Are you satisfied with facilities of lecture rooms or buildings at our university, the University of Seoul? There are many kinds of facilities; desk, chair, board, projector, audio and heating and cooling system. Have you ever thought “What is wrong with this? It does not work!” or experienced lecture suspension because of dysfunctional projector or audio? When taking a class in a lecture room or resting in the lounge, we use a variety of facilities. These are essentials to our campus life, and we also deserve to get the best-conditioned facilities as students who paid the tuition fee. Contrary to our expectations, the result of survey revealed that 64 percent of UOS students are not satisfied and demand facilities to be replaced or fixed. The UOS Times tried to hear the complaints of students and find out a capacity for improvement.
There are various buildings in UOS campus from old ones including Cheonnong Hall, Architecture and Civil Engineering, and Humanities Building to new ones like Mirae Hall, Information and Technology Building, and General Lecture and Law institute. Of course the foundation year of each building is also evenly distributed. For instance, Cheonnong Hall was built in 1974, and Mirae Hall in 2008. It is completely natural to construct new buildings in university campus. However, the problem is that as new buildings are erected facilities also have to offer best class environment to students, but they fail to fulfill their purpose.
Furthermore, gap of facility quality between the buildings also exists. The older the building, the more complaints did the facilities get from displeased students. The newer the building, fewer the number of complaints was received as vise versa.
For example, heaters in old buildings like Humanities Building and Cheonnong Hall have very low power, so students who take class in those building experience huge discomfort. Additionally, some projectors have very low resolutions or project blurred screen. One of the worst facilities is attached desk, which desks are attached to chair directly so it is hard to sit comfortably.
Satisfaction level and Opinions of Students on Facilities
As seen in survey on next page, there are about 36 percent of students who are satisfied with the facilities of UOS. It showed that heating and cooling systems, desks, and chairs were most satisfactory, except for some controversial cases; In terms of building, relatively recently built buildings like Mirae Hall, General Lecture and Law Institute, and Information and Technology Building were favored, especially regarding heating and cooling systems. Additionally, the newer the building is, the higher likelihood that various amenities such as student lounges are offered; Alti Lounge in General Lecture and Law Institute, Underground Lounge and 1st floor lobby lounge in Mirae Hall, and Information and Technology Building.
Exterior of these three buildings is also relatively decent compared to that of other old buildings. For example, in our survey, some satisfied students said, “I like the way buildings, especially new buildings, look.” Another opinion of students in survey was mutual to the school facilities; “Although I am not that satisfied, I also have no big dissatisfaction. So I can say I am satisfied with facilities.” However, ironically, General Lecture and Law Institute has received satisfaction and dissatisfactactory comments at the same time. The reasons for its dissatisfaction are some broken chairs on lecture theatre and acid smell on 2nd floor lobby.
At the same time, many students complained about various facilities in UOS. The most frequently complained facilities were desks and chairs. Especially, disappointment remained regarding them because of attached desks. Although General Lecture and Law Institute ranked second most adequate building, its attached desks in the lecture theatre cause lots of displeased voices to arise. In this building, there are several poorly conditioned chairs or none in some places. These attached desks in the lecture theatre are also in the 1st Engineering Building, Changgong Hall, and Science and Technology Building. Lee Seon-young (Dept. of Social Welfare, ’14) said, “Chairs of the large lecture theatre in Changgong Hall are really uncomfortable. Space between students is extremely narrow, and there is no place to even put my bag. Another reason is that the design of attached desks forces a certain sitting position.
In addition, it is hard for me every time I try to go outside of lecture room in the breaking time because other students next to me have to all stand up to make way.” Another type of attached desk is literally chairs are directly attached to desk. Kim Soo-bin (School of Environmental Engineering, ’14) said, “Problem on this attached desk is not even worth mentioning.
Those attached desks should be eliminated from UOS. I do not even know why these chairs still exist.” The survey by The UOS Times revealed that Cheonnong Hall, Humanities Building and the 21st Building do not offer students proper environment for education and campus life.
Cheonnong Hall also has attached desks in lecture rooms but there is a more serious problem: Heating system. Especially in winter, the heaters in lecture rooms of Cheonnong Hall are not enough to warm the classrooms; consequentially, many students continuously complained about not being able to concentrate on lecture, shivering through the lectures. Heaters in Cheonnong Hall are mostly radiators which are considerably low in efficiency.
Lee said “Radiator is one of the lowest efficient heaters. It is very hot near the heater but a little away from radiator heats are not transferred at all. It is freezing cold again.” Humanities Building has a similar problem that Cheonnong Hall has because the heating system in the former mostly consists of radiators. Other facilities like desks, chairs, and projectors in Humanities Building were followed by relatively few complaints according to the result of survey. An anonymous student, who mainly used Humanities Building, said “During the winter, I believe Humanities Building is one of the coldest ones; in most of classrooms, the heaters are only aligned right below the windows and are hardly ever turned on.
This makes the classroom freezing cold and students unable to concentrate because, obviously, they are busy shivering. Another thing is the desks. I know for a fact that there are many desks that are broken; regardless, it seems like the staff does not even check the condition of chairs and desks because it is never fixed. As I said, one thing that I hate the most about the building is the heating system. I do not know when it is or will be on. I just have to wait for it to be on, hopelessly. I at least want to know when it will be turned on.” The 1st Engineering Building also has a heating problem; Beyond this problem, the worse one is that this building does not have an elevator. There is also no lounge in this building. Kim said “In fact, the height of 1st floor of the 1st Engineering Building is very tall. High stairs are placed in front of front gate. Nevertheless, there is no elevator in this building. I do not even want to think about going to my class on 4th floor when my legs are hurt or ankles sprained.”
The reason for disappointments with the 21st Century Building is somewhat different from above two buildings. In case of the 21st Century Building, although complaints about attached desk are raised, complaints on other facilities like projector are reported not large in number compared to the number of classrooms. Instead, the 21st Century Building seems to need a new facility, pest repeller. Actually bugs, mostly mosquitoes, in toilet irritate students. Mosquitoes in toilets of the 21st Century Building are notorious for its number. Choi Minkyu (Dept. of Transportation Engineering, ’14) said, “There is literally mosquitoes’ world. When I open the door of toilet, I can easily find five or six mosquitoes in one sight. After five minutes spend in toilet, I got about five mosquito bites. It is really terrible. They must be eradicated.” At the risk of sounding trivial, this problem is actually the one that roused many protests from students, a possible indication of poor sanitation of the building.
Choi said “Men’s shower room of Student Hall is also disappointing. First, hot water is not available. Second, there is no basic toiletry sets. Only water comes out.” Also, Kim said “Design of women’s shower room in Student Hall is also uncomfortable. The female student lounge in Main Library is very dirty. There are stains of coffee on blankets and crumbs of cookies. According to my senior, blankets in female students lounge have never seen washed.” Moreover, most computers in Alti Lounge of General Lecture and Law Institute and 5th floor lounge of Mirae Hall are broken, not allowing students to use them at often times. To sum up all the problems mentioned above, it can be concluded that most unsatisfied voices are focused on desks, chairs and heating system.
Present situation of campus and its problems
These radiators are placed in various buildings where its heating and cooling system is the steam boiler system, which is comparatively old school. Architecture and Civil Engineering, Humanities Building, and the 1st Engineering Building can be examples. The buildings where main heating system is the steam boiler system receive heats from two big boilers.
These two big boilers are located under two buildings; University Center and ROTC Building: Humanities Building, Changgong Hall, Natural Science Building, the 2nd Engineering Building, and Main Library receive heats from ROTC Building; University Center, Architecture and Civil Engineering, and the 1st Engineering Building receive from University Center.
The steam boiler system only can perform heating, so the buildings where only this system is installed have air conditioners for cooling, which both setting temperature and turning on the machine are independent. This is the reason there are relatively less complaints about cooling system are from those building mentioned earlier, namely Humanities Building.
Many complaints on heating problem are reported often from old buildings because they adopt the steam boiler system which is relatively low in efficiency. Electronic pump system, which is comparatively new-fashioned, can do both heating and cooling. The buildings where this system is installed are in central control. To be specific, the temperature of the classrooms are in central control as well, not allowing individual adjustment. Turning on the machine is independent each lecture room. Absorption chiller heater system also can do both heating and cooling.
Baebong Hall originally had the steam boiler system which received heats from ROTC Building like many other buildings before remodeling. After remodeling, this building has no more radiators but the electronic heat pump system. In case of Humanities Building, old building has the steam boiler system and newly extended building has an electronic heat pump system.
Survey and interview informed that some chairs in the lecture theatre in General Lecture and Law Institute are broken or even nonexistent. Also, in 2nd floor in this building stinky acid odor is smelled.
Attached desks are mainly placed in three building; Cheonnong Hall, Science and Technology Building, and the 21st Century Building. In most cases, attached desks are seen among the ordinary detached desks and chairs within a lecture room. However, in the 21st Century Building, whole desks of certain lecture room are attached desk. There are about 353 attached desks in Science and Technology Building and most attached desks in this building expired persisting period. However, the condition of an attached desk itself is generally pretty good if its inconvenience is not considered. In the 21st Century Building, there are about three hundreds attached desks, and about 69 attached desks in Cheonnong Hall.
Solution and capacity for improvement
Main agent to solve these many problems is university authority. How much they know about the inconvenience of UOS students? Plus, we check up on plans for improvements of each facility.
Interviewee : Kim Sam-sung (Team chief of Section of Facilities)
Q. What does the Section of Facilities do mostly?
A. We handle and fix problems about maintenance of buildings, heating and cooling systems, and air conditioners.
Q. Is there any section which manages all facilities in total?
A. Concept of facilities which students think is slightly vague. Contrary to what students think, a section of facilities does not handle problems of chairs, desks, or projectors. Handling problems of chairs and desks is in charge of Office of Academic Affair and University Computer Center handle problems of computers, projectors and audios. The fact is, chairs and desks are materials, not facilities. There is no section which manages all facilities and materials, but we, Section of Facilities, handle most of related problems. I know when students complain to university, it is very hard to find a right and proper section because sections that handle each facility or material are so fragmented.
Q. Does Section of Facilities check facilities regularly or whenever claims are reported?
A. We have checked the facilities regularly. Inspection is divided into two types. One is “Special Inspection” and the other is “Certain Building Inspection of Seoul Metropolitan.” Recently, instructions about safety are often given because recently raised safety issues from Sewol-ferry and Gyeongju Resort accidents. In this year, Certain Building Inspection of Seoul Metropolitan is planned to be done twice. First inspection was already performed in April and May. Second inspection is supposed to be proceeded on December. In this inspection, if necessary, relevant professors take part in.
Q. What do you think about the heating problem, mostly about radiators?
A. The heating problem, which raised so many complaints, is more complicated than students might think. The reason of the lack of heats can be various. One is insulation deficiency from deterioration of building. Another reason can be literally shortage of heating capacity of radiator as a heating system. Buildings like Humanities Building and Cheonnong Hall are very old, so walls of building cannot insulate well. Additionally, windows of these building are not double-pane which is excellent for insulating. The lack of heats can be caused from poor insulation system which cannot hold heats produced from inside of lecture rooms, so it keeps getting out from inside. The very reason has to be induced after specific and professional inspection and calculating.
Q. Lastly, do you have anything to say to students of UOS?
A. I think students use facilities without ownership. Some students waste too much energy. I think the reason is that when students use facilities, they think they are just users, not owners. For example, when lectures are over, they get out with all lights on and air conditioner on. I hope students to use facilities of UOS with more ownership.
Interviewee : Lim Won-bin (Chief of Office of Academic Affair)
Q. Does Office of Academic Affair know how many attached desks are in what building?
A. About 300 attached desks are in The 21st Century Building, 353 in Science and Technology Building, and 69 in Cheonnong Hall.
Q. Is it impossible to change attached desks before the expiration of persisting period?
A. Yes. Following the Administration Law of Public Property, materials like desks and sofas cannot be changed before persisting period is expired. Even after sustaining period is expired, if they are in a good condition, materials do not get changed.
Q. What is the specific changing plan?
A. In this year, budget that is allocated to material is about 22.1 million won. From this budget, three million won should be paid for changing boards. About 19 million won is available, which can change about 90 or 100 attached desks. In this winter vacation, preferentially 65 attached desks will be replaced to ordinary detached desks and chairs.
To change all of 700 attached desks, it takes about 130 million won. However, as I mentioned, our available budget in this year is only 19 million won. Next year’s budget will be same as this year. Thus, we can expect that it will take about seven years to change all of attached desk. There is nothing we can do because it is a budget problem. Recently Seoul Metropolitan Government’s total budget was curtailed, and so is budget of UOS.
Q. There are some broken chairs in lecture theatre in General Lecture and Law Institute. Does Office of Academic Affair have a plan to change these?
A. We already recognize that problem. Actually, we made an estimate for fixing these broken chairs, but fixing cost was almost the same as repurchasing cost. Therefore, we plan to make estimate for purchasing them again in winter vacation extensively. Problems about desks and chairs are hard to handle during the semester because students have to use lecture room.
Q. Is inspection of desks and chairs performed regularly or every time when complains are reported?
A. Every month we get official documents on the condition of materials from assistants of each department or school. Lastly, Lim said, “Problems about these materials are related to budget. We know how students are uncomfortable but it is hard to fix them immediately.”
Till now The UOS Times figured out a capacity for improvement. Generally problems about facilities are related to budget problem. Because of the recent Seoul Metropolitan Government's policy which reduced budget and half-tuition, students of UOS experience inconvenience on facilities. Especially regarding attached desks, concerning section of school office, Office of Academic Affairs also wants to replace them as quickly as possible, but budget is absurdly insufficient to change whole attached desks at once; it will take time. When it comes to the heating problem, problems are more complicated than what students anticipated. There are lots of things to consider including deterioration of each building, insulation of walls, and windows. It is not simple like just installing stronger heaters.
Nevertheless, university deserves to be blamed for not inspecting drawbacks and present remedy immediately. They should pay more attention to voices of students. The conditions of facilities are directly related to students’ performances in class, for poor chairs, desks, projectors, or heating and cooling systems directly influences concentration of students and quality of lectures. In this sense, a comprehensive section handling facility problem as a whole is necessary for some disappointed students to easily call and suggest directly. Currently, the fragmented sections seem incapable of converging complaints of students.
Of course, budget and school’s role are not the only cause of the inadequacy of facilities. Students themselves have to use facilities with more ownership and responsibility. Of course the best solution would be changing all of dysfunctional facilities whenever complains are reported, but it is impracticable right now. As an alternative, we, students, should use facilities as they are ours. We are not just users. All of facilities will be left to our juniors. More than that, if students use facilities carefully then next students who use them can also use fine facilities. Most importantly, when students use facilities more properly and responsibly, students will have more power to rightfully claim for necessities to university.