Recently, several universities have announced plans to construct new dormitories or have already completed their construction.
Korea University announced its plan on Sept. 2 to construct a dormitory that accommodates 1,100 students by 2017. Ewha Womans University started the construction of new dormitory on Aug. 31, which will open in 2016 to accommodate 2,344 students. Yonsei University completed the construction of new dormitory called Woojungwon and students have started residing from October 2014.
According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Education on Oct. 30, the average accommodation level of dormitory for private universities is 14 percent.
When these university dormitories are built, the accommodation level is expected to rise. While Ewha with its current dormitory shows 8 percent of accommodation level, it is expected to rise to 20 percent when the new dormitory is constructed.
“Prices of rental and boarding houses are extremely high in Sinchon campus especially because of the convenient commute to downtown and easy access to many other universities,” said Ryu Chang-su, an official from Office of Finance Affairs. “Therefore, the construction of dormitories is planned in order to lessen students’ burden of high residence fee and offer them more residence selection, and not for school to make profits from it.”
As a response to universities’ efforts to raise the accommodation level of dormitories, leasers of nearby rental houses fiercely oppose the universities’ movements. They claim that their businesses are greatly threatened as new dormitories are more preferred compared to rental houses.
Especially for the case of Ewha’s dormitory, leasers also brought up environmental issues. They argue that the construction devastates North Ahyeon Forest which used to be recognized as Biotope, protected area for organisms, as the construction takes place near the forest.
The leasers aggressively show their opposition. Three hundred people from Bugahyeon-dong and several civic groups gathered in front of University Industry Cooperation Building and held a protest, “Denunciation on Destruction of North Ahyeon Forest,” on Oct. 14.
Soon, Yonsei University’s Student Government Association (SGA) and University Students Residence Network hosted “Sinchon Member Debate” with officials from Yonsei University and leasers on Oct. 29.
However, students and leasers could not reconcile their differences.
“Sinchon community should seek appropriate ways for all members including students, residents and universities to live together harmoniously without dispute,” said Lee Han-sol (Yonsei University, 4), the president of Yonsei University’s SGA. “Pursuing profits should be done in a more reasonable way as current fees for rental houses cost extremely high.”
Students strongly oppose the leasers’ argument and believe that construction of a new dormitory is not only beneficial but also necessary.
“Students are fully aware of the fact that the accommodation level for Ewha’s dormitory is extremely low,” said Park Sung-eun (Special Education, 4). “I do not understand why leasers strongly oppose the plan which offers students a lot of benefits.”