Controversies from Face-to-Face Events

정소연, 최은지, 김서현, 전준형l승인2022.05.12l수정2022.05.12 13:47l394호 1면

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   Recently, a lot of student councils held face-to-face events after Dankook University (DKU) decided to return to teaching in-person classes. The campuses were reenergized as a number of Dankookians (Students of DKU) took part in these school events. However, they were not without controversy. This is because people gathering for various events will inevitably lead to a greater risk of COVID-19 infection. 

▲ Dankookians Participating in Face-to-Face Events (Photo from The Dankook Herald)

   As in-person classes resumed in March, diverse face-to-face events were held. At the beginning of this semester, parties hosted by various departments, sports competitions by the College of Social Sciences, a freshmen sports competition, and the ‘Sunrise Festival’ of the college of Business and Economics were held. Each beginning of the semester party is an event that marks the start of the new term for each department. They provide Dankookians with information associated with school life such as student union fees, department jackets, locker registration, etc. and also help students feel a sense of unity. The sports competition of the College of Social Sciences was held from March 29 to 31. The participants competed in a variety of events such as futsal, basketball, foot volleyball for boys and kickball and dodgeball for girls. On the last day of the competition, male and female Dankookians joined together for a tug-of-war, flipping cards, charades, and relay races. The College of Business and Economics also hosted a sports competition for all university freshmen. The Department of Business Administration took first place, followed by the Department of Economics, International Trade, and Accounting. After the competition, the ‘Sunrise Festival’ took place with various performances. These face-to-face events imparted Dankookians, who are exhausted from the COVID-19 crisis, with great energy and vigor. However, in the process of holding these events, some controversy arose around the after-parties.

   Overall, Dankookians were ambivalent on this issue. Some Dankookians favored the after-party occasions citing the need for students to enjoy face-to-face events due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, and those who opposed it, considering the rapidly increasing number of confirmed cases. They were suspicious about the effectiveness of their social distancing policies. However, there were no legal problems with the event as the student council said it had received conditional permission from the ward office in Suji-gu. Several complaints about after-party related to the College of Business and Economics ‘Sunrise Festival’ were raised through a college student community discussion board on the online community, Everytime. Complaints centered around the number of people attending that were officially reported to the school, the details of the event reported to the school, and the plan to control the number of people in attendance by the student council. Those complaints peaked along with the worsened situation of COVID-19 and the increased number of confirmed cases.

▲ The anonymous Dankookian made a request concerning the after-party event to the student council. (Photo from Everytime)

   Dankookians who expressed their opposition to the event complained it might violate quarantine rules and questioned what would happen if a confirmed case resulted from the festival. Would the college of Business and Economics have to take responsibility and would it also cause setbacks for the return of other college events? It was pointed out that even if an after-party is held separately by each department, there will be more than six people in one area, and this is clearly a violation of the quarantine rules and can, in a worst case scenario, lead to a cluster infection. They also complained that containing the number of people only when using the group-use facility is prohibited in principle. There is no point in containment if students will gather in groups elsewhere. A student made inquiries about whether it is possible to proceed with an after-party event with the ward office in Suji-gu. However, the town office could not confirm whether the student council had received permission, and therefore, the event could not be held because it was a violation of quarantine regulations to hold an after-party event outside a targeted venue. In the end, the student council canceled the after-party, but the same problems may arise again as quarantine rules are further relaxed. 

   The student council said there were three main reasons for the after-party cancellation. The first is the difference between government regulations and private gatherings surrounding the festival. In the case of private gatherings, as stipulated by the government, there was a limit of up to six people, and all meetings except business meetings fall under the category of private gatherings. An after-party event is also defined as a private gathering, which would violate quarantine rules if attended by all students. The second reason it was canceled was related to the definition of private gatherings. Meetings and meals before and after gatherings were all defined as private meetings, so even if a table is limited to six people, drinking, and eating after dinner is clearly a violation of private gatherings. Lastly, the student council canceled the after-party due to the anxiety that it might cause regarding infecting other college department students. It would look badly if a festival after-party hosted by the Business and Economics department was responsible for triggering an outbreak in other departments on campus. 

   A recent survey showed that 73.7% of Dankookians held a positive opinion about face-to-face events. Only 26.3% of Dankookians worried about them. This means that almost 3 times more Dankookians want face-to-face events. They want to be able to socialize with their friends at events. However, those Dankookians that were worried about an increase in face-to-face events think they are dangerous and it would be hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They believe it is premature to hold face-to-face events. Some Dankookians only have online classes and find it difficult to participate in university events. Also, other Dankookians worried if we took part in too many face-to-face events, the absence with leave system would become meaningless. However, Dankookians who think positively about face-to-face events want more planned.

   There are differences in opinion about the hosting of face-to-face events among Dankookians. Some want to build friendships with other students, and the others said the student council and DKU should take a cautious approach to plan these events. Organizers need to be aware of the opinions of both sides and take their suggestions and comments into consideration when planning future activities. Similar controversies can erupt as face-to-face events continue, so organizers should include permission from DKU and local governments as a sound basis for prior permission. With all this taken into account, students can hopefully see a return to more face-to-face events soon.


정소연, 최은지, 김서현, 전준형  dankookherald@gmail.com
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