A good example of the wind of change blowing through Dongguk University (DU) is the New Industry-Academic Cooperation Center with adjacent dormitories that is currently being built on the old tennis court. Another example is the underground parking lot under construction in front of Hyehwa Hall. When the work on these sites finishes, it is hoped that more students will come to live on campus in a much better environment. The new underground parking lot is expected to house up to 450 cars; an innovation that will mean that the area will soon be free of automobiles taking up too much space. In addition, The Information & Culture Center is being reconstructed to incorporate more faculty offices.
However, some students and professors seem to be dissatisfied with the way the above-mentioned work is developing. A common complaint among them is that the noise and vibration is not acceptable. The work near Hyehwa Hall, for instance, is causing excessive noise and vibration; this, it must be said, is largely due to excavation work - a fundamental part of underground parking construction. Nevertheless, the disruption is affecting studies. Moreover, the numerous heavy building materials are blocking the student thoroughfares. This is as much a safety issue as anything else. To avoid the problem, some students have had to take circuitous routes to their classrooms out of fear of things falling on their heads. As a direct consequence, complaints are mounting up on the CS website.
Jo Young-rhyeong, majoring in Buddhist Art, said: "Recently, I attended a class where the construction noise from outside was so loud that it was difficult to concentrate on the lecture."
Another big problem is that the construction is inadequate in relation to the number of people expected to use the facility. In this way, the expansion of the Information & Culture Center mirrors a problem with last year's library extension. Not long ago, the main library was extended to create more reading rooms. The primary reason for the extension was that the old library did not have enough seating facilities; that, in fact, the facilities on campus were in inverse proportion to the number of students desiring to use them.
For example, last year, a student writing a fantasy novel entered the Korean literature department in DU through the "Self-recommendation" scheme. Kim Kyeong-suk, an Admission team staff member, explained the benefits of the system: "By using this system, we can analyze students with multi-dimensional perspectives. By interviewing them and examining their portfolios and references we can assess their qualities without having to rely on their grade scores only. In the existing system, we are not able to assess students other than through their numerical scores. In the new way, we can select students who show outstanding abilities in other areas. The students using this system will have strength different to other students, and will be chosen in accordance with these qualities. Happily, the students who have passed through this system in the last year are adapting well to campus life. In the view of the University, it is expected that they, together with the students who have used the more traditional process, shall improve the quality of experience at Dongguk."
According to a construction site spokesperson, the whole enterprise is bounded by legal limitations. For instance, noise-levels reaching over 75 decibels are prohibited. She stressed that: "The work could have been done cheaply. The school, however, is sensitive to noise-pollution; that is why expensive soundproof walls have been set up so as to reduce the problem."
In DU's defense, the university endeavors hard to solve the problems. For example, it keeps all building deliveries to the margins and employs security guard to stand-by while heavy machinery is in use.
The spokesperson added: "It is unfortunate that some class work is being interrupted. But I hope people understand that the noise is a temporary disruption. I hope that they also understand that noise disruption is part and parcel of construction work.
The Campus Master Plan shows that the university will undergo more construction work in the near future. The planned International Hall is one example of this. Once the project finishes, it is expected that the building will enhance the facilities as well as the quality of general education at DU. But, if the hall disrupts campus life further, people may begin to wonder if modernization is more trouble than it's worth.
The building of new facilities on campus should proceed without too much inconvenience. Though the school has made an effort to cut down the noise and thereby reducing the number of complaints, there are still lingering doubts about its sincerity on this matter. It is imperative, then, that DU shows more consideration in regards to students' complaints and come up also with some clear solutions.
Bak Je-jun .
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