The main entrance of Namsan Dormitory, where many students from provinces and international students live together.
/Photography by Woo Ji-yeon
Namsan Dormitory, located at the skirt of Namsan Mountain, first opened in February 2012 for enrolled students. It is a global space where not only undergraduate and graduate students but also international students from all over the world live, communicate and coexist. It is a space where more than 700 enrolled students live and stay. However, there have been many complaints of discomfort related to the dormitories in the school community. Furthermore, these voices of dissatisfaction have been growing since COVID-19.
The current situation of Namsan Dormitory has changed due to COVID-19
Namsan dormitory internal structure is equipped on the first floor with student restaurants, food courts, coffee shops, convenience stores, as well as a laundry room, study zones, fitness rooms, and administrative teams. Previously, the interior room has generally been used by two people. However, the board of directors and steering committee decided to experimentally implement the expansion of one room per person during the winter vacation, since they had to spend a lot of budget and effort in preparation for the spread of COVID-19. In addition, welfare and auxiliary facilities re-opened from November 8th of 2021 by following the guidelines for phased daily recovery, and limited operations were carried out. All facilities were inspected irregularly by the guidance of employees and life assistants during operating hours in the case of seminar rooms and study zones as a prerequisite for two weeks after vaccination. In the case of fitness rooms, classified as high-risk facilities, only those who received certification documents that prove two weeks have passed since vaccination could use it. Though, less than a week after this operation, people who violated the operation and reservation time or ignored the access list appeared. Eventually, as the COVID-19 situation worsened, the use of these places was banned.
There are several inconveniences that resident students feel
The first is the problem of facilities. Most of the auxiliary facilities were shut down due to COVID-19, and many students suffered from great inconvenience. Of course, in the case of fitness rooms and study zones, it caused great inconvenience to students who wanted to study intensively in quiet places and exercise regularly. However, the biggest issue was the suspension of food courts and student restaurants. Among the three essential elements of life, “food, clothing, and shelter,” college students who came to Seoul from the provinces are now in a position of having to solve food problems beyond the shelter. In the case of the Namsan dormitory, there is no separate space to cook, and there is only a microwave oven on the first floor and at the convenience store. Even if you eat school food, the menu does not change much. In the case of delivery food, if you eat it alone, due to the high delivery fee and the minimum order price, the food cost will inevitably be high. Students entered a dormitory since it costs relatively less, but this would be meaningless if you spend a lot on food. Accordingly, Namsan dormitory actively helped to use Sanglokwon, the school restaurant, except for weekends and holidays, with around 4,000 won per meal from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. on weekdays. For weekday lunch, Sanglokwon also operated a delivery service to help students.
On April 27th, 2021, to listen to the voices of students living in the dormitory, a student council dormitory TF team was established to conduct surveys, meetings, and regular discussions for a better dormitory environment. The TF team attempted to listen to the inconvenience of living in the dorm through a Naver survey from May 7th to 12th. The second-highest-ranking issue was related to COVID-19 disinfection. Disinfection is done every weekend, and at this time, employees enter the bathroom and spray disinfecting fluid for a few seconds. As a result, a situation has been created where students should never sleep or take a shower at this time. According to Kim, a student living in Namsan Dormitory, one day, she was sleeping comfortably in short clothes as it was a private space, however, male workers came in, so she was surprised and felt unpleasant. Since there were several of these cases, it has been changed to female employees which seems to show a desire to improve the situation.
Recently, The Dongguk Post interviewed Park, a student who has been living in the dormitory for more than two semesters. Despite so many problems, such as frequent outage problems or else, Park decided to stay more semesters in the dormitory since it was a great experience to meet many friends even who were not in the same department and to learn how to be considerate of her roommate. In addition, she thought it was good that she could get great help by exchanging products that were not used through the school community or sharing some items free of charge, and that it was better for her parents to feel more secure because the curfew was set.
On the other hand, according to a staff of the Namsan dormitory administration team, said that they were also trying to help students at their convenience. In the case of recent refund rules, compared to the previous one, it has been shown to change in a fairer direction. Additionally, in fact, in order to change from one room for two people to one room for one person, this is possible only when dormitory costs go up considering a budget. However, the administration team is currently in progress for the convenience of students. They strive if there is anything that can be improved as much as possible, but it is never easy to change the part of the facility as students want. In the case of the outage problem, the administration team continues asking about the cause of the outage to the company in charge. He added, “Many students who follow the school rules are forced to suffer from losses due to unfair measures that the administrative team has no choice but to take due to some peoples’ selfish minds.” Therefore, it seems necessary for everyone to consider and yield to each other. In particular, in the case of food waste, students were asked to throw it away properly. In the case of facilities that have been temporarily suspended, there are no plans yet.
A solution and improvement for a better life in the dormitory is needed
After creating a dormitory TF team to investigate dormitory inconveniences in the student council, it will be necessary to continue to make demands for realistic improvement through meetings with the administrative team and actively reflect students’ ideas. Finally, many students complain about the dormitory. Nevertheless, the facility may not be the only problem. Being a member of any organization or society and enjoying better rights, we first need to keep and implement our obligations accordingly.
For Namsan dormitory students who have to live there for more than a year, each minor problem may be significant and important to them. Since you do not live alone in the dormitory, there will be inconveniences that you will inevitably experience. No matter what residential space you use, there are always pros and cons. Therefore, it seems necessary to understand what kind of housing is suitable for us and face a new first-semester life.
Woo Ji-yeon email@example.com
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