Competition to reserve seats in reading rooms is a ritual for Ewha students.
In central areas like the Centennial library and the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC), the competition is regulated by electronic ticket gates which prevent students from holding reservations for longer than 90 minutes. But in smaller rooms in separate colleges, the problem is worsened by students leaving their belongings permanently at certain seats, making other students incapable of using them.
This problem of "privatization" is particularly serious in the study rooms at the Education Building and the Law Building where students preparing for national examinations often study.
In Education Building B, the problem of privatization affects students who use the study rooms on the first and second floors. There are reserved seats for students preparing for the national teachers' appointment examination in the Higher Civil Service Examination (HCSE) preparation room, but, for other students, there is no clear system in place.
According to Lee Ji-hoon (Social Studies Education, 2), a fundamental problem behind seat privatization is the lack of lockers. There are approximately 1,456 lockers for 2,357 education majors. Lee says that because textbooks are so heavy, some students store their books in the study rooms when they take their classes. "It seems to me that they think they will use that seat anyway," said Lee.
Lee You-jin (Science Education, 2) says that since the Education Building is located so far off from the middle of campus, students want to stay inside the building rather than study at the reading rooms of the Centennial Library of the ECC.
"Students should leave notes when they leave their seats so that other students can use the seats during that time," said Lee.
Law majors suffer from similar problems. After the fifth floor of the Centennial Library was converted into offices for the Law School and closed to undergraduates, students began to use the reading rooms in the Law Library. But they privatized seats so much that the library has conducted compulsory rearrangements every day since August 2008.
The College of Law also provides two other study rooms, one on the third floor and the other on the fourth. Seats in these rooms, however, are also subject to privatization.
Choi Yu-ra (Law, 3) says, "some students, especially those who are studying for the bar exam, just put their notebooks or blankets down and don't use their seats for days."
As complaints among students grew, the student council of the College of Law has decided to put away all belongings left on the desks after the study rooms close at night, so that students who come early the next day can study.
"It is not easy for students to put other students' belongings away and use the seats. So the student council created a compulsory solution in advance and enforces it," said Jeong Da-hee (Law, 3), who is the current student representative of the College of Law. "There is no doubt that privatization of seats should be restricted," said Jeong.