The construction of Global Hall, the new dormitory on Seoul Campus, is nearing completion. This raises the expectations of HUFSans as it can increase the number of dormitory accommodations on Seoul Campus. However, problems with the current dormitory operations still remain, and the debate over the issue and complaints from students are being repeated.
A dormitory is a shelter, one of the three basic necessities of life. Thus, the residence hall’s impact on students’ welfare and convenience is significant. In response, The Argus looked deep into the loopholes in the GlobeeDorm’s system to find solutions to improve them.
Inequality of GlobeeDorm’s allocation
The distribution of dormitory rooms that does not take into account the gender ratio is causing gender inequality in the selection process of HUFSans who live in the GlobeeDorm. Considering the gender ratio of HUFS freshmen for three years (2015-2017), the average value was 1:1.44 (Male : Female). However, the GlobeeDorm can accommodate 303 male and 359 female students, which shows a ratio of 1:1.18.
As a result, female students are at a disadvantage in entering the dormitory due to the unfair room distribution that does not match the student’s sex ratio. In particular, gender inequality is a more serious situation in that male students have to take at least two years off due to their military duties. That means that the real competition rate for male students to join the dormitory is even lower.
In addition, female students’ rooms are located on the eighth to twelfth floors, which are less accessible than male students’ rooms located on the fifth to seventh floors. Furthermore, during rush hours, the elevators are crowded, which means that the actual time required is extended. The problem is getting worse as there are no other ways than elevators, as staircases are blocked to prevent access between the opposite sex.
Unconvincing selection result of GlobeeDorm
Student’s misgivings about the outcome of selecting students who live in the dormitory have also been repeated. The GlobeeDorm accepts students based on their academic records (70 percent) and commuting distance (30 percent). However, there is constant doubt among students as to whether these are the true requisites for applicants.
“I have a friend whose entrance examination score and commuting distance are similar to mine. However, only my friend got into GlobeeDorm. I wonder what factors of mine were lacking,” a student of the Division of Chinese Foreign Affairs and Commerce who failed to qualify for the first semester of the 2018 said.
One of the voices from Everytime, a famous social media group, claimed, “I did not get into GlobeeDorm even though I got around 4.0 points out of 4.5 on my academic record. I can not even guess what the cut-off score is. It is too unclear.” Like this, there are many students who have mistrust of the GlobeeDorm’s selection results.
GlobeeDorm’s lack of capacity
Some people point out that the maximum capacity of GlobeeDorm is too small. According to the Korean Council for University Education’s data, HUFS can accommodate 15.7 percent of undergraduates in dormitory accommodations. This figure is lower than the average rate of universities located in Seoul, 16.1 percent. Also, Kyunghee University, located in Dongdaemun Ward, the same area as HUFS, recorded 19.3 percent.
However, this current occupancy rate is the sum of the Seoul Campus and the Global Campus. The actual dormitory accommodation is even lower when we only look at the Seoul Campus. Compared to 656 undergraduates who can live in the GlobeeDorm in the second semester of 2018, the number of students on Seoul Campus is estimated at 7,039. Therefore, the dormitory accommodation rate of Seoul Campus will remain around 9.31 percent.
The expiration of the contract with “Dasung Easevill,” an off-campus dormitory, is worsening the problem. Although HUFSans can personally make an agreement with Dasung Easevill based on a first-come-first-served basis, it is quite different from when Dasung Easevill was used as a school dormitory. It has different selection criteria to those of HUFS and sets higher room charges.
Administration of dormitory without change
The fundamental cause of the problem is that the GlobeeDorm has not reflected the changes of HUFS since the establishment. As for the gender ratio of freshmen at HUFS over the past three years, the proportion of female students is increasing. However, this trend was not reflected in the GlobeeDorm’s selection process. As a result, the problem is getting worse.
According to the Management Team of GlobeeDorm, “We allocated more rooms for female students because HUFS is a university that many female students prefer. There are practical challenges in increasing the number of female students’ rooms.” However, it is regrettable that no other action has been taken due to simple administrative difficulties.
In case of the rooms for female students on the upper floors, the purpose and effectiveness of this allocation are hard to understand. The Management Team of GlobeeDorm said, “If the male students’ rooms were located on the upper floors, there could be a possibility of them accessing the female students’ rooms by passing the floors where they are located.”
However, there is also a possibility that female students can break into the male students’ rooms. Therefore, the idea of the school that placed female students’ rooms on upper floors to protect them and prevent the possibility of misunderstanding from outside is somewhat incomprehensible.
Restriction on information of selection criteria and results
HUFSans lack access to information about the selection and results. The dormitory selection process is conducted in such a way that the school chooses students to live in GlobeeDorm based on criteria, and students can only check whether they were admitted or not. Under this system, students cannot have as much information as the school has.
For the standards, the ambiguity of the commuting distance score is the biggest problem. Unlike academic credits with clear figures, distance points are vague since their manner of reflection is not clearly revealed. The average score and cut-off points of those who pass the dormitory selection criteria are also not disclosed, which leaves rejected students wondering why they were not selected.
In response, The Argus requested an interview with the Management Team of GlobeeDorm and investigated the standards of the distance scoring criteria. According to the Management Team of GlobeeDorm, non-capital areas are given 30 points. Non-capital areas that cannot be reached by subway and capital areas that can be reached by subway are given 20 points. Lastly, capital areas including Seoul are given 15 points. The reason for nondisclosure of the criteria is that schools do not feel the need for disclosure, and there is no formal discussion regarding distance scores among students.
Impediment due to a government policy
Constructing a new dormitory is a very difficult project to execute under the current law. Dormitories are classified as urban planning facilities in accordance with Article 15 of the Act on Comprehensive Plans for Construction in The National Territory. When a university wants to build urban planning facilities, it must pass the review by the city planning committee, including city officials, public officials and outside experts. Also, the land should be approved for construction by the government.
However, this is possible only after the local community is persuaded. For example, Hanyang University could only construct a new dormitory after reducing the proposed size and capacity because of opposition from local residents for two years. Kyunghee University also underwent the similar trial and error. As a result, the government, which has to consider the whole local community, has found it difficult to show active support for the new dormitory, and students are the ones inconvenienced.
Moreover, there are no additional regulations on the size and accommodation percentage of dormitories. Prior to 1996, the Decree on Standards for the Establishment of Universities and Colleges stipulated that a university’s or college’s dormitory accommodation rate should be 15 percent or more of the student body. However, relevant clauses were deleted in the process of being replaced by other regulations in 1996. This eliminated the duty for universities to maintain a certain accommodation rate.
Redistribution of rooms in GlobeeDorm
It is imperative that HUFS recognizes the problem of the Seoul Campus and redistributes the rooms to fit to current students. In other words, practical actions should be taken, such as turning some of the male students’ rooms into female students’ rooms.
When looking at the gender ratio of students entering Busan University of Foreign Studies, another university which specializes in foreign language education, for three years (2015-2017) the average value was 1:1.14 (Male : Female). The distribution of dormitory rooms shows a ration of 1:1.89, which gives thoughtful consideration to female students.
As for the female students’ rooms located in the upper floors, Kyunghee University can be an example. In Kyunghee University’s Happy Dormitory A, each floor has male and female students’ rooms. This is a good alternative in that access to the dormitory can be maintained at similar levels for both genders. Most of all, the Management Team of GlobeeDorm should try to solve the problem focusing on making sure that students’ demands and needs are well reflected.
Selection by open and clear process
The ambiguous standards should be supplemented with reasonable and understandable descriptions in detail. The selection process should be also transparently revealed so that students can accept the results. For example, the criteria of distance points have not been disclosed clearly. They must be opened to the students. Also, a more specific evaluation method should be done based on the actual distance from campus for each city or province.
The Gwanak Residence Halls at Seoul National University require a GPA above 2.7 from undergraduates. In addition, they prohibit students whose parents are living in Seoul or its suburbs. This is a proper policy for students who live in rural areas and need to live in a dormitory.
The dormitory selection result notification system, which cannot confirm anything other than whether he or she passed or failed, should also be changed. Disclosing the average scores and cut-off points will lend results more credence without exposing other people’s personal information. Moreover, students can be prepared in advance for the case of not being accepted. Therefore, it is a realistic and practical alternative that can contribute to the welfare of students and increase their convenience.
Management of off-campus dormitory and cooperation with society
Considering the size of GlobeeDorm, it is difficult to recruit additional students. If it is hard to increase the dormitory accommodation percentage and not easy to build a new one, managing an off-campus dormitory using nearby facilities is the most reasonable alternative. Dasung Easevill would be able to serve as a school dormitory through contract renewal. Also, further contracts with other buildings should be made to increase the accommodation percentage.
It is necessary to cooperate with the local community to lay the foundation for a new dormitory in advance. Global Hall can be a good example, which is planned to be completed. It is already signed with Dongdaemun Ward for a language mentoring program. This is an excellent alternative to assuage the community’s opposition as it can improve the benefits of residents. If such a background is established, it will be possible to carry out the project without any major conflict when new dormitories are available.
A solution of Sungkyunkwan University’s natural science campus is also brilliant. The students that live in the dormitory are encouraged to officially change their addresses. Therefore, students become the local voters and form a social platform to incorporate their demands into government policy. This is a brilliant solution, not only because the welfare of students’ rights living in dormitories is guaranteed, but also because students can make suggestions on a level playing field with local residents.
In order to strengthen the competitiveness of a university, it is necessary to provide life-related support, such as for housing problems. As can be seen through “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” once physiological and safety needs are satisfied, people can move on to the sense of belonging. If the dormitory accommodation problem is resolved, HUFSans will be able to feel secure at HUFS. Also, they can increase their sense of belonging and self-esteem as a HUFSan. The Argus hopes that the problems related to the GlobeeDorm will be improved as soon as possible, allowing HUFS to become a university where HUFSans are satisfied and proud of their university.
By Na Geum-chae
Staff Reporter of Campus Section