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Midway Report: YICChecking out some hot issues at the Yonsei International Campus
Ha He-bin  |  hebinnara@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2014.05.05  23:40:59
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ARE YOU currently residing in the Yonsei International Campus (YIC) located in Songdo? Yonsei University built YIC to promote the globalization of Yonsei. Starting from the spring semester of 2014, most freshmen are required to stay at YIC for at least a year. Before this requirement took effect, there were severe conflicts between Yonsei students and the university administration. A majority of freshmen surveyed recently by the The Yonsei Annals seem to be enjoying their stay in YIC. Still, continuing problems at YIC need to be discussed openly and resolved. Since a lot of Yonseians are living in YIC, these problems surely need to be discussed, and ultimately fixed. Now that half the spring semester of 2014 has passed, let’s check out some of the most-noticed problems at YIC.

   

Are you satisfied with YIC?  

   Since its opening in 2011, YIC has received a lot of attention because of its adoption of the Residential College (RC) program, which is a common aspect at many foreign countries. Through the RC programs, all students based at YIC live in the school dormitories, residing full-time on campus while they study. By spending lots of time with each other, students are expected to promote a “communal spirit” between them. YIC programming emphasizes the 5Cs: Communication, Creativity, Convergence, Cultural Diversity, Christian Leadership. To promote the 5Cs, YIC has created the RC programs and the “Holistic Education” classes.

   In 2013, most freshmen were required to spend at least one semester at YIC. Starting from 2014, YIC residency for at least one year is mandatory for all freshmen, except students from the College of Music and the Dept. of Sports & Leisure Studies. When the administration announced that all freshmen must reside in YIC, the university faced severe opposition from the student body for several reasons. Some pointed out that students might have difficulties in building relationships with sun-baes, or upperclassmen, and hu-baes, or lowerclassmen. Also, it would be hard for the students to actively participate in club activities since Songdo is so far away from Shinchon.

   Despite these conflicts, a survey conducted April 1 – April 8 by The Annals, revealed that about 62% of the respondents who have previously or are currently residing in YIC are either very satisfied or satisfied with YIC. There are several reasons why a majority of Yonseians are satisfied with YIC. The most prominent reason is that YIC offers a good chance to strengthen the bond among student colleagues (64.6%). The RC program in YIC allows students to spend a lot of time with each other, strengthening their friendships. With closer relationships than before, students may experience less difficulty adapting to university. Regarding this, Choi Ye-seul (Soph., Dept. of Education) said that, “When I was at YIC, I could build close relationships with my friends without relying on alcohol. Also, I could not only study more effectively with my friends, but also spend leisure time together, such as taking a stroll around YIC.”

   Another reason is that most of the buildings in YIC are constructed in the newest styles and students can use high-tech facilities (16.6%). Most of the buildings and facilities in YIC are built after 2012, meaning that they are much cleaner when compared to the buildings in the Shinchon campus. Also, YIC can raise the status of Yonsei University as a leading global university just through its existence. In YIC, many courses are taught in English and Yonseians are given the opportunity to befriend people from various backgrounds, including foreign students. Thus, compared to the Shinchon campus, a more English-friendly environment is offered so that the freshmen can improve their language skills. In addition to studying English, some of the students are satisfied with YIC because it offers a good overall environment to study. Unlike the Shinchon area which is surrounded by numerous restaurants and pubs, YIC has relatively few sul-jips* near the campus. Students can focus on studying without being distracted by attending suljaree** in these sul-jips.

* sul-jip: A place where university students often gather and drink
**suljarees: student “drinking party”

The shuttle bus  

   To move between the Shinchon campus and YIC, students usually take public either transportation or the university shuttle bus. It takes more than 90 minutes from YIC to Shinchon when one takes public transportation, whether it is by subway or bus. The shuttle bus, on the other hand, runs straight from campus to campus, only taking about an hour to get from one campus to the other. Therefore, students can save a lot of time and money by taking the shuttle bus. During the peak time (6:00-21:00) when many students take the bus, the shuttle bus operates at 30-minute intervals. However, during the daytime, when not so many students take the bus, it is operated at one hour intervals. Therefore, there are about 19 to 20 buses moving back and forth every day. To take the bus, students should reserve the bus ticket beforehand through the Yonsei Portal. The tickets can be reserved two days before the shuttle bus ride. Even though the shuttle bus is much more convenient to Yonseians, there are still many shortcomings that need to be overcome.

   When asked how satisfied the students are with the shuttle bus system, about 65% of the respondents answered that they are not satisfied. The percentage of respondents who replied that they are satisfied was a mere 10%. The main reason why students are not satisfied was that the supply of seats available for the students is too small compared with the demand. Especially in the beginning of the semester, many freshmen are compelled to go to the Shinchon campus either to meet their sun-baes, or to attend various events. Because so many students commute between the two campuses, most shuttle buses during the peak time (6:00-23:00), become full within several minutes after the ticket reservations are made available. Accordingly, 81% of the respondents said it is urgent that the number of buses be increased. Kim Ha-un (Fresh, Dept. of Education) said “Since all the bus seats are full in a couple of minutes, students have to constantly concentrate on their smartphones at around 2 p.m. to reserve the tickets.”

   The M-Bus 6724, a public bus run by an outside transportation company, which operates between Songdo to Shinchon is the backup plan students turn to when they fail to make a reservation for a shuttle bus. In 2013, Yonsei University made an agreement with an outside transportation company that runs the shuttle bus service, instead of accepting the students’ requirement to increase the shuttle bus service. Students can reserve the seats for the M-Bus through a designated internet site that can be found at the ‘Notice’ section of the Yonsei University homepage. After the reservation is made, the students can receive the M-Bus boarding pass in the Student Union Building at Shinchon, and at the security office in Songdo Dormitory A. When they reserve the tickets through this homepage, the students can ride the M-Bus for free.

   Though many students utilize the M-bus as an alternative to the shuttle bus, it is far from a perfect solution to the transportation problem. First, the demand for proper transportation between Shinchon and Songdo is still not met. In the case of the M-Bus, it is not only the Yonseians who take it but also other people commuting between workplaces and their homes, and number of seats still remains insufficient. The lack of bus seating is even more serious when important school events take place, such as AKARAKA in Shinchon.

   Moreover, unlike the shuttle bus, even students with reserved tickets often have to ride the M-Bus while standing in the aisles on the bus. Since the seats for the M-Bus are easily filled with commuters and Yonseians, many students endure the 90-minute trip while standing, which is extremely dangerous. The bus travels on a highway at a fast speed for more than an hour. Much more needs to be done by the university administration to provide adequate transportation between the two campuses. According to Kim Nam-sik (Vice President, Solution), most of the students are complaining about the severe lack of seating especially between 4:00-18:00 for the bus from YIC to Shinchon, and 9:00-23:00 for the bus from Shinchon to YIC. “At the April 2 Student Joint Demonstration for Education, Solution has demanded an increase in the number of shuttle buses based on the report which shows the pattern of the students’ usage of the shuttle bus."

     
 

 

   
 

  

The RC Programs

    Unlike the students in Shinchon Campus, students in YIC additionally follow the Residential College (RC) curriculum, which aims for a well-rounded education. As part of the RC curriculum, students are required to take courses called Holistic Education. Holistic Education consists of three categories: Community Volunteer Service, Arts and Culture, and Physical Education. Community Volunteer Service aims to promote a communal spirit in Korean society. Students volunteer to help out those in need by teaching local children residing in Seoul, or handing out lunch boxes to the hungry around Seoul. Arts and Culture provides a good chance for the students to widen their artistic abilities as they paint, sculpt, or join an ensemble. Finally, Physical Education encourages students to maintain active and healthy lifestyles by engaging in one of the various sports activities provided. All freshmen in YIC are required to select at least two classes from two different categories of the three provided.

   In addition to the RC curriculum, YIC also offers various RC programs consisting of RC common programs and House programs. RC common programs offer a good chance for the students to join academic and/or extracurricular activities. Though they may seem similar to Holistic Education, RC common programs are different in that they are events that residents can freely join, not mandatory classes. RC common programs are categorized into three parts: Academic, Arts & Culture, and Sports. Academic parts offer many special lectures held by various guest speakers. Arts & Culture programs include various performances by world musicians or student groups. Students not only watch these performances but also participate in them. Lastly, Sports Academic programs include many events including RC Olympics and Songdo Marathon. Jang Soo-chul (Dean, RC Education Center) said, RC programs aim for the students spontaneous activities for the further development of the students. In next semester, we are planning to add some more academic programs.” 

   Another part of the RC Program that is pretty popular among the students is the House Program.All students based at Songdo live in one of 12 Houses.Each of the Houses has its own activities to enjoy, matching up with the theme of each House. For example, in Baekyang House, students can plan and participate in various musical and cultural performances. In Yun Dong-joo House, students can enjoy various literary activities such as reading masterpieces and debating about them. Allen and Aristotle House are the global houses where residents can enjoy multicultural activities such as a party that many of the participants are foreigners, promoting diversity in YIC. Through these RC programs, students can broaden their knowledge in various fields and develop their interests and aptitudes while meeting various people from other majors. Kim Yea-eun (Fresh, UIC, Underwood Div.) said, Through RC programs, I could meet many friends and bond with them. It also helped me adjust to campus life.All the RC programs are assisted by Residential Assistants (RA) who are upperclassmen hired by the university to help freshmen adapt to university life at YIC. In addition to monitoring RC programs, each RA looks after 19 to 25 students, providing basic counseling help resolve the various problems they may face in YIC.

   Even though these RC programs are definitely helpful for the students in YIC, there still seems to be several problems regarding the House programs and RC common programs. Only 37% of the respondents answered that they are satisfied or very satisfied when asked what they think about the RC programs in YIC. One of the reasons might be that students are not allowed to choose their own Houses. Students who entered Yonsei University after 2014 are randomly assigned to each House. However, all the 12 Houses have their own distinctive atmospheres. For example, Aristotle House tries to maintain an exciting atmosphere with a lot of parties, while Avison House maintains a relatively calm atmosphere. Therefore, some students might not be satisfied with his/her assigned House when the characteristic of the House is different from his or her personality. Ahn Hyun (Soph., Dept. of Nursing) said that “I am not that satisfied with the allocation of Houses because the students’ opinions were not reflected at all.”

   In addition, many students pointed out that students are not actively participating in the RC programs. According to a survey conducted by the Yonsei Chunchu in September, 2013, more than half of the respondents answered that they participated in 0 to 20% of the House programs. This is not different from the situation of RC common programs. Lee Jae-min (Soph., Dept. of Systems Biology), an RA at Songdo, said Many students seem to be facing difficulty in participating in RC common programs since most of the common programs takes place in the evening, when many students are participating in club activities. About 41% of the respondents to the Annals survey answered that more students should be motivated to participate in RC programs. As a solution, another sophomore who is working as an RA asserted that there should somehow system that requires students to participate in RC common programs. “For example, when there are only a few students in a lecture by a guest speaker, RAs are forced to fill in the seats. However, the RC common programs are not for RAs, but rather for the freshmen participating in the RC program.” Thus, instead of making it mandatory for the RAs to participate in the common program, it should be made compulsory for the residents to participate in the program, to some extent. To solve the problem of low participation, Solution, the 51th Students Union, came up with a House Calendar that gives YIC students useful information about House programs. The House Calendar will give information about programs run by other Houses and also promote students interests and participations in House programs by encouraging feedbacks among the participants. 

The ID card holder 

   Another controversial university policy at Songdo requires all YIC residents to wear an ID card holder at all times. All YIC students are given an ID card holder: a small transparent pocket in the form of a necklace in which students are expected to place their ID card. People are able to tell which House a resident belongs to because the color of the string for the ID card holder varies depending on each House. Ever since the fall semester of 2013, wearing this ID card holder has been mandatory at YIC for security reasons. Currently, students without an ID card holder are imposed penalty points when a Residential Hall Coordinator (RHC) or students who are hired by the school to monitor other students, catch sight of them. Any students that reach 20 penalty points are forced to leave the dormitory. Wearing the necklace would allow residents to tell apart outsiders from residential students, enabling them to protect the students. Wearing it would let people know about the students’ names, appearance and the name of the House since this ID card holder holds the students’ ID card. Therefore, when all students have to wear this ID card holder, it would be easier to sort out strangers among the students. An RHC who asked for anonymity said that wearing ID card holder is a protective measure for the students. “Wearing an ID card holder in YIC helps to maintain safety in YIC. First of all, people can distinguish strangers among the students. Also, when the students are in an emergency, the ID card holder can give important personal information about the students easily. ”Also, wearing ID card holder in YIC  can strengthen the bond between the students. Jang said, Wearing ID card holder is essential because it can not only be helpful maintain security but also give communal spirit among the students in YIC.

   Even though there are several advantages in wearing the ID card holder, many students are opposed to making it mandatory. More than half the respondents answered that they are not satisfied with being forced to wear the ID card holder, pointing out that it can invade the students’ freedom. In November 2013, a freshman posted a photo on Facebook of a dog wearing a leash, as a metaphor for students who have to wear ID card holders in YIC. About 170 students “liked” that photo, showing their support to the metaphor of protest. In addition, most of the students replied that they are irritated to possess their ID card holder all the time while they are in YIC (76.4%). Ahn said that “In the student dormitory, we have to wear the ID card holder even when we go out for a cup of water or when we go to the community room to rest with friends.” Many more residents expressed similar objections. Also, others have pointed out that even though it became mandatory to wear the ID card holders, it does not really contribute to maintaining safety in YIC. In fact, on October 2013, a stranger wandered around YIC pretending to be a researcher. Though wearing the ID card holder was mandatory at the time, this stranger was able to roam around the Songdo campus and try physical contact with a student, undetected by others. In short, the ID card holder does not seem to help maintain the safety in YIC completely. Wearing the ID card holder may have some advantages, but as the survey shows, there still seems to be a lot of problems that needs to be solved.

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   Yonsei International Campus, with its growing size, is becoming a huge part of the Yonsei University community. Many students, especially freshmen, seem to be enjoying the residential atmosphere and new facilities at YIC. However, still several major problems need to be improved to strengthen YIC as a global leading campus. Therefore, the university administration must actively communicate with the students to find out the problems and solve them.

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