Students Hang On To Loaned Umbrellas Long After The Rain
Students Hang On To Loaned Umbrellas Long After The Rain
  • 강서미
  • 승인 2003.06.04 00:00
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The Student Government Association"s (SGA) project of "Lending Umbrellas of Love" to Ewhaians stirred up controversy on May 5, when it publicized a list of names and identification numbers of students who had failed to return loaned umbrellas for more than a month. The SGA had started the project in 2002 with 1,000 umbrellas which the students could borrow by leaving their names, phone numbers, and student I.D. numbers. The return rate last year was one percent, and this year it is looking much the same as only 300 umbrellas out of 500 were returned in the first two months of the semester.
The SGA argues that they gave students enough warnings and previous notifications of their intention to disclose the list of those that had not returned the umbrellas. "One must be responsible for one? actions," says Kim Bo-mi (Business Administration, 2). "Plus, the listing of names only temporarily embarrasses students, and does not really affect their school life."
Other students saw the issue differently: "Though the primary responsibility lies within the students, there needs to be a concerted effort between the SGA and the students to solve the problem on equal footing, not in a crime and punishment type of way," says Lee Ji-in (Social Welfare, 4).
Yonsei University, which began its umbrella lending program three years ago, decided not to continue it this year. Two main reasons were given by Yonsei"s SGA for their action: First, the return rates were close to zero, having lost all of the 600 umbrellas they started with. Second, as the members of the SGA and their respective agendas change yearly, it is hard to maintain any continuity in policies, leading to the discontinuing of some projects.
The Students Committee of Welfare runs a similar project of lending umbrellas at Sungkyunkwan University. This program goes back three years as well, and starts off each year with a set of 200 umbrellas. This year, they"re already down to 60 umbrellas. To better encourage their return, the committee plans to create a computer database that will hold information on the borrowers and also send instant messages to the students cellular phones, reminding them of the need to return umbrellas.
The situation is similar in provincial universities. The Cooperative Association of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Yong-in also faced a large number of unreturned umbrellas. However, it has reduced the number of umbrellas it distributes. Currently, it lends out only about 30 umbrellas, and their return rate has gone up to 80 percent.
Unlike Ewha University, Yonsei, Sungkyunkwan, and the Yong-in Hankuk University of Foreign Studies loan their umbrellas in exchange for the students I.D. cards. Nevertheless, despite the various efforts by organizations overseeing the umbrella lending programs in these universities, the return rates remain unsatisfactory. Nobody questions the need for the "Umbrellas of Love." However, the "historic" low returns of the umbrellas discourage many universities from starting or from continuing similar projects. The losses, ironically, go back to the students.

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