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Tuesday,October 15,2019
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The Lack of School's Interest, the Struggles of Student ClubsLimited support from the school are hindering the student's idea of joining a school club

   
 
  ▲ The Student Hall of the Dongguk University  
 
Society clubs, more widely known as ‘Dongari’ in universities, are groups of students who gather to enjoy school life and to share their common thoughts. However, lack of space for students to meet, as well as limited support from the school, are hindering the students’ idea of joining a school club. Because of this, several of the clubs that have been promoted as a part of the school’s club union have been unable to maintain their status and be active in campus life. Given this situation, the Post will look over the current status of the clubs in Dongguk University by listening to what the club members, the club union and the university administration have got to say from their perspectives. In addition, the Post will examine what other universities are currently doing to provide possible methods of how the Dongguk University needs to improve.

There are many activity clubs that the Dongguk students can join or participate in. Currently in 2012, there are around 65 clubs that are registered as part of the club union in Dongguk University. A wide variety of clubs exist, each specialized in different fields of activity, and have up to 28 participating members. There are performing clubs like the hip-hop team ‘AJAX’, the social volunteer club E.L.F, the economy club RICH and many more. There are over 2000 students in total involved with clubs, and there are many activities these clubs perform. These students open up galleries and concerts for students to enjoy at school festivals. Band clubs such as ‘Cumulus’, ‘Fearless Dawn’ and ‘AJAX’ play at the freshmen orientation and open up concerts once a semester for the DU students to enjoy. Art related clubs such as ‘DGRM’ and ‘Grigo…Grim’ open up galleries to exhibit their photos and paintings at the hall located in the Central Library.

Even with such active performances and awards received, there are a number of issues that are being hidden underneath the surface. The Post met with 11 leaders of the school clubs, the president of the club union and the representative of the Student Service Team. Through the interviews, The Post was able to listen to the problems of the school and the current problems the clubs were facing. From the interviews with the leaders of the school clubs, 50% of the leaders claimed funding as the top issue followed by 25% stating the issue of rooms for the clubs, the lack of opportunities and methods to promote student groups on campus each.

   
 
  ▲ This is the result of the sruvey on the student club council members of ten, about the most serious issues of school clubs. 50% mentioned the lack of club funding from the school, 25% the insufficient space of the club room, and the last 25% said the lack of promotion of the student clubs.  
 
The funding system in Dongguk University was picked as the biggest issue the students were concerned about. Currently, the school provides a certain amount of money to the club union, where the executive members of the club union divide up the money and distribute among the clubs after evaluating each club’s accomplishments, external and internal awards and participation records in club union activities. According to Kwon Soon-won, club union president, the amount of funding was reduced by ten million won when compared to last year’s funding amount. Therefore a total sum of 20 million won was funded for this year, which led the amount distributed to each club to also decrease from 300 thousand won to 200 thousand won.

The school on the other hand, claimed that the reduced amount of the funding has not had much effect on the activities of the clubs. According to Tak Sang-min, an employee of the Student Service Center, their reason was that the club union had 5 million won left from the previous year thus the real budget cut is only 5 million won, not 10 million won. In addition to this, they replied that only incidental expenses were cut from the funding, not the budget used to support students. After inquiring about the club union’s opinion of the school’s point of view, the president of the club union claimed that there was no possible way such large sum of money would have been used on incidental expenses only.

All points aside, the financial support from the school to the clubs has not been good enough from the start. The band club ‘Cumulus’ has been performing well by participating in external contests and winning many awards and trophies. Nevertheless, the amount of support the club has received has been constantly dropping. The reduced budget (200 thousand won) is not even close to cover the performing fees which easily cost over 1 to 2 million won. The advertisement club ‘AD RUSH’ has difficulty in purchasing items to use for their activity only with the distributed money. They are able to maintain their status through the financial support from seniors or graduates of the club. Another victim of the lack of funding is the English debating club ‘Time’ where they are paid only 120 thousand won. Through meeting with members of different clubs, the effects of declining support from the school were more visible than the past.

To compare the situation at Dongguk University, the Post made contact with other universities. First up is Korea University where the school provides annually 360 thousand won to each of the school clubs. In addition to this, when there is a project that enhances club’s expertise, the school provides an additional 500 thousand won to support the project. Hanyang University has even increased the financial support to the students in 2010 from 220 thousand won to 260 thousand won. The best example of school support is at Kyunghee University, where the clubs are evaluated through their performances. The club receives around 800 thousand won to 1.2 million won annually, which is the highest support out of the three universities. Compared to different university’s active support in motivating club’s activity, there is a need for the Dongguk University to raise their commitment to the school clubs.

   
 
  ▲ The volunteer club "Haram" have to rent a classroom everyday due to lack of space  
 
The next major point was the insufficient space for each of the clubs. According to the school, rooms are assigned to each of the club accordingly to their performance. The problem here is that newly created clubs or those that have been established from small groups to become a part of the club union have no rooms to reside. An example would be the club ‘Hola’, a festival planning club where they place their creative ideas into action to allow more entertainment to students. As they were newly created, they did not have their own room, thus faced trouble in progressing with their planning meetings and activities. Although they have been supported by nearby friends and seniors, the club still has no private space. One other club illustrating the lack of school interest is the Korean teaching club, ‘Haram.’ ‘Haram’ is currently assigned to a room that is in such a poor condition, that members of the club are even unable to enter it. Due to the lack of space, the 53 members of the clubs are unable to gather to have a meeting, nor leave their books indoors.

In response to a question regarding the lack of space, the club union replied that the Student Hall was already deteriorated therefore; it was impossible to improve the condition of few club rooms. Moreover, the president has claimed that in order to renovate the entire building, there needs to be enough storage spaces to keep everything inside, which is nearly impossible in reality. During the talk, the need for a solution to improve the Student Hall was mentioned.

   
 
  ▲ The student club room of "Haram" (Left photo) is not big enough to withhold all the club members and the foreign students who participate for their class. In contrast, Korea University's student club rooms (Right photo) are far bigger and the furniture is well equipped for the students who participate in the club activity.  
 
The school on the other hand claimed otherwise, saying that the university has been repairing minor damages and doing regular maintenance. Apart from this, other issues have been classified as complaints and few of them were restored through wood crafting. However, the employee stated that in case of a renovation; over ten million won would be needed, which is well over the financial limits. There is still a possibility, however, of the Student Hall being renovated, and the remodeling would take place when the school evaluates and prioritizes programs that needs support. In the meantime, Dongguk University still has much to realize as other universities are pushing forward in creating a suitable environment to the students. Korea University provided spacious rooms to each of the clubs and even arranged basic materials needed for the students to enjoy their activities.

All in all, when taking into account the efforts the other universities make for their students, Dongguk University has much to improve on as there are still complaints regarding the size of the club rooms and the unpleasant conditions. There is a definite need for the school to show more interest in the students, and show more recognition of the activities of each club in promoting Dongguk University.

Advertising clubs, students get information from Dongguk’s Students community site, Dyeon. In Dyeon all of the clubs upload their advertisements including what they do, how they do their activities, and what are the requirements for the club members. Also, students get information from the club posters inside campus, or they visit the club rooms in the student hall. In addition, there are club exhibitions on each semester for two night and three days each, in Paljungdo. However, there are some difficulties for the clubs in advertising their information for two main reasons, insufficient time for letting the students get the information and lack of means for advertising the clubs.

First of all, our school clubs face difficulties because of the comparatively short time for promotion compared to other universities. Even though the time for advertisement is two nights and three days, it does not mean that all of the clubs can take part for the whole period of time.

During the promotion period, because of lack of space in Paljungdo, clubs are forced to take turns using the space. Thus each club only has one night and two days for giving students information.

On the other hand, in case of Korea University, their clubs advertising period is a week in each semester, which is approximately two to three times longer than Dongguk’s. Also, in Hanyang University’s case, their clubs have five days in each semester, which is far longer than our university. Thus the students of other universities have plenty of time to get information of the clubs compare to the students in Dongguk University.

Next problem is the lack of means to advertising the clubs. The ways of advertisement is very limited. The members of clubs pitch tents and give out the pamphlets to the students who pass by paljungdo. Also in case of performance clubs, they do small scale performance to show their activities in their clubs. On May, there is a club photo exhibition in the main library for a week, which only photograph and painting clubs take part in.

On the other hand, in case of other universities, they have a variety of means for advertising their clubs. In Kyunghee University, they had ‘walking campus competition,’ which was heldthe club union of Kyunghee. The competition was opened to all of the students who were willing to take part in. During the competition, students took a complete tour of the campus to raise the love and interest of the students on their campus. Also, they had street culture festival to show the students what club members achieve. Not only dance clubs but also band clubs and other students took part in the festival and enjoy themselves to their hearts’ contents. During the midterm period, the club union gave out late-night snacks to the students to advertise the clubs. On November, they held club rooms opening day for the students to get more information on each clubs. Also, in case of Korea University, the school let the club members to put their posters not only inside the school campus but also outside, on streets near school, to let them advertise for their clubs more widely.

Overall, unlike the insufficient time for advertising the clubs in our school, other universities allow a far longer time for club advertising. Also, unlike our university’s clubs which lack the means to promote themselves, other universities like Kyunghee and Korea University have various ways for clubs to advertise themselves to students.

In the interview with Kim Hyung-yong, the post asked about the role of clubs and what students could gain through joining campus clubs. Clubs are a community of students with same interests and ideas, which is led by the students themselves. Even though there is a variety of information that students could get from the classes, there are more things students could gain from the activities with others outside the classes. For instance, in case of acting clubs, students have to get along with others because they cannot do the acting alone. The most valuable thing that students could gain though club activities comes from doing something together with others , which is achievable through club activities. Thus clubs are needed for cultivating community spirit and group consciousness of students. Even though our school is supporting the student clubs, they need more support due to the lack of support from the school compared to other universities. Also, along with support from the university, the students have to pay more attention to the clubs in their activities and festivals that the members of the clubs hold, and try to take part in them. Doing the activities within a club with other students with different personal backgrounds, students could achieve more than they expect. Increased advertising and exposure to university clubs and their activities can motivate more students to join, and help them unlock their own potential.

Student clubs enrich our university experience, and thus deserve more attention and support from Dongguk University administration.

Lim Su-mi, Lee Dong-jun  chloe90@dongguk.edu, jack222@dongguk.edu

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