“Five dormitory meal tickets for sale.” This posting and 183 other similar advertisements posted on the flea market board a Ewha’s online community, Ewhaian.com, raise questions about the current meal plan policy of the dormitory.
It is mandatory for students residing at the Hanwoori Dormitory to buy 50 meal tickets monthly. A number of students of the dormitory, however, find themselves unable to use all their meal coupons they are required to buy each month. According to the 2007 questionnaire research held by the student council of the Hanwoori Dormitory, 38% of the students had responded that the coupons were too many for them.
“Last year, I didn’t use any of my coupons,” said Sel-ki Agnes Kang (International Studies, 2). “The cafeteria only offered meals at certain times, but my classes were usually too far away from the dorms to reach the cafeteria in time.” Kang ended up selling her coupons through the Web site. “The buyers of my tickets were fellow dormitory students, law majors or students who used the Centennial Library frequently,” said Kang.
Although there is no explicit rule against selling the coupons to outsiders, Pyo Eun-ja, the superintendent of the dormitory, discourages the practice. “Dormitory life involves social aspect니 students are expected to experience group living, and mandatory meals are part of the conduct which they should follow to maintain order,” said Pyo. “Most students benefit from buying the mandatory meal coupons because they cost less than what they have to pay to buy them individually.”
Currently, the cost of an individual meal coupon for the dormitory is 2000 won to 2400 won. However, students who buy in group of 50 pay 19000 won per ticket.
“It’s a waste of money for students who have remaining meal coupons,” said Kang. If Kang had not sold her meal coupons, she would have wasted up to 100,000 won a month. Resellers, says Kang, get the full price of each coupon if they sell early in the month, but only half price at the end of the month.
Other schools have taken different measures to prevent students from wasting on extra meal tickets. “We allow the use of the coupons at convenience stores located on campus beginning two to three weeks before the winter and summer breaks,” said the employer of the Housing Office of Yonsei University. “This way, we encourage students to use all their coupons without wasting them.”
At Seoul National University (SNU), students were obligated to buy meal tickets until they protested against the school to change the system. “There was a high rate of students missing their meals since the cafeteria was too far away from their classes,” said an employee of SNU student dormitory, Chung Kyung-sung. “Today, SNU students can buy their meals on the same day they want to have a meal back at their dorms.”
“I always wanted to inform the school that there are too many coupons for me,” said Kang. “I’m not saying that we should get rid of mandatory meal coupons, but they should also consider people who are forced to wasted money.”