Until the 1990s, it was unusual to see men step onto the Ewha campus, and controlling who went in and out of the campus - at least for men - was not difficult. Yet, restrictions on outsiders entering campus have gradually loosened, and now the opening of the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC) has brought numerous visitors into campus. An incident on February 23 has now brought the question of tightening security on campus once more.
A student in the Arts and Design department was using the bathroom in Arts and Design Building A when she noticed something sparkling in the metal of the fixture. She turned around and saw a white camera phone being held under the space between her stall and the next. The student tried to corner the suspect, and then the occupant of the stall - a man in a suit - ran from the bathroom.
After the incident, the student went to the administration office of the building, where the officers helped her check CCTV records to try to identify the suspect. Then, she reported the incident to the student council and to the police.
Having received the report from the student council, the Ewha Sexual Harassment Committee held a meeting with school officials to examine the complaint and investigate the ways other school's deal with sexual harassment. "The school is now reexamining Ewha's campus safety and coming up with countermeasures to prevent such incidents," said Ko Kyung-hee, a researcher at the Center for Gender Affairs.
Even before the February 23 incident, the school had been putting extra-efforts into campus security.
Recently, more emergency phones have been installed around school. At the moment, there are 38 emergency phones, 19 of them in the ECC. According to the Safety Control Center, about two emergency calls come in a week. They are usually about problems with elevators and minor car accidents.
"Other than emergency phones, we have seen a sudden increase in students checking CCTV records for lost objects," said Lee Han-woo, a staff member at the Safety Control Center.
The school also has a policy of blocking entrance to men after ten at night. Yet, the chief of staff at the Office of General Affairs, Shin Hyun-sik, says that there are limitations.
"We have numerous policies for security around school. Guards that are in charge of each building patrol regularly to watch out for intruders," said Shin. "But limitations occur since there are students bringing their boyfriends inside school buildings. We are doing our best to keep Ewha students safe, but students also have to help us do our job."
Patrolling the buildings regularly also does not guarantee complete safety.
"Right after the man ran out of the bathroom, I decided to go talk to the guard about what happened," said the student involved in the February 23 incident. "When I told him the story, he said that he had just patrolled the entire building and did not see any suspicious people."
The student council is urging Ewha students to voice their opinion on what they think is the best solution.
"This may be a huge incident of only one student. However, the student council believes that it closely relates to all Ewha students," said Kim Da-sol (English Education,3), a member of the student council. "A solid solution is needed and we want to hear from all students."
Ko advises students in an emergency situation that it is better to find someone nearby rather than go far away to find help. She also notes that calling the school's emergency number will connect you directly to the closest guardroom.