WHAT IS your image about a school dormitory? Many students envisage the
romantic lives with their buddy in public facilities. Maybe most Yonseians look
forward to their lives in a school dormitory, the Muak Dormitory, at least once.
In spring semester in 2004, the competition rate for entering the Muak Dormitory
was 2:1 for male, and 3.5:1 for female students.
However, living in the Muak
Dormitory does not seem to be as wonderful as students think. Many boarders are
expressing their complaints on the homepage (
These complaints show the faults of either the authorities or students, or both.
As the year 2004 ends, analyzing the actual conditions of the Muak Dormitory and
finding a solution to several problems is necessary for a better life of
boarders in the school dormitory.
General introduction to the Muak Dormitory
The dormitory of Yonsei Univ., the Muak Dormitory, consists of four units,
eight buildings, and a total of 9,765 pyeong(a unit of area). The first building
was constructed in October, 1989, and the second was built on Aug. 18, 1993,
including a restaurant used by every dormitory student. About 996 undergraduate
students who live in any districts except Seoul and general graduate students,
live in the first and second dormitory. The third was constructed in August,
1998, sponsored by a donation fund from the Alumni of Col. of Medicine,
Dentistry, and Nursing. About 568 students from the Col. of Medicine, Dentistry
and Nursing live in the third dormitory. The fourth was constructed recently, in
May, 1998, and about 276 students who are preparing for the state examinations
live in building A of the fourth and foreign teachers are in B of it.
Inside the Muak Dormitory, there are several facilities for promoting
boarder's welfare: a restaurant, a store, computer rooms, resting places,
laundries, and public shower rooms. Especially in the third and fourth, there
are the exclusive reading rooms and special lecture rooms to help student's
To enter the first and second
building, students can apply in early December, and newly accepted freshmen in
early February. Students who missed a chance to enter the first and second
building have another opportunity in summer, from late August to early
September, and anytime when rooms are empty, the dormitory authorities announce
the enrollment. The applicants of the first and second dormitory are chosen by
lottery at random. In contrast to them, the students who want to enter the third
and fourth are chosen by the authorities of each college department.
|▲ The Muak
Dormitory and facilities.|
The authorities explain that the facilities
are the best among private universities in Korea.
The problem of meals is very sensitive to any society, and boarders of the
Muak Dormitory are not an exception. In 2004, the dormitory authorities made
students buy more than 40 meal tickets per student as a duty. Since the system
did not exist before 2004, many boarders complained about this measure.
According to a survey about the Muak Dormitory, answered by 137 boarders from
Nov. 12 to 14, 41.6% of them responded they are most dissatisfied with the
quality of food. About the question, What is the most satisfactory factor in
life at the Muak Dormitory?, nobody answered the quality of food is the best.
"Compared to the fee, the quality of food is not satisfactory. Neither is the
menu diverse," says Choi Jong-hyeok (Fresh., Area of Liberal Arts).
About these problems of the dormitory restaurant, the dormitory authorities
say it is unavoidable to maintain the restaurant. After adapting the obligatory
meal ticket system, loss to the dormitory finance has been reduced by half.
Actually, the current system is not perfectly obligatory, according to Han
Tae-jun, Department Manager of Housing Office. "Korea Univ., for example, is
adapting the perfect obligatory meal ticket system. Students in the dormitory of
Korea Univ. have to buy 120 meal tickets in one semester," says Manager Han.
Regarding this system, boarders of the Anam Dormitory in Korea Univ. have
discussed the pros and cons. "Though understanding the dormitory authorities'
way of managing the restaurant, I think a guarantee of boarders' self-control is
needed," says Jun Jung-in (Soph., Dept. of Sociology, Korea Univ.).
If the Muak Dormitory authorities adapt this system such as that of Korea
Univ., the authorities can first secure the expenses of operating the
restaurant. If they sell more than 40 meal tickets per student, the condition of
food would be improved. However, reflecting on students' opinions to some
degree, they set the standard at 40 units. Another reason that the authorities
enforce meal ticket sells is that they cannot estimate the daily demand on the
dormitory restaurant without that system. "Before this year, it was hard to
decide how many meals we should prepare. After selling 40 meal tickets to
boarders, it was much easier than before and we could secure the budget well.
Yet it is still hard to predict the demand," says Manager Han.
In the summer of 2004, there was another issue regarding the Muak Dormitory:
extending one's stay in their room during the summer vacation period. This
summer, the authorities attached a condition for students who want to remain
behind in the dormitory for the summer session in Shinchon campus. Many students
resisted this measure at that time. When The Yonsei Annals asked 137 boarders
What do you think about the remaining system in summer vacation?, 38.7% of them
complained about that, and only 16.8% said they understood the school. "Living
in other districts during a vacation is inconvenient, because I have lots of
things to do in campus during that period. Not only learning, but also other
activities are important to students. I think the present system to choose who
can remain during summer vacation is not appropriate," says Hong Yong-cheol
(Fresh., Area of Liberal Arts). On this past issue, the authorities say it was a
reasonable method to satisfy both boarders and the school authorities. "In the
case of most foreigh universities, they send students out in vacation. Yet
considering students' difficulties when they have to live in other places for
such a short time, we allow 70% of the boarders to remain in vacation," says
Manager Han. Actually allowing 70% of the boarders to remain have been the
custom during the past years. Before this year, the authorities received
applications in the order of arrival. "It might be that students did not like
the new way of choosing who remained. However, learning should be considered as
the priority. Otherwise, there is no clear standard to choose who remains," says
Manager Han. Yet students still point out the authorities' excuse. "Although the
authorities make only 30% of the boarders leave during summer vacation with the
excuse of some events, I think the authorities should pay more attention to
original boarders. Especially in summer, students want to stay in the Muak
Dormitory as opposed to in winter. I think ignoring students' situation just for
the school authorities is unfair," says Hong.
|▲ The campaign
poster of the candidate of the Committee of Self-government at the Muak
After clearing 30% of rooms out in the summer vacation, other parties stayed
in those places, who participated or visited the events concerning Yonsei Univ.
While they were staying in the dormitory, the original boarders complained about
the noise and disturbance. When asked What do you think about the noise and
disturbance caused by foreign students during last summer vacation?, 43.8% of
the boarders responded it that they were dissatisfied, and 16.8% said they
understood. Lee Jae-ha (Jr., Dept. of Theology), who has been the dormitory for
about three years experienced the situation every year. "First when I was a
freshman, I expected to be with foreign students to learn English. Yet they act
as they are in their own room, making excessive noise at midnight and drinking a
beer." On the other hand, Manager Han says, "When the school authorities have an
opportunity to hold an international event or chance to advertise Yonsei out to
the world, we have to offer rooms for participants when they need them. I know
the domestic students' complains, but I hope they try to understand other
cultures and people a little bit. We are trying to shape a policy considering
students' demand as best as we can." Yet students do not agree with the
authorities' thought. "There are problems which we can bear and those we cannot.
Their behavior is an unrighteous act. The authorities have to regulate foreign
students powerfully," says Lee.
Then, are boarders'
dissatisfaction and complaints dealt with properly at present? When asked Do you
think your complaints are dealt with properly by the dormitory authorities?,
only 17.5% of the boarders responded positively. Besides, the Committee of
Self-government at the Muak Dormitory does not play a role is helping boarders
and improving the facility. Although the campaign for the chairman began from
November, few students take attention to them and it shows students'
dissatisfaction to the Committee.
Opinion of the
authorities and students about each other
|▲ The meal ticket
of the Muak Dormitory restaurant|
One of the biggest students' dissatisfaction concerns the Internet. Students
say the network in the dormitory buildings is so unstable, worse than any other
buildings in campus. As a countermeasure of this problem, the Office of
Information Systems operated "Giga-bit Network," the construction works to
improve the network system in Shinchon campus. As a result, the inner network
system has become more stable at the dormitory as well. Yet recently, students
have been expressing their grievances about a computer virus. Besides, sometimes
the Internet still makes problems and even stops abruptly.
However, a staff member of the Dept. of Network Management of Office of
Information Systems says the main problem is students' carelessness. "In a large
aggregate such as the dormitory, since one virus in a personal computer
potentially influences the whole, individual precaution and care is very
important. When we chase some IP (Internet Protocol), we can find a virus and
vicious code spread all over the campus through them." Although the Office of
Information Systems offers a service to download a virus vaccine program, few
students know this. Even when the emergency situation happens, the Office of
Information Systems sends a message to the dormitory authorities to prepare for
the expected bug. "Constructing the network device is limited. If we can reduce
the working hours and money involved in watching the virus in each personal
computer, there will be more room to establish the device." The dormitory
office, also warns there is a possibility to break users' networking which
spreads viruses. "A specified minority makes the Internet environment of the
dormitory worse. If they do not take care of their computers, we will have to
restrict their connection to the Internet someday," says Manager Han.
Manager Han, who has been working in the Muak Dormitory for about four years,
is feeling the lack of student's community spirit. "It seems that students in
these days are so unsociable. I hope they think of the dormitory life as a
chance to live together." Not only is the relationship between the authorities
and students, but also that between each student is important. When the boarders
have more community spirit than now, life will be improved and it will be a
chance to make the dormitory more developed.
Students also want an active
dormitory. "It seems the Committee of Self-government at the Muak Dormitory has
done little. To make an energetic community, their activity should be
strengthened," says Choi Jong-hyuk.
The Muak Dormitory is a small
Yonsei community in Shinchon campus. It seems that the relationship between the
authorities and students is not so bad. "The dormitory authorities try to
improve students' living, and it seems the food in the restaurant has become
better than in the spring semester of this year. They are trying to do their
best in their own way, I think," says Hong Yong-cheol. Most boarders who have
lived in the Muak Dormitory more than three semesters say many matters changed
in 2004; more than before. Making a comfortable dormitory is the work of not
only the authorities or boarders, but both. Improvements at the dormitory will
only move forward as a result of such a cooperative spirit.