Recently, I read the notes of the Todai student Kanba Michiko, who was active in the Anti-Security Treaty Protest Movement in the 1960s and was killed in the clashes with the riot police, when the protesters attempted to storm the Diet. After she had passed the entrance exams, she listed in her notebook the things she wanted to do upon entering UTokyo: “English conversation; learn to type; calligraphy; study Chinese, philosophy, debating, join a reading group and boat club, and treat mother to a nice dinner …” She also listed what she did not want to do, namely “to adopt a Todai student identity”. It is normal, I should think, that the number of things one wants to do, increases tremendously as soon as one is freed from the pressures of cramming for the entrance exams. However, the very first item Kanba lists as ‘don’t want to’ is “assume the identity of a Todai student.” That was probably also my strong feeling, when I entered UTokyo in the 1970s and perhaps, there are many Todai students today who share that feeling. Rejecting the identity of ‘Todai student’ does not mean, of course, to dislike the University of Tokyo. Rather, it expresses the will to make something more of oneself and not to content oneself simply with the reputation of being a ‘Todai student.’ This desire to become something more might have expressed itself in fighting ‘the system’ or in striving to excel in fields outside of classes such as sports, music or theatre. Nowadays, however, precisely because academic authority has been shaken severely, the best way for a UTokyo student to surpass the ‘Todai student’ reputation is, paradoxically, by pursuing academic study and research to break through frames of established thinking, to act globally and thereby, to gain the ‘freedom’ of speaking out. So the Global Leadership Education program of the University of Tokyo is not designed merely to improve students’ practical English skills. We have created a program that enables UTokyo students to apply the leverage of the ‘global,’ in order to crack open the shell of ‘Todai student’ and rise to surpass that identity. We thus hope that all of you, UTokyo students, who do not content yourselves with having emerged as ‘winners’ from the Todai entrance exam competition, will participate in our GEfIL program.
Professor Shunya YOSHIMI, GLP Vice Director (in charge of Public Affairs)