The school has decided to partially reconstruct Hak-gwan starting from April 2020. This decision was made after Hak-gwan received the lowest rating regarding its structure and functionality in the deterioration evaluation, which requires it to be either demolished or rebuilt. The board of directors of the school foundation has confirmed the decision, and specific plans regarding the procedure are expected to be announced soon.
There have been continuous concerns and discussions on the safety issues of Hak-gwan as it is one of Ewha’s oldest buildings. Among the rising concerns about its safety, a serious incident occurred in June 2017 when a water tank on the rooftop collapsed. Although there were no casualties, students and professors had to evacuate the building during classes, after which inspections regarding the safety of the building were conducted. The results revealed the building as “safe without any major problems.” However, the safety of the building has been in question since.
The reconstruction, which is estimated to take 20 months, will only restrict the new wing of the building to expand the area where recreation halls and large-size classrooms are located. The old wing of the building will be repaired to improve the facilities including the installation of an elevator while retaining the unique ‘ㄱ’ (giyeok) structure of the building.
When students were informed about the plan, they demanded that the school include students’ opinions in discussing the decision and raised several concerns regarding their rights.
Students first asked whether extra space to take classes would be guaranteed during the construction period. Since graduation requirements and major classes for students who belong to the College of Liberal Arts are all held in the building, there have been concerns about the students’ right to take classes.
“Since the reconstruction will only cover the new wing of the building, there will be no major problem in continuing the major classes for students of the College of Liberal Arts,” an official of Planning and Coordination said. “However, we are also working to guarantee a new place to hold common required courses since the large-sized lecture rooms of the new wing will be unavailable during the rebuilding period. We are currently looking for new places in other buildings where such classes may be able to be held.”
Not only is the building used for classes, but there are also student clubs that have their spaces in the building, which is mostly used for performance clubs’ regular practices and rehearsals. Students have inquired if there would be any additional space offered for those clubs that are mostly performance or sports clubs.
“As most of the spaces offered for students to support student clubs or student councils are located in the old wing of the building, we do not think there will be a problem for students to continue using the spaces,” the official replied. “We will take extra care to guarantee the usage of the rooms.”
The school shared that further plans are to be made for the reconstruction, since the discussion is still at an early stage.
“When there are more specific details, students will be informed about the new decisions through announcements by the related organization of the school,” the official of the Planning and Coordination said.
Moreover, the student council of the College of Liberal Arts is also planning to work on reorganizing students’ demands and opinions about the reconstruction.
“We are now planning to open online survey forms to collect students’ opinions on the reconstruction and deliver those to the school,” shared the student council.