THE vacation period presents students with an opportunity to take supplementary courses; last year, 175 classes were offered during the summer break and 127 courses were held over the winter break at Yonsei University. Around 4,600 students signed up for one or more of the summer courses and 3,600 students joined the winter classes. These numbers reveal a high level of participation by both students and faculty in the supplementary semester program. That is why many students and professors expressed surprise when the school administration abruptly announced last semester through its official website that from 2013, the summer semester will be held at the Yonsei International Campus (YIC) in Songdo. Student’s Union and the school have been communicating about this issue for a long time and finally agreed on a compromise on March 14th. Below is the original position of each institution about the summer semester moving to Yonsei International Campus.
The administration’s position
The school’s decision to relocate the summer program to YIC is based on several valid reasons. Cho Young-sun (Academic Support Team, Academic Affairs Office) stated that as of this year, every freshman is required to spend a semester in the YIC residential college program, with this time period set to increase to two semesters from 2014. Accordingly, those facilities used by freshmen are gradually being moved to YIC, and therefore it makes sense to relocate vacation period classes to YIC as well. Another practical reason to offer this year’s summer semester at YIC is that courses offered during supplementary semesters draw mainly from the freshmen common curriculum.
The *Baekyang-ro* reconstruction project is another factor behind the decision to hold the summer semester at YIC. The reconstruction project, which aims to transform the main road through campus into a carless green space in order to create a better educational environment, is tentatively scheduled to break ground this coming June and is set to continue for a year and four months – something which will inevitably create much noise and dust. Seen in this light, YIC offers a better studying environment compared to the Sinchon campus. Lastly, it is expected that the relocation will help foster smoother interaction between the Sinchon campus and YIC. As it stands, many students and professors based on the Sinchon campus feel disconnected to YIC; aware of this fact, the school hopes to promote greater unity between the two campuses through its choice to host the summer semester at YIC.
For the benefit of students, the school is planning to permit students to rent rooms in the YIC dormitory when taking the summer supplementary semester. Along with providing the dormitory, the school is also going to operate more frequent shuttle bus service between the Sinchon and Songdo campuses based on the number of students staying at YIC. The school believes there will be no difficulties conducting courses at YIC because the campus is already equipped with various facilities such as a study hall, library, and other spaces where students can study comfortably. In addition to these facilities, the school is in the process of moving its infrastructure for the freshmen foundation program to YIC.
For now, Yonsei University is only planning to hold the summer semester at YIC. The winter semester will continue to be held in Sinchon as no basic science courses (requiring the use of the laboratories that are being moved to Songdo) will be offered during the winter break.
The voice of the student union
During the fall semester of 2012, the school administration officially notified students about the intention to move the summer semester program to YIC. The 49th Student Union strongly rejected the school’s decision, denouncing it as one-sided and irrational. The newly elected 50th Student Union is seeking further discussion with the university administration in order to get students’ voices heard. However, to date there has been no significant change to the school’s position.
The Student Union stated that the forced relocation to YIC could violate students’ autonomy. Despite the school’s assertion that students can stay in the YIC dormitory if they experience problems commuting from home, living in the dormitory may not be convenient for all students. The Student Union argues that considering the fact that students are involved in many extracurricular activities outside of class, it is too demanding to force students to live in the Songdo dormitory or to commute for long hours to campus.
Although the Student Union has stated that it understands that it would be unrealistic and wasteful to have laboratory equipment installed in both the Sinchon and Songdo campuses, this reason alone does not justify hosting the whole summer semester at YIC. The Student Union believes that if the school truly wants to promote the one-campus system, the summer session should be opened at both campuses. That is, those courses for which the necessary equipment is at YIC should be held at YIC, while other classes can be hosted at the Sinchon campus. The Student Union hopes that the proportion of courses offered at Songdo and Sinchon can be adjusted through discussion with school.
The student body’s perspective
A sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that she took the winter supplementary semester in 2012 and she found that the program is a good choice for anyone hoping to fulfill requisite credits in advance of the regular semester. However, she stated that if the 2013 summer semester is moved to YIC, she would not bother taking any courses as she would have to sacrifice too much time and money. She explained that it takes about two hours to get to Songdo from her home. Usually the courses are taught in the morning, meaning that she would have to travel for four hours every day just to take a two-hour class. Also, to get to Songdo, she would have to ride an express bus which is more expensive than either the subway or regular buses. Kim Jin-young (Soph., UIC, Dept. of Econ.) also stated that commuting to YIC every morning would be a huge burden. Staying in the dormitory is not a viable alternative because it would be costly and restrictive. Considering that the Yonsei University tuition fee for the summer semester is already high, students have been questioning whether the school has thought enough about the decision to relocate from students’ perspectives.
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After Students’ Union’s hard effort, as of March 15th, the plan to move the summer semester to YIC has been withdrawn by the school. Most of the classes except physics, chemistry, and biology classes which need a laboratory would still be opened in Sinchon campus. The Students’ Union declared it will be working hard to make adjustments about those courses too. However, the school explained that it has invested huge sums of money to build a good infrastructure in YIC for a better place for students to study. The school, Students’ Union, and student body are each taking a strong stance on the relocation issue as vacation-time supplementary semesters play a big role in academic life at Yonsei University. It is time to try and resolve this issue together so that the summer program can progress smoothly.