When I finished high school my dream was to study abroad. I found a way to realize my dream through Kangnam University. It gave me and countless other students the opportunity to realize our dreams of getting a quality education.
Before coming here I had been warned about the poor condition of the dormitories, but I did not care. I did not think something so insignificant could get in the way of my dreams. And for a time, it didn’t. But I’ve since realized the poor living conditions in 1st Shimjeon Hall (심전1관) are too great to ignore.
Students pay 632,000 won per semester, plus an additional 30,000 won as a safety deposit, to live in the dormitory. What have students gotten for this money?
Only a casual look at the air-conditioning systems would tell you they have not been cleaned in years nor have the filters. One international student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, had been free of asthma for 15 years before attending Kangnam University. After living in the old dormitory his asthma started again, which later developed into bronchitis. He has since withdrawn from the university but continues to take medication to this day.
Even if students are willing to risk their health to stay cool, the air-conditioning is centrally controlled. Students are at the mercy of dormitory administrators, whose control over the availability of air-conditioning is unreasonably strict. Although students understand the university’s, even the country’s, need to lower energy costs, patience wears thin when summer days are so hot it’s hard to even breathe.
The air-conditioning, unfortunately, is not the only thing that is wrong with the old dormitory. Many of the stairs in the emergency exits are crumbling. The communal bathrooms have showers with no showerheads. Mold grows on the walls and around the windows of the bathrooms. Rooms and hallways have sunken or deteriorating floors – some that have been repaired only with packing tape. Furniture so old, worn, and literally falling apart is a common site. Coin-operated washing machines frequently stop in the middle of their wash cycles. Even the building’s Wi-Fi doesn’t reach some rooms.
Students cannot help wondering what the 632,000 won they pay each semester goes toward. Some kind of clarification is required as students feel the price they pay to live in the dormitory is outrageous compared to what they get in return. Conditions in the dormitory are uncomfortable beyond reason and, in some extreme cases, even a danger to our health.
Why has there been such a lack of care for the students who live here? While our university requires us to attend chapel in order to teach us about how to live a good life, about what is moral and ethical, the condition of the dormitories feels like hypocrisy. Or does the university administration honestly think the conditions in the dormitory are acceptable? Would they allow their own children to live this way?
The frustrations expressed here are shared by an overwhelming majority of residents in 1st Shimjeon Hall. Are we asking for too much? Are we being unreasonable? We appreciate the cleaning ladies who work extremely hard. And, yes, the university has recently removed old carpeting from the hallways. But the basic problems stated above are simply intolerable. When will they be addressed? Students have a very simple question for the university administration. For the money students pay, is this the best we can do?