Noonsong (translated as a snowflake) usually studied for her mid-term tests in the Main Library at Sookmyung Women’s University. One day, during the mid-term period, after finishing her part-time job and going to the library to study, wanted to sleep for a moment on the sofas in the lounge area because she felt so exhausted. However, she couldn’t find any empty sofa to sleep on, and as such, she went back to studying. After an hour, due to severe sleepiness, she returned to the sofas to check if any were empty. However, they were still full of, so Noonsong had no choice but to leave the library to return home and rest. On the way home, she felt unsatisfied with her studying and thought that the library should have more sofas for students to take short naps in order to revitalize themselves.
Is it enough?
Many Sookmyungians spend much of their time at school during the school semesters. Universities provide facilities such as lecture rooms, libraries, restaurants, and lounges. Although the school provides such facilities, a significant number of Sookmyungians are still suffering inconveniences due to a lack of certain facilities. Many students waste time queuing up for elevators, and others lose much time waiting to enter the lounge. Preparing for exams, students in need of a nap rarely find a place to rest. Myungshin Building, so-called “Myungshin Chicken Coop” among students, is often complained because it is overcrowded both before and after classes. While every student differs on their opinion regarding school facilities, a majority of students claim the scale of buildings is the most significant problem with the facilities. Others insist that aspects such as a lack of elevators to support the nearly 12,000 students are a huge issue. Still, others stress the need for additional places of rest like lounges.
Dissatisfaction with the school facilities has frequently been voiced by Sookmyungians. Compared to other campuses, Sookmyung Women’s University has a relatively small campus. According to a survey of Sookmyungians, 70.8% (92 of 130) of respondents said that compared to other universities, Sookmyung Women’s University does not have enough facilities for its students. This finding indicates that more than half of respondents believe Sookmyung needs more facilities for students. Among universities located in Seoul, Sookmyung Women’s University ranks fifth smallest school in physical scale. The campus is only 65,009m², but it has approximately 12,160 students. Chung-Ang University (Seoul) has an area of 182,730m² for its 25,058 student body, Dongguk University (Seoul) has 311,138m² area and 18,944 students, and Ewha Womans University has an area of 541,117m² area for its 18,098 students. In other words, Sookmyung has 5.35m² per student while Chung-Ang, Dongguk, and Ehwa Womans University have 7.3m², 16.42m², 29.9m² per student respectively. The land per student ratio shows that Sookmyung Women’s University is naturally more likely to encounter a scarcity of facilities compared to other universities due to its small land.
To investigate problems arising from a lack of facilities, SMT polled Sookmyungians’ opinions. Overall, satisfaction with the school facilities was good. About 62.3% (81 of 130) responded with ‘okay’ or ‘satisfied’. The greatest reason for satisfaction with school facilities was accessibility by 71.4% (85 of 119). Because of its small size, students are able to walk from building to building quickly, but 37.7% (49 of 130) of respondents were ‘slightly dissatisfied’ or ‘strongly dissatisfied’ with school facilities. The largest factor (88.9% or 112 of 126 respondents) for the dissatisfaction was found to be ‘lack of facilities in number’. Among faculty scarcities, the biggest problem was the lack of convenient facilities. Sookmyung is one of the only universities that does not offer students a place to exercise. Because the school has no sports field or gymnasium, Sookmyung cannot even hold its matriculation ceremony on the campus grounds. Also, the lack of resting lounges and napping rooms is a remarkable issue among students. 66.9% (87 of 130) of respondents said the school needed more of those convenient facilities.
Among the need for many different convenient facilities, first and foremost, respondents said there was a need to build more resting areas. 86 of 123 students wanted more spaces such as lounges and comfortable sofas. Next, students (77 of 123 respondents) wished the school would invest in more elevators for larger buildings such as Myungshin Building, Queen Sunheon Building, and Sookmyung Residence Hall. In addition, respondents said there is a need for a sports field and gymnasium. Other facilities that students said the school needed were more lounges, convenient stores, shower rooms, and nap rooms. SMT reporter asked one Sookmyungian if she had ever experienced any form of inconvenience because of a lack of provided facilities. “Right before the start of classes, students must wait in very long lines in front of elevators. Even if I don’t take the elevator, trying to walk up the staircase is also difficult because it is so crowded near the staircase. In Queen Sunheon building, students and professors use the elevators together. There are only 2 elevators for such a large building. It’s ineffective. Whenever I see the long lines, I feel the school should improve its facilities,” said Park Eunji, Department of Social Psychology ’19. As Park points out Sookmyungians often directly encounter problems as a result of a lack of facilities. Because insufficient facilities cause inconvenience, many Sookmyungians urgently seek better or improved school facilities, which will ease school life and make students happier on campus.
Stronger need for attention
Even though a number of Sookmyungians have voiced dissatisfaction with Sookmyung’s facilities, these problems are considered not to be discussed enough. According to the survey, 69.2% (90 of 130 respondents) said issues arising from a lack of facilities have yet to be discussed seriously. This finding is evidence that Sookmyungians realize the seriousness of a lack of and need for improvements to facilities on campus. There is also the cry for addressing the problems. In April 2019, 365, the Department of Physical Education’s Student Council at Sookmyung Women’s University, had a petition signing campaign to announce to the rest of campus the inconvenience of majoring in the field without appropriate facilities. The main statement was that “Sookmyungians in the Department of Physical Education need a new auditorium”. Even though they have strongly expressed demands for a new gym, Sookmyung has yet to address the concern. In a recent interview with SMT, one member of the 365 said, “During the petition signing campaign, we sent two requests to Sookmyung administration asking for the school to comment on the need for a gym. However, the school did not respond in a timely manner, so the Head of our department had to make a formal phone call asking them how they would proceed.” This case clearly shows that even though Sookmyungians demand for improved school facilities, no progress can be made if Sookmyung turns a deaf ear.
To resolve matters related to school facilities, attention is needed from all people at Sookmyung, not just students. The survey found that 39.5% (51 of 129 respondents) said that in order to address facility problems, there needs to be a concern from officials at Sookmyung Women’s University. In other words, most Sookmyungians want Sookmyung’s officials to acknowledge the seriousness of the problems and move to correct the matters. “Sometimes when I personally experience a lacking in school facilities, I want to express my inconvenience to officials of Sookmyung. However, I don’t because it is difficult to contact officials since there is a lack of proper channels. Indeed, I could create a hand-written poster that details the issue, but I doubt whether the complaint would be read by officials, especially knowing the lack of influence other poster writing has had,” said Kim Hyunkyeong, Department of English Language & Literature ’19. As Kim points out, there is a need for a link between Sookmyungians and officials at Sookmyung so that they can communicate easily.
What makes Sookmyung convenient?
Though Sookmyung has a large student to land ratio compared to other schools, a few numbers of its facilities seem to be made for only a few Sookmyungians. To resolve this problem, some Sookmyungians have voiced complaints about facilities or lack thereof and have requested Sookmyung make improvements. However, as of yet, there is no concrete response to requests and there is also a lack of communication between officials and students. Therefore, ‘lack of facilities’ is still a matter that needs urgent attention. There is a need for Sookmyung to view the problem seriously and try to actively discuss it with Sookmyungians. Only through serious attention and reflection on the various opinions of Sookmyungians, can Sookmyung become a more convenient and efficient campus.
Kim Han Yujin / Reporter
Kwak Lee Shinyoung / Reporter