The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced a “manual for university students’ safety at group trainings” on March 21. On top of the yearly problems at university group trainings, the accident related with the freshmen orientation of
Busan University of Foreign Studies triggered the MOE’s adoption of the safety manual.
Numerous issues have been raised at university group trainings over years. According to the results of an open forum under the theme of “To make a happy Membership Training” hosted by Seoul National University Human Rights Center, problems related to alcohol and sex happened most frequently during group trainings.
Even though problems related to alcohol are gradually declining, accidents still occur. Ministry of Health and Welfare data shows that 12 students died of excessive drinking from 2008 to 2013 during group trainings. Sexual harassments also occur occasionally such as the case of a female student harassed by three male students in 2011 at a group training of Korea University.
To prevent such accidents from occurring at university group trainings, the MOE issued a safety manual. The manual applies to all events held outside of school, including membership trainings and freshmen orientations.
“What MOE emphasized the most in the manual is that universities should supervise freshmen orientations instead of leaving it to the student council,” said Kim Hong-sun, the secretary of the MOE. “As the true aim of freshmen orientations is to help students adjust to campus life, it is better for the university to take charge of the event.”
The manual also includes checking on the safety of transportation and accommodation, ensuring the range for compensation of insurances and educating students on safety rules in advance.
Most students are positive toward the ministry’s willingness to improve the environment of group trainings.
“As for the MOE, they might have concluded that strong measures should be taken as public discussion was triggered by the accident at Busan University of Foreign Studies,” Seo Hye-jin (Politics & Diplomacy, 3) said. “If the manual is successfully carried out with support from universities, the aim of strengthening safety at group trainings could be achieved.”
However, there are some doubts among students on the effectiveness of the manual.
“As policies in Korea usually do not remain for a long time, I am skeptical that the plan can improve the environment of orientation,” Kim Da-hyun (Nutritional Science & Food Management, 2) said.
Furthermore, students pointed out that the manual could restrict students’ activities held outside the school.
“The manual should not interfere with the autonomy of the student council and other student organizations,” Seo said.
“Before putting it into action, there is a need for profound consideration.”
Through the manual, the MOE hopes universities reduce the possible dangers of group trainings and regain the original purpose of those events.
“I wish the manual works out well, but it should at least revive the very meaning of group trainings: not a dangerous camp but a first, grand step into campus life,” Kim said.