Undergraduates are able to adjust the date and time that they go to school every day depending on their own time tables. In addition, the places where students live are various depending on their class schedules: some commute to school, some live in a boarding house, while some live in a school dormitory. Last February at SKKU, there was an issue relating to the dormitory which caused a lot of problems for students. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) now introduces the controversies around the SKKU dormitory and covers the stances of both the school and students.
Dormitory Management of SKKU
SKKU dormitories consist of the Myeongryun Haksa on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus and Bongryong Haksa on the Natural Sciences Campus. The former is comprised of ten dormitory buildings; however, undergraduates of the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus are able to live in seven dormitories since three dormitory buildings are for exchange students only. Meanwhile, Bongryong Haksa that consists of five dormitories only provides one for graduate students and the rest to ungraduates.
Controversies Surrounding the SKKU Dormitory
Admission Standards for Dormitories: 2017 Spring Semester Dormitory Issue
On February 10th, the 2017 SKKU spring semester dormitory admission began. Unusually, the so-called “grade cut” for boarding became higher than the previous year, making students look for rented rooms to live in for a semester. Different from the admissions so far, students also needed to compete to find a room near the campus. SKKU thought that this phenomenon was due to the preference of students who hope to live near to the campus, which makes the number of applicants of certain dorms increase.
Is there any alternative to select students who hope to live in SKKU dormitories? SKKU currently offers 70% of its dorm rooms to freshmen and the rest to other enrolled students. The school stated that distance cannot be the objective standard since it is hard to measure each students’ distance from school. Moreover, they said that even though the first admission was competitive, not all of the rooms were filled in the end. Therefore, SKKU is now accepting students with the good grades which is considered fair to students and is also giving the opportunity on a first come, first served basis in the third admission.
Accommodation Ratio for Dormitory Living
Every year, many students get into trouble because of the failure to get a room on a campus dorm. According to research conducted by the Korean Council for University Education, the accommodation ratio for a SKKU dormitory room is 22.7% which is a little higher than the average, and the competition rate is 1.5 to 1 on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus, and 1.2 to 1 on the Natural Sciences Campus respectively. There is always, however, a gap between the figures and what students feel. As a result, those numerical values can be a special favor for some, but a desperate competition for space to others.
SKKU keeps insisting that the school looks for a site to build more dorms but no site has been found as yet. Furthermore, if the school tries to build more dorms, the surrounding residents and renters would severely resist against the plan. Moreover, in many cases, some dorm buildings that are far from campus were not filled. If the dorms are not filled again after building more dorms to accommodate students, then the dorm fee will increase and make a vicious cycle by adding economic burden on students. Thus, SKKU now determines not to increase the accommodation ratio of the dormitory but to increase the living quality of students living in dorms.
Imbalance of Female and Male Students
Dormitories on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus offer 990 rooms for male students, and 1528 for female students. The number of female students per male student is about 1.26, and the number of dorm rooms for female students per that of male students is about 1.54. This figure significantly showed that dormitories on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus care more about the dormitory for female students. SKKU, however, revealed that the demand of female students for dorms was more than those of male students. For example, this semester, 70 female students were on the waiting list and no male students were on the waiting list, which means that the dorms that can accommodate male students were not filled. SKKU have considered changing some dorm rooms for male students to female students, but to put this plan into practice, there should be female students who want to live in male dorms that are distant from the campus. They added that dorms of both male and female students usually are not filled in second semesters.
Dormitories on the Natural Sciences Campus offer 2302 rooms for male students, and 852 for female students. The number of female students per male student is about 0.27, and the number of dorm accommodations for female students per that of male students is about 0.37. This figure shows the converse result that the dormitories of the Natural Sciences Campus consider male students more. SKKU, however, claimed that the vacancy of the dorm was rationally decided by considering the sex ratio of students, saying that 120 male students and 64 female students were on the waiting list this semester. In addition, they asserted that there were not many ways to improve this problem because the vacancy of each sex is fixed for each dorm building.
There have been disputes about dormitory fees in almost all universities, including SKKU. According to research by the Korean Council for University Education, the monthly average dorm fees of private universities in the capital area took the highest places in 2016 with a cost of 376,000. The dorm fees of private universities are found to be more expensive than those of national universities, and the dorm fees of universities in capital areas are found to be more expensive than those of universities in rural areas. This makes dorm fees on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus higher than dormitories on the Natural Sciences Campus. The former is from about 300,000 to 410,000 a month, and the latter differs from 130,000 to 380,000 depending on room capacity. This price is 12,500 a day which is higher compared to other universities. For example, dorm fees of Yonsei University in Seoul and Chungang University in Seoul are about 12,000 a day.
SKKU said that the dorm fees were decided by considering multiple factors such as boarding expenses of other universities, the market price of surrounding rental rooms, and the tendency of SKKU dorm fees in the past. It is not a decision made by oneself, but a decision of many people based on various raw data. Although there were many causes for the increasing dorm fees such as a rise in the minimum wages of security guards or cleaners, and utility bills, SKKU has not raised its dorm fees in the past three or four years.
As mentioned above, there are many drawbacks in the management of SKKU dormitories. Even if there are some dilemmas that cannot be easily solved, the school should listen closely to students’ voices and compensate the defects of the SKKU dormitories with student welfare, while students should also try to understand the situation of SKKU.
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