The last shuttle bus that heads to the Hanwoori Hall and the E-House leaves at 11:40 p.m. in front of the Admission Hall. Students who miss this bus have to run to the dormitory to make the midnight curfew. Many students living in the school dormitory have long complained of and questioned the necessity of the dormitory curfew.
According to the Ewha Voice survey of 530 Ewha dormitory residents, 45 percent of the students expressed the need of a later curfew. 43 percent of respondents answered that it should be abolished, while 11 percent agreed with the current curfew.
There were several reasons behind the opposition to the current curfew. The most frequently stated reason was that such a rigid curfew is unnecessary for adult students, who are capable of taking care of themselves, and thus interferes with students’ autonomy. Another reason was that some students have part-time jobs at late hours. These students have no choice but to stay outside, since many jobs finish at midnight.
“I am limited in my choice of part-time jobs as I have to consider the midnight curfew,” commented one respondent. “Even though I need to earn for my living, it is hard for me to get a suitable job.”
A common response was that students would rather stay out all night rather than attempt to return to the dormitory past midnight. Since the dormitory opens at 5 a.m. students have to stay outside, waiting for time to pass to avoid getting demerit points. Students go to 24-hour cafés or wander around the campus. Some students nap in the sleeping room in the Student Union Building, which is open all night to those with student IDs. However, the small number of cots is not enough to accommodate all the students who need a place to sleep.
In the face of such situations, respondents doubt that the curfew benefits students’ safety. Although the curfew is maintained with the purpose of keeping students safely indoors at night, many students inevitably choose to stay outside all night to avoid demerit points, possibly exposing them to further danger. One respondent questioned the necessity of a curfew, since outsiders are prevented entry to the dormitory anyway.
Another respondent raised the question of the curfew regarding the dormitory security. She said, the danger of an outsider entering the dormitory is the same at night as in the afternoon, so if the curfew is held for security-related reasons, then the dormitory security should be much more strengthened on the whole and not only at night.
Students made suggestions hoping for more flexibility in the dormitory regulation. The suggestions included extending the curfew to around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., flexible regulation of curfew on weekends, abolishing the curfew, and strengthening the identity confirmation process when entering the dormitory.
Students have several episodes related to the dormitory curfew. One student responded that she heard of some students putting bricks between the door before midnight to prevent it from being locked. Another student shared her experience of getting lost when walking up to the dormitory at midnight but fortunately hitching a ride in a car that was coming up, which turned out to be driven by a professor in her major.
Some students complained that the current curfew is too strict.
“Last week, I tried to sign up for the sleep out, because I wasn’t able to make it up to my dormitory before midnight,” said an E-House resident. “But it was too late to sign up, so when I arrived at the dormitory a little past curfew, I got five demerit points from the guard after stating my reasons.”
She reasoned that considering how 10 demerit points results in eviction, five points for being late for curfew is too harsh.
According to the dormitory Administration Office, the curfew has been continued with the opening of the Hanwoori Hall in 1999, to reduce the occurrence of possible dangerous incidents. As it put security and safety in the priority, curfew was set to prevent possible factors from outside such as the drunk. The current midnight curfew was amended in 2013 after the survey on dormitory students, from the previous 11 p.m.
Currently, there is no curfew in the dormitory of Seoul National University, and Yonsei University flexibly changes its curfew from its usual 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. during exam periods. Korea University only holds curfew for the women’s dormitory, which is 2 a.m., while curfew for the men’s dormitory was abolished in 2013.