Ministry conducts safety investigations on freshman orientations trips
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Ministry conducts safety investigations on freshman orientations trips
  • Son Young-chai
  • 승인 2016.03.14 11:40
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Last week, the Ministry of Education (MOE) inspected freshman orientation sites of 13 universities nation-wide, including Hanyang, Hongik and Seoul National University of Education.
“We are deeply regretful about the tragic incidents that are continuously occurring in universities,” said the officer of MOE. “Our efforts of sending manuals for freshmen orientations and requesting cooperation to universities to prevent sexual harassment and enforced participation seem to be ineffective.”
In 2014, due to the structural collapse of Mauna Ocean Resort, 10 students lost their lives and more than 200 freshman students were injured while attending the welcoming event of Busan University of Foreign Studies. Since then, the government has been continuously advising that orientation trips be held in safe environments.
As their first action, in 2014, the MOE started to distribute a safety manual for group training sessions. This year, the ministry has additionally planned on-site safety inspections on major accommodations that host large orientation events. According to the MOE, the written evaluations conducted from 2014 to 2015 proved to be ineffective. Therefore, it has added the site inspections and reinforced regulations with the newly published Freshman Orientation Operation Guideline.
In order to monitor the group activities more effectively and prevent further incidents, the MOE has stepped up the investigation of past events as well. At Konkuk University, it investigated the accusations of sexual harassment during the freshman orientation that have been spreading via SNS. At Daegu National University of Education, the ministry investigated penalty fees that the student government collected from students who did not attend the orientation.
The MOE also inspected 13 universities that were to hold orientation events with an estimated attendance of more than 500 people. The inspection was conducted by both public officials of the MOE and local government. They evaluated the orientation sites according to the safety standards of the accommodation and transportation, education concerning issues related to alcohol and violence, and the application for group insurance.
Through strict inspections and Freshman Orientation Operation Guideline, the MOE is trying to initiate a change in the orientation traditions of Korean universities. The ministry is encouraging alcohol-free orientations and advising universities to shorten the orientation to within one day. To promote these recommendations, the MOE reported that from now on, if an orientation lasts more than two days, there must be a registered supervisor who will be responsible for the events.
“Especially for orientations held before the school semester begins, the school will be held accountable,” the MOE said. “Therefore, student governments will be forbidden to organize orientations autonomously.”
Additionally, the MOE forbid universities and their student governments from collecting money from students in order to lessen the cost of their freshman orientation programs. They also instructed schools not to offer financial support for accommodations used for orientations that extend to more than one day.
“To further encourage schools to engage in making a safe orientation culture, we plan to seek representative universities as role models which other universities may follow,” the MOE said. “On the other hand, we will inform schools on safety hazards they need to fix.”


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