- Exploring the background and controversies of UIC’s relocation to Daewoo Annex Hall
|PHOTOGRAPHED BY KO EUN-BIY|
ON OCT. 15, the school finished reconstructing the Daewoo Annex Hall, which began in July, in order to make it into a new nest of the Underwood International College (UIC). The faculty members are expected to move into the new building at the end of the year. By the beginning of next semester in March 2018, entire UIC classes and student entities will have moved into the building.
With the relocation, UIC has finally secured an independent building for the first time, ever since it gained its status as a college in 2007. Until this semester, the lecture rooms and professors’ offices were scattered around campus, mainly in the New Millennium Hall (NMH), Theology Hall, and the Baekyang Hall.
However, the process entailed various problems that sparked controversies regarding miscommunication among students, the UIC student council, and the UIC office. Not only that, these entities had disagreements about renaming the Daewoo Annex Hall and distributing spaces within the new building. Thus, on Sept. 8, the UIC office organized a public hearing session concerning the relocation, responding to students’ queries.
Why move? Growing student body and the need for better facilities
The relocation of UIC has to do with the recent rearrangement of the colleges within the Daewoo Hall and the Daewoo Annex Hall. In 2015, the School of Business departed from the two buildings, where it had been sharing the buildings with the College of Commerce & Economics. After its relocation, a part of the College of Commerce & Economics that used to be in the Daewoo Annex Hall moved into the Daewoo Hall, which meant that the Annex Hall became vacant. After a great deal of discussion, the Office of Planning & Management team decided to allocate this space to UIC. “Regarding the building move, various factors were considered,” said Chung Jin-bae (Prof., Dept. of Chinese Language & Lit.), the dean of UIC, at the public hearing session.
The biggest reason for the relocation is that the number of students and faculty members of UIC has been continuously increasing. According to the statistics provided by the Office of Academic Affairs, the UIC community has grown from 846 (2016) to 891 students (2017) in a single year. In order to accommodate this rapidly growing community, the university had to acquire more space for the college.
Not only that, the NMH has become quite overcrowded during the past years. The Graduate School of Information Technology, which shares the NMH with UIC, recently increased its number of students from 45 to 62, and therefore requires more than one floor to accommodate its population. Moreover, Global Leadership Division (GLD) also entreated for more office space in the NMH, thereby limiting the space for UIC in the building. This meant that UIC needed a greater space.
The school hopes to provide an opportunity for UIC students and faculty members to gather and bond by giving them an exclusive building. This will strengthen the UIC identity as a whole. “I think having a building just for the college will immensely help with the students to bond,” said Kim Hae-ri (Fresh., UIC, Hass Div.). “As UIC is getting bigger it is important to establish a sense of community as well as to bond within the college. The relocation will definitely help us to do that.”
Also, the inadequate facilities in the NMH contributed to the decision to move. In fact, the interior condition of the NMH is pretty unfavorable. “My ceiling suddenly collapsed, and my room got flooded,” said Paul Tonks (Prof., UIC). “The best thing about the relocation for me is that I will have a bigger room and I would not have to worry about my room getting flooded,” he added. There are numerous cracks on the walls and ceilings of the semi-basement where UIC professors’ offices are located. Moreover, many professors experienced their ceilings falling, and their rooms getting flooded. Relocation to the Daewoo Annex Hall will surely provide the professors as well as the students with a safer, and a more pleasant environment.
Critics say the space allocation was not fair
Most professors seem to welcome their move to the new nest. Until now, UIC professors were located in different buildings on campus, which made the communication process among themselves and with the school particularly harder. “Having a space that is more clearly defined, or has a particular identity ... principally, it will be better for UIC,” said Professor Tonks. By gathering all members of UIC into one building, the relocation will undoubtedly strengthen their bond. In addition, UIC will be closer to the center of the campus if it moves to the Daewoo Annex Hall, giving more opportunity for the college to “exchange with other Yonsei students, linguistically and geographically,” said Dean Chung.
On the other hand, “some UIC students complain that they are sharing the two floors of the new building with other entities,” said Professor Tonks. The current floor plan suggests that half the space on the fourth floor will be shared with the Dept. of Applied Statistics and the graduate program in Business Admin. The entire fifth floor is reserved for students studying for the public administration examinations. However, since there is limited space on campus, some schools inevitably have to share the space. “When there are already existing departments, colleges, buildings, of course, there are limitations to the space,” said Professor Tonks.
Even if UIC students share some of the floors with other departments, the building can accommodate everyone. Since UIC is situated in Yonsei International Campus (YIC), the college has its independent building, Veritas Hall B, in Songdo. Approximately 2/3 of UIC students are based in YIC while the remaining students take their lectures in Sinchon.
But some are still worried that there will not be enough space, as some of the departments and colleges in the building are expanding and increasing in their number of students. To accommodate UIC members and other entities, it is imperative for the school to divide the space fairly.
In fact, such space allocation was initially ineffective in fully responding to the student demand. “The previous floor plan failed to accommodate the whole UIC community,” said the UIC Student Council (StuCo) Solidity. According to the previous floor plan, the students’ spaces within the building did increase, but despite such change, the space for students’ self-study rooms lessened by 13 pyeong (13.65 m^2), from 49.2 (162.61m^2) to 36.1 (119.44 m^2) pyeong.
It was only after student representatives constantly asserted the space shortage of the study rooms, that UIC Office discarded the original plan to allocate the space as “common faculty room.” Instead, it promised to allocate 21 pyeong (69.28 m^2) of the second floor as the studying area. This new floor plan gave 20.9 (69 m^2) more pyeong to students’ self-study rooms than the previous floor plan, increasing the space from 49.2 (162.61 m^2) to 57.09 (188.72 m^2) pyeong. The UIC StuCo further commented, “It is true that among all the changes in UIC, only students’ spaces were not taken into deep consideration during the relocation process,” expressing its frustration towards the UIC Office.
Critics also say that the administration could have done a better job communicating with the students, while others argue that it was not the school’s intention. “I don’t think there was an intentional problem there. I think that the administration, the college leadership presumably wishes to have the best outcomes. But I believe in the idea that students should be informed about things, and have input and so forth,” said Professor Tonks. He believes that the lack of communication from the school was never an intentional attitude.
Dean Chung also emphasized that the school tried to discuss this matter with the students. “Although the discussion of the relocation started in March, because of budget problems, we were not sure (of the relocation) until the end of June … After signing contract (June 2017) we wanted to hold a hearing, but that was during finals week. So we scheduled it after the beginning of the semester, in September,” he said.
He also asserted that the Student Council is partly to blame. In the second meeting with the UIC StuCo, he claimed, “the previous UIC Student Council did not inform the current StuCo about the issue very well, which partly led to the current miscommunication.” Professor Tonks further commented, “I support maximizing the communication, and it is always good to communicate and have feedbacks. Then, you will hopefully avoid the misunderstandings ─ the miscommunication,” stressing the importance of constant effort to communicate and contact.
However, the UIC StuCo questions whether or not the school made its utmost effort to communicate with the student body. “There was little prior communication with the student body,” said the UIC StuCo. It claimed that the relocation was the dean’s unilateral decision. Last year, Kim Young-bin, the former president of the UIC StuCo, sat in the negotiation table with the UIC office. Yet Kim denies that he agreed upon the relocation.
The dissension between the school and the UIC student body escalated when the UIC office argued that the fact that Kim was on the negotiation table was an implicit consent. As a response, the UIC StuCo posted a handwritten petition statement to point out how the relocation process did not reflect the students’ opinions. On Oct. 12, the Joint Statement of Student Representatives on Relocation of UIC Building was posted in front of the Central Library, Student Union Building, and New Millennium Hall (NMH). As of 3 p.m. Oct. 13, the petition was signed by a total of 32 units and 462 individuals. By posting the statement, the UIC StuCo strives to present its criticism to a wider audience and hopes to prevent similar problems in the future.
While people’s opinions differ greatly, the central controversies seem to point at a single problem: insufficient communication between the students and the school. The school and the UIC StuCo are working for a solution as they are continuously holding meetings to keep in track of the relocation process, highlighting the UIC office’s effort to include all members in the relocation process.
Naming the new nest
The initial proposal by the UIC StuCo to rename the Daewoo Annex Hall into International Hall was rejected. This is because the Daewoo Annex Hall was built with the funds donated by the Daewoo Group. The two parties compromised to create another name to represent the identity of UIC, keeping “Daewoo” in the name. "It initially appeared that the UIC office did not have the intention to negotiate to its fullest power. However, changing the name of the building seemed *very* negotiable as the office immediately changed its stance on this matter when the students became infuriated,” said the UIC StuCo.
At the beginning of this semester, the UIC proceeded with a public contest and survey to rename the Daewoo Annex Hall. Several names were suggested by the students, with the name that have earned the most votes being “Daewoo International Hall.”
The president of the UIC StuCo, Kim Min-suk (Jr., UIC, Political Science and Int’l Relations), attended the UIC Steering Committee and presented the newly-suggested names. The committee prudently overviewed the names and agreed to take on the students’ request of renaming the disputed building as the Daewoo International Hall. In October, the UIC Office sent an official document concerning the renaming of the Daewoo Annex Hall to Daewoo International Hall to the school’s planning office.
The planning office will proceed with another committee meeting regarding the naming process in November. If the name gets accepted in this committee, it will then be introduced in the board meeting. The Daewoo Annex Hall will be renamed as Daewoo International Hall only if this decision is accepted by the board members of Yonsei.
Voices from different departments
Like the Daewoo Hall is entitled as the College of Commerce and Economics and the Oesol and the Widang Hall are called the College of Liberal Arts, the Daewoo Annex Hall will be dubbed as the “UIC.” With a new home, UIC will reinforce its identity and bolster its presence on campus.
Nevertheless, quite surprisingly, there are departments in Yonsei that still do not possess their own independent building, namely the Global Leadership Division (GLD) and the College of Life Science & Biotech. Since UIC will be relocated to an independent building this coming December, students from these respective departments also sincerely hope to strengthen their identities and expand student areas with their own independent buildings.
Founded in March 2015, the GLD does not have its own building. GLD students take classes in different buildings such as the New Millennium Hall (NMH) and Daewoo Hall. Therefore, students encounter inconveniences when moving between classes. “Wherever I go, there is always a boisterous crowd blocking my way. This especially annoys me when I am late for class. And it is really bothersome that our student lounge is located in Stimson Hall, far away from the buildings where we take lectures,” said Lee Hyun-jin (Jr., Global Leadership Div.).
Moreover, the College of Life Science & Biotechnology, established in 2008, also lacks an independent building, because their departments came from other colleges. There are three departments in this college: Systems Biology, Biochemistry, and Biotechnology. The Department of Biotechnology was formerly part of the College of Engineering, whereas the Department of Biochemistry was affiliated with the College of Science.
Therefore, students from these departments, although now part of the College of Life Science & Biotechnology, still take lectures in the buildings of College of Engineering and College of Science. “Most of the lectures for my major subjects are held in the Yonsei Engineering Research Center. However, other major courses for the College of Life Science & Biotechnology are conducted in the Science Hall. The travel time between the buildings is fairly short, yet it is still quite inconvenient,” said Jang Ye-ji (Jr., Dept. of Biotech.).
In fact, other colleges, chiefly the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Social Science experience lack of space within campus. The lectures of the College of Social Science are mostly held in Yeonhui Hall and Billingsley Hall. “There are approximately 2,500 students in the College of Social Science, yet the space we can use for seminars and schools clubs is limited to the basement of Yeonhui Hall. There is also little space for professors’ office,” said Lee Sae-ra (Jr., College of Communication), the president of the College of Social Science Student Council. Nevertheless, it is impossible to solve this space shortage by extending Yeonhui Hall, as it is a cultural property that cannot be renovated for a new building.
Concerning the limited space experienced by different departments within campus, it is perhaps impossible to dedicate a whole building to one entity. Having an independent building will possibly strengthen an identity, yet it is also crucial to consider other circumstances.
* * *
From the school year of 2018, UIC students will proudly call the Daewoo Annex Hall as their building. The renovation process was completed on Oct. 15 and the actual relocation process will commence in December. Although the space may not be sufficient to integrate all UIC members, this relocation indicates a milestone for the college’s history.
Kim Min-seo, Han Hee-ho firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
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