4 Clause 1 tuition, scholarship and graduation and performing military duties)

Although it is expressed that the parents trust fund "CAN CHARGE" there is nothing specified about compulsion or the penalty for not paying it at all. Chapter 4, clause 1, article 87 (Tuition) says, "The students in each course have to pay tuition (differentiated between entrance fee and school fee) within the registration period." But the Parents Trust Fund is not included in the tuition that students must pay. However KAIST has charged the Parents Trust Fund as a kind of tuition, in that the School Register Team, which levies Parent Trust Fund charges, said that those who don't pay the fee cannot be in school.
- Originally, as the Parent Trust Fund was regarded as an endowment because the Fund had begun to supplement the shortage of school budget through parents' voluntary participation, many students entering KAIST knew that their tuition was exempted, but few students knew that they had to pay this fee. It is necessary to reveal this fee and to make the purpose of Parent Trust clearer through mutual agreement rather than a little vague expression "Can charge".
- As the members of the Parent Trust are the people who pay the fee, and since the fee is paid under the student's name, the member of the Parent Trust is the student. (The payment notice is delivered to the student's home and it is paid as a kind of gift, so it could also be interpreted that the parents are the members of Parents Trust.) However, the members of Parents Trust never heard that they were members of Parent Trust at all, since neither a General Meeting nor an election have been carried out in last 5 years. Furthermore, although we asked for details of Estimated Budget and Closing Account, we didn't receive a reply until last year.
- The members don't know anyone on the Parents Trust Committee, but a rumor has spread among KAIST undergraduates that the Parents Trust is composed of wealthy families who are not burdened by the amount of the fee and reflexively say "Aye" at Board of Trustee meetings .

2. We request the democratic management of the Parents Trust.

- For democratic management of the Parents Trust to be credible, the Parents Trust must send a notice regularly before General Meeting is held. For reference, former congresswoman Lee Mi-Kyung, who used to the member of National Assembly Education Committee commented, "Even though we consider the point that parent participation in managing the Parents Trust is not easy in practice, universities must find a way to guarantee transparency through various methods, such as opening its management or involving parents or students in the Parents Trust", after she investigated national universities' undemocratic Parents Trust management.
- We request below that the Parents Trust be demcratically managed.
We request that parents be sent a notice every semester that the Parents Trust fee is charged.
We request that the general meeting be regularly open, as written in the Parents Trust rules.
We request that members of the Parents Trust be given the right to read the minutes of Parents Trust Committee, including the details of report and decision agendas.
We request that student representative or parents recommended by students be required to participate in Parents Trust Fund board meetings.

KAIST Student Undergraduate Council

* References

[1] Official document sent by Undergraduate Student Council to Student Support Team on 16 Feb 04.
[2] ... This link has gone bad.
[3] Material made available by KAIST to Student Council as of 24 May 04.
[4] Response of Student Council to Student Affairs Team sent 4 Aug 04.
[5] Newspaper articles pertaining to Parent Trust Fund abuse.

18th Undergraduate Student Council