Ewha Dormintory's decision to mandate regular COVID-19 testing from March 24 has instigated a heated debate among students. According to the dormitory’s board of notice, all residents except for students of Ewha Language Center and guest room users must be tested for COVID-19 once every 15 days until June 15.
Following the mandate, students will have to receive a total of six COVID-19 tests for the following four months. With the regular testing being mandatory, students are subject to two penalty points if they do not take the test by the deadline of every session.
To take the test, students should make a reservation on the EUREKA portal system and visit the Ewha Safe Station located in front of the Student Union Building.
In general, students can receive the results in the morning of the following day. Results are then delivered to the housing office directly from the Ewha Safe Station.
In accordance with the current pandemic, the dormitory has recently required students to meet three standards to maintain a safe facility: completion of the third round of vaccination, daily health surveys, and regular testing every 15 days.
These standards have given rise to controversy over whether or not the requirements are reasonable, especially over the recent decision on mandatory regular testing. Some complain about the risk of receiving penalty points due to the imposition of such excessive requirements.
Students have also made a point that regular testing is not necessary when looking at the society’s tendency to ease restrictions and investigations. As the government no longer provides data tracing to the public and the dormitory also put a stop to providing data about infected students since this March, students are skeptical about the school’s new regulations.
Ka-yen Chao, an exchange student from the Netherlands majoring in psychology, shared her views on the controversy, adding that the policy is not effective enough.
She noted that she understands why the test should be mandatory. However, she highly doubts it will work because the test only gives results for that moment, which means that someone can be negative on the testing day and be positive on the next day.
Chao especially objected to the requirement that even those who have already contracted COVID-19 are still required to undergo the test repeatedly as well.
“I tested positive a few weeks ago and have fully recovered now,” she said. “Although my result does not matter, the school wants me to get tested over and over. This is unnecessary work for both parties. The policy is wasting a test on me, and I am wasting my time on the test.”
While making a constructive criticism against the policy, Chao expressed concern for Ewha students as South Korea has been reporting hundreds of thousands of new COVID-19 cases every day.
“It is not easy to prevent COVID-19, especially on the campus or in the dormitory, where the students are crowded,” she said. “Considering the fact that the virus spreads fast among young people, I understand why Ewha has such rules.”
Another student who wished to remain anonymous also voiced her stance. As the dormitory is a place where a lot of students live together, it is not easy to prevent infections. Correspondingly, she explains that receiving regular testing itself is not a bad idea, but penalizing a student who misses a session is what makes the students stressed.
“Submitting daily health surveys and taking tests every 15 days can be more cumbersome than one may think,” she explained. “If the dormitory is going to mandate regular testing, I think daily health surveys should be eliminated.”