After entering university, we are often forced to participate in unwanted events. In the past, it was common practice to attend program events in the Departments of Arts and Physical Education. However, most other departments are now requiring students to attend their events too. Annually, problems regarding mandatory participation in unwanted events, are in the news. A recent controversy on the internet exposed a Kakao Talk series ofexchanges where students were being told they would have to pay a fine for the missing event that was greater to the fee it cost to participate. What is the reason behind the coercive attendance methods for these departmental activities?
The second semester of our freshmen has just begun, and we can easily find students who joined a school club or extramural activities for their second term. However, while a lack of information makes students hard to join a school club, the main problem is coercive department activities. Many students are told not to join the school clubs by their department's student union or by their seniors. Instead, freshmen are encouraged to concentrate on their department and major. It is true that departmental activities, friendships including senior-juniorrelationships, and unity are really important, but university life is totally different from high school because students can take charge of their own life. However, students who don’t participate in departmental activities often face discrimination, but is this truly fair?
Most academic activities are hosted by the student union of each college, so what do they think about these coerced academic activities? The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Kim Paran-haneul who is the President of the Student Union for the College of Arts at the Cheonan Campus to listen to her opinion on academic activities. “The College of Arts characteristically has a lot of work activities and exhibitions for each student, so our students spend a lot of time doing that. I think this is the reason why students have difficulty taking part in other academic activities. However, it’s open to them to decide whether or not they wish to participate in other outside events,” she said.
DKH also interviewed the student union for the College of Music at the Jukjeon Campus. The College of Music is known for its active department life. We asked what they believed was the reason that students were stressed about participating in departmental activities. “We need unity because of the character of our department. In the case of the chorus or orchestra for example, each students is a member of the group. They function as a unit. Therefore, it interrupts the progress of other students if one student absent. To prevent this, we try to regulate student autonomy and I think this stresses our students.” she banswered. Next we asked what kind of events were unavoidable for students and why. “We
usually suggest they participate in all events, but it is not compulsory. However, I think it is good etiquette to attend a professor’s recital, because students have lessons with professors once a week and share some emotional empathy with each other,” she added. We also asked whether students participate in large
numbers when they are not coerced to be there. “This depends on the students. There are some students who have a high attendance rate without coercion, but there are also many students who never participate even if we persuade them a lot.” We also asked whether there was any discrimination against students who didn’t actively take part. “There’s no discrimination. Students who didn’t pay the student union fee or didn’t participaten in school events also get along with us.
However, it is possible that they feel alienated from the department because they
have no chance of becoming familiar with others at departmental events,” she answered. In the end, she said the best way to improve student participation is through their own will and not by coercion. “Freshmen should be brave and not be afraid to be closer with seniors, and it would be better if seniors could become more familiar with departmental freshmen. I think the department life would be more harmonious if we were more considerate of each other” she said and finished interview.
DKH also interviewed a Jukjeon Campus student who majors in the Dept. of Music. DKH asked her thoughts about participating in departmental events. She answered, “Participation in departmental events is necessary to make affiliations in our communal setting. However it is not good that I have little free time in my private life.” Next, we asked about the disadvantages from being absent from a departmental event. “Our seniors constantly urge us to participate in events unless we have unavoidable circumstances,” she said. “There are celebration for the opening of a semester, performances of professors, and song recitals. As we are students of the music department, most of them are performances,” she added.
Lastly we asked her about life in her department and she said, “When I was a freshman, it was a lot of pressure for me to always attend these events. However, the burden has since been reduced. I realize it is important to participate on a voluntary basis rather than be coerced. In order to participate in good performances which are well prepared, it is important that students have an attitude to participate spontaneously.” she added.
|▲ Are you forced to academic activity?|
DKH found out what the student union of the College of Music and the College of Arts think about academic activities. Both Colleges are known for forcing activities on their students.
However, this is not the only problem for both Colleges. Seniors put emotional pressure on juniors who do not actively participate in academic activities and press them to do so. Forcing them to drink is also one of the reasons that students are against participating in academic activities. If the student union wants students to join in on academic activities more aggressively, they should create other activities that do not disturb the personal time of students, so that they can be free to join whenever they choose.
Freedom is a word that symbolizes the university student. They have to figure out what they want to do, decide, choose, and act on their own. University students should get a toehold on their future by considering that participating in academic activities is really important and decide what these events really mean to us.