Cho Su-min, a freshman majoring in International Studies could not help feeling disappointed and even quite angry. The reality of the Hanwoori Hall was far off from the so-called “Harry Potter Dormitory” that she had expected. The plan for Residential College (RC) had been demolished. Furthermore, the new dormitory that was supposed to be completed this spring still has a long way to go.
A lot of freshmen were told that they would be part of RC, a school system in which all freshmen reside in dormitories and participate in various educational programs under the themes of global leadership and ethics. After a year of trial in 2014, the school planned to expand RC and incorporate all freshmen starting in 2015. Such plan was widely advertised to high schools through admissions brochures. Student ambassadors dispatched to their graduated high schools also advertised the plan to college applicants from last year. However, the RC program suddenly came to a halt at the end of 2014.
“RC played an important role in my decision to come to Ewha, since I have a long commute to Seoul,” Cho said. “Before entering, I had expected the school to inform me regarding RC, which never happened. Thus, I called the school and found out that RC no longer exists. It came as a shock to me.”
RC fizzles out without notice and new dormitory far from completion
The Office of Planning and Coordination (OPC) explains that the RC program was altered to be affiliated with the new dormitory which is currently being built rather than maintaining its original mandatory residence policy.
“Students’ feedback on RC program in 2014 was generally positive,” said an official from OPC. “However, we decided that it would be better to respect freshmen’s choice of residence, rather than obliging all of them to live in the dorm. Thus the the program is now only for those who desire to reside in the new dormitory.
However, students still complain that there has been no official announcement on the discontinuance of the RC as a program for all freshman.
“I had to call the school first to learn about how the RC program is going on,” Cho claimed. “It made me think that the school has been irresponsible.”
The school also admits that there has not been particular effort in declaring the suspension of RC.
“We did not make a separate announcement because the RC will be continued in a different form rather than being completely abolished,” said the official of OPC.
Another unanticipated deviance from the original plan for RC is the delayed construction of the new dormitories. In 2014, the school announced that the new dormitories would fully accommodate undergraduate students from the spring semester of 2016. However, its ambition fell short, as the buildings have yet to be completed due to strong objections from Sinchon residents during the onset of construction. The construction was impeded by severe weather as well.
Yet the primary source of student complaints was not the delay of construction, but its unkept promises. The school proclaimed the new dormitories to be completed by this February, which was not realized. Furthermore, during various school fairs and promotions, the school had advertised the full accommodation of students in new dormitories. This semester, only Hanwoori Hall Building C, out of the intended six buildings, is accomodating students selectively.
“I was quite disappointed when I saw the new dormitories still under construction,” said Lee Sae-gyung (alias), who is currently living in Hanwoori Hall Building C. “Since I do not reside in Seoul, I would have had to look for elsewhere, which is more complicated if I had not been lucky enough to get into the Hanwoori Hall.”
Hanwoori Hall Building C, the largest building among six anticipated new dormitory buildings, is five stories high with four basement floors. The other four buildings, which are to be completed in August, will be five stories above ground with two basement floors. Additionally, a smaller single story building with a basement floor will also start taking in students from the fall semester. Built across a total of 10 thousand square meters of land, the actual accommodation area of the new dormitories will amount to more than 60 thousand square meters, 3.3 times larger than that of the Hanwoori Hall.
Unlike the initial plan for the new dormitories to accommodate about 2,300 students, the new dormitories are currently expected to take in 2,581. Including the residents of the Hanwoori Hall, the school is looking forward to accommodate over 4,000 students in the school dormitories by September. In the school promotion booklet 2016Ewh@ro, the school stated that students from outer provinces would not need to worry about finding accommodation as this number is expected to exceed the number of students from distant provinces.
According to the Office of Facilities, the new dormitories will be in a form of units. Each unit will consist of several rooms, with a total of six to 10 students who share a common space and bathroom. Additionally, the new dormitories will include a cafeteria, convenience store, reading room, fitness room, art room, movie room and more.
Regarding this massive construction project, Lee voiced some concern, and wished the school not to rush the construction.
“I hope that the school keeps an attentive eye on the current constructions,” Lee said. “At times, I felt that the construction of Building C was in a rush, especially when I witnessed water leaking from the ceiling of Building C a few days ago.”
Despite the postponement of the new dormitories, the Office of Facilities ensured that construction will be completed by the end of August.
“We have finished constructing the frame, and are now in the finalizing process,” said a correspondent. “Undergraduate students will be able to enjoy the new dormitories by the next semester.”