Along with various problems such as the irrational course registration system, lack of reading rooms has always been a chronic problem of Korea University (KU) that infringed on educational rights of many. During every exam period, KU students can easily spy large reading rooms in Central Plaza milling with a sizable crowd of students. Having nowhere to go, they are then forced to head to a nearby café and pay for expensive drinks to study. However, with the new D-Lounge at Centennial Memorial Samsung Hall (CMSH) having been opened to students, the shortage problem should become an issue of the past.
On February 1, the opening ceremony for D-Lounge was held in CMSH. With 69 seats in the study zone, 29 seats in the laptop zone, and four group study rooms, many foresaw that the new lounge would help protect the educational rights of KU students. In the study zone, every seat is furnished with electrical outlets and individual adjustable desk lights. At the center of the newly-built lounge, a glass wall surrounding the laptop zone dampens typing noises that may distract students in the study zone. Finally, the discussion zone consists of four study rooms that are equipped with projector screens and large monitors to help KU students collaborate on group assignments.
What differentiates D-Lounge from other study rooms in KU are the so-called 3Ds. According to KU Library, the 3Ds stand for “daily,” “deep,” and “DIY.” The first term refers to D-Lounge’s decision to eschew the previous four-hour system in which students had to extend their seats every four hours and adopt the 24/7 booking system, alleviating students of that particular burden. “Deep” means that, by providing comfortable facility, D-Lounge fosters an atmosphere where one can be immersed in their studies. Finally, KU Library explained that DIY stands for “Do It Yourself,” since D-Lounge allows students to personalize their reading rooms. However, Choi Sung Hoon (’16, Business Administration), Head of the Division of Housing and Welfare of KU Student Union (KUSU), stated that the concept of DIY could encourage students to monopolize certain seats by excessively personalizing them.
Last year, CJ Creator Library (CCL) replaced a large study room in the Central Plaza. Although CCL was pitched as an unprecedented innovation, it could not escape the criticism that the replacement of a large reading room with a spacious creator hall meant a drastic decrease in area for studying. Fortunately, D-Lounge replaced a facility that was much less coveted. The Multimedia Production Lab (MPL) located on the first floor of CMSH suffered from crippling problems such as out-of-date equipment. “Although the MPL was built in 2005, its equipment was not properly replaced, which rather rendered it to be a nuisance,” Choi elaborated.
It must be acknowledged that creating larger study rooms indeed can be a better way to alleviate the current shortage problem; Choi, however, answered that students seldom used these rooms as much as the administration expected. Rather, surveys revealed that KU students were eager for comfortable lounges such as C-Lounge. As a result, MPL was demolished and was transformed into the new D-lounge.
President Yeom Jae-ho has been trying to innovate university education by introducing novel buildings such as SK Future Hall or CCL. Even though, thanks to President Yeom’s efforts, KU is leading the future of education in Korea, it is simultaneously plagued with basic problems such as lack of lecture halls and study rooms. In this respect, D-Lounge seems to strike a reasonable balance between President Yeom’s ambition and students’ needs, in that the new lounge can satisfy both needs at the same time—foster a futuristic education environment and solve the study room shortage problem.