Advertisers at Ewha bother school community
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Advertisers at Ewha bother school community
  • Jean Rumball
  • 승인 2014.03.02 23:12
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Jean Rumball
I arrived for class in the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC) one day last semester to find an older man in a dark suit standing amongst my students outside our classroom. The class was going to start any minute. “Can I talk to your class for five minutes?” the man in a suit asked. At first I agreed because student groups and representatives sometimes ask if they can speak before class starts, and I assumed that he was a university official. Who else would want to make an announcement to students during class hours? At least that was what I had in mind. However, what I expected turned out to be false. When I asked him what he wanted to talk about to the class so that I could introduce him properly, he held out a Time magazine. Then he started telling me about the new cheap rate for students. I must have looked incredulous, because he said, “Take it. Keep. You see good.” Clearly this gift was meant to persuade me. I was angry. This man wanted to use me and my students’ class time, for which my students have paid great fees, to advertise his untrustworthy product. When I asked if he had permission from the university to address students this way, he said he did not. Being more polite than I felt, I replied that he could speak to my students if he showed me written permission from the university. He seemed frustrated and left quickly, and of course I never saw him again. On another occasion, I was walking to my office when another man in a suit appeared out of the blue and stopped me, asking if I was a teacher at Ewha. I said I was and stopped to talk, thinking that, like many well-dressed guests in the ECC, he was here for an official function and was in search for a particular room. But it was a false alarm again. “Do you have insurance?” he asked. “I provide good insurance for foreigners.” I said I was not interested on principle and started to go into my office. The man, however, held the door open to insist I tell him where to find other foreign teachers that he could talk to. As if I would hand him my colleagues! This is disgusting. How are salesmen allowed to walk freely around campus interrupting students and teachers while they are at work? Ewha is a place for learning: students pay for this space and for teachers’ time, which should not be imposed upon or taken up by private companies selling their products. It is unethical for advertisers to target students this way, especially in classrooms, because students are a captive audience: they can just get up and leave class. Also, the formal classroom setting gives the advertisers and their message false authority. So that if I had not thought to ask the first man what he wished to talk about and let him go ahead, it would appear to students that I, the teacher, endorsed his product, thereby perhaps helping his advertising by enhancing its apparent value to students. This kind of behavior by advertisers is inappropriate in a university and I strongly suggest that Ewha should take steps to protect its students and teachers from such exploitation by more closely monitoring the identity and purpose of visitors. If it does not, the school may be suspected of endorsing, and perhaps even being paid for this kind of unethical advertising. *Jean Rumball holds a PhD in Old English from the University of Cambridge and taught at Ewha’s English Program Office until last December. She now teaches at a university in Bahrain.

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