In 2018, communication was a big problem at Dankook University (DKU). According to a Dankook Media Center (DMC) survey, many Dankookians (students of DKU) wanted DKU to be more communicative with the student body. When asked specifically what they wanted to see in 2019, 59 percent responded they wanted to the see improved student welfare, while institutional improvement was the next highest priority. In response to the needs of our student body, the Dankook Herald (DKH) chose ‘Communication at DKU’ as DMC’s 2018-2019 integrated coverage project. In ‘Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019’, the DKH interviewed administration and students to see how best to achieve student hopes for a more communicative DKU.
1. School matters most sensitive to Dankookians
- The system of excused absences
Some Dankookians were unclear about the system of excused absences at our school, especially our international students. The DKH interviewed the head of the college team, Nam Myoung-woo to help our readers better understand how it all works.
Q) We have heard that the system of excused absences is very complicated. What are some ways you are working to simplify the process?
A) The current system is very complicated with students having to hand in papers in different places depending on their circumstances. However, this online reporting system was developed to prevent people from getting marked present when they are not. The university put a lot of effort into its development and tried to take into account the needs of the students. That said, if there are ways to improve the system, the university would be happy to consider them.
- The course repetition system
Q) The course repetition system allows students to get a maximum score of B+ if they are repeating the subject. Some believe that this ceiling should be higher. What are some measures the school can take?
A) Our school has a very strict policy for course repetition, which helps students receive fair grades and avoids grade inflation. But since our standard has been tougher than other schools, our students were disadvantaged when trying to get a job. So, this year system has been changed. The maximum score the students can get has increased from a B+ to an A and the first grade will be deleted from their transcript. More information is available on the Portal website.
- Exchange with foreign students
Many students also responded that they felt that the number of international students was increasing, but opportunities for exchanges and interactions with Korean students were lacking. The DKH interviewed Chang Ji-hoon of the Office of International Affairs.
Q) A survey conducted by the DMC says that there is not enough interaction between foreign students and Korean students. What do you think about this?
A) There are many programs for students to improve their global communication skills like becoming an exchange student, taking part in a language study abroad program, international internships etc. all conducted by the Office of International Affairs. Also, there are some programs that are good for interacting with exchange students without having to go overseas, like tutoring foreign students or participating in the Global English Village program that is open during the summer or winter vacation periods. There are many other programs operated by the International Students’ Association that students can participate in. However, it is clear that students do not know about these programs, so the university will look to new ways to advertise and develop new and existing programs each year for the students.
2. Dankookians' fixed questions: Using school facilities
- Opening of the library at dawn
The most popular question about school facilities was why all the doors in the library are not open at dawn. We interviewed the head of the Toegye Library, Lee Myung-hee.
Q) Which doors in the library are open early in the morning and why aren’t all the doors open?
A) Doors to the library are located on the first floor and there are two gates on the second floor, and one door on the third. During the early morning hours, the first and second floors are completely closed and only the third floor door is open because there is only one security guard working. It is difficult to police the facility with only one security staff member working. There is concern that homeless people or even criminals could enter the library, escaping the vigilance of the security guard, if all the doors were open. Since the safety of our students is paramount, not all library doors are open during the early morning hours.
- Club room hours of operation
In the 2018 DMC survey, Dankookians also expressed their curiosity about the hours of operation for club rooms. To find out more, we interviewed staff working in the Student Affairs office.
Q) Can you explain why club rooms close at 11 p.m.?
A) Many students want the operating hours to be extended, but accidents can occur if the club room is open later. Therefore, to prevent such accidents, the club rooms are closed after 11p.m. However Student Affairs will open a club room after 11 p.m. for groups requiring additional practice time, such as a dance or calligraphy club, provided they apply for the extension in advance.
3. Need to improve the structure of communications between schools
- Multiple Degree System, interview with the Division of Students
Last December, the campus was abuzz with reaction to the school's announcement that they would be adopting a Multiple Degree System together with other universities in the Seoul-Incheon area. The DKH interviewed a representative of the Student Affairs team about the incident, to find out ways to promote improved communication between the schools and students in the future.
Q: There was a huge backlash against the school because of its unilateral progression towards a Multiple Degree System. What has happened since the President first issued the official paper?
A: Incheon National University, who was the main advocate for the Seoul-Incheon area's Multiple Degree System, experienced a huge show of resistance from their students. Other universities, who were originally meant to join the convention for a Multiple Degree System, experienced the same student rebellions and opted instead to cancel and withdrew their participation. Dankook was one of those universities. Soon after, the President of DKU released an official policy document to the students confirming all plans for a Multiple Degree System were being dropped.
Q: What plans does DKU have to account for opinions of Dankookians about any new form of school system?
A: We will make sure that the school will account for the opinions of Dankookians. The first step to achieving this goal is to improve communications with the Student Council. We feel particularly sorry to Dankookians for this Multiple Degree System situation and promise that we will never ignore the input of students with regards to any future matters related to the academic system of DKU.
- Student Council election
In 2018, there were some controversies regarding Student Council elections. Because of these problems, the Jukjeon Campus only had their Student Council in operation by January 10. The DKH interviewed the Student Council NangMan and the 2019 Central Election Commission (CEC).
Q) Not having specific regulations about elections was the main reason for the 2019 Student Council election problems. Do you have any thoughts about this?
Student Council) Every year, the regulations are revised, but there were imperfect parts. We talked with the General Assembly president. We are planning to work with the Central Election Management Committee and the General Assembly to minimize problems arising from the revised regulations. By discussing needed or necessary regulations with each college president or chairperson who is experienced in direct elections, specific regulations can be built and arranged.
CEC) We agree. In this election, because the regulations were not detailed, each candidate and person understood them differently and problems arose from this misunderstanding. So, we will revise the regulations completely. We have been discussing this with the Division of Students since the winter vacation began and will talk with professors from the Department of Law to see how best to proceed.
Q) Students thought their opinions were not fully appreciated with regards to the 2019 Student Council election. Do you have any plans to gather input from the students better than you did in 2018?
Student Council) We are planning to broaden our communications. We are going to run a Student Council Instagram page and will open the Student Council board meetings to everyone so that Dankookians can have a chance to offer up their opinions more easily. Every opinion will be discussed in the meeting and we will share their comments with the general assembly, so that their concerns could be applied in the election.
CEC) We will talk with the Student Council, election candidates and each college student council board of representative to better understand what is causing inconvenience and what could be done to improve things. After our discussions, we will seek out opinions of the 2019 elections. If possible, the General Assembly will make a survey, so that we can gather and reflect on the opinions of Dankookians too.
According to these interviews, there are many plans and solutions underway to help achieve student hopes of better communication in the future. Quick responses to problems that arise are important, but listening to students beforehand goes a long way in preventing problems from developing in the first place. Let’s hope 2019 shows signs of improved communications between all invested parties, so that our dream of enhancing student welfare can become a reality.
김동은, 김도현, 남윤경, 신지희 email@example.com