On November 21 2012, the Korea University Tennis Club (KUTC) captain, Nam Jam Woo (’12, Geography Education) was unilaterally notified that the one tennis court that was opened for students would be demolished by the end of upcoming March. For KUTC, this court has more significance, as the annual national tennis college competition would be held in upcoming May at Korea Univercity (KU).
▲ Photographed by Kang Hyun Ji
“Taking away the one court that was available to the students can be the first step of the school’s little regards for students welfare; the next step can be the basketball court and so on.” said Nam. It may not seem like a big problem to take away the tennis court that many students were not even aware of its existence. However, this sacalled unilateral attitude of the school is not the first time to be controversially discussed on campus.
Currently, there are four tennis courts in KU with two of which are used by the professors; one used by Physical education major students for their training and the other available for all the students in KU. The student tennis court is located behind the Asan Science building and is the largest among the four courts with four enclosed sets. The KUTC club room is also adjacent to the court and the students in the club have been practicing tennis in that very court for over half a century.
KUTC is KU’s official tennis club that has over 50 years of history. The club is always in open arms for students who want to learn tennis and yields excellent results among the colleges in Korea. Therefore, the largest college tennis match is annually held in KU with KUTC students proudly participating. The club has won several awards, including winning the second place in 2009. Nonetheless, KUTC does not know where to continue its legacy now.
“Without the court, our club is also doomed. We grew with KU, serving as the only club that welcomed any students who wanted to learn tennis. Without a court to practice, we honestly do not know what we are going to do.” said Nam. The school is planning to build a Hana Science Museum and destroy the court. The construction is planning to start late March or early April. There have been rumors about the demolishment but it was not until eight days before the groundbreaking ceremony, when KUTC was officially notified about the retraction.
After being brusquely notified, KUTC went on foot to take action. “We made placards all over the school, gave out fliers to the students right away [from November] to alert others about the injustice and unacceptable attitude of the school,” said Nam. The club also uploaded a desperate note in the Korea University Student Community (KUSC) to alert the students about this groundless action of the school. The placards can still be seen around campus and the fliers are situated in bathrooms and hallways of KU buildings.
KUTC also went to the president’s office for answers but came out empty-handed and full of disappointment. KUTC tried to negotiate with the school about using one of the three other courts in KU. “We thought that was the best option because we realized that the tennis court behind the International Studies Hall was often empty.” However, the school, apparently, was not very enthusiastic about the idea. “The school first said that it would ask the professors. A few days later, they told us that we had to ask the professors ourselves because the professors did not like to hear from the school,” said Nam. Although the attitude was not amiable, KUTC then, went to the professors to ask permission.
Unfortunately, the professors were also not welcoming. The professors replied that it was not the job of the students to ask them about the facilities but that the school administration should do that job themselves. “The debate of who needed to negotiate, went on and on for months. All our club wanted a simple approval but we had no power. We stood as the middle man,” bemoaned Nam.
After three months of struggle, nothing has changed. KU still did neither provide any alternatives for KUTC and many students who use the student tennis court nor actively compromise with the professors. Since KUTC members are still preparing for the annual college tennis match that will be held in spring, the club needs answers now.
With its long history and intimate relationship between the graduates and the current students, KUTC is planning to do more than just be a middle man for the school and the professors. When asked about the roles of the graduates in this fight, Nam answered that they visited often and financially supported the club to hand out fliers and make placards. “If the worse scenario occurs, and the school proceeds the construction without providing an alternative, we have no choice but to occupy and have a sit-down.”
▲ Photographed by Jeong Ji Hyun
When asked about the removal of the tennis court, KU Sport Facilities replied that the manager was out of town on a business trip and was not able to comment or answer the questions. While it is unusual for the Sport Facility manager to be “out of town” for a “business trip” when considering the number of managers available, the more outlandish fact was that the business trip apparently longer than a week.
The problem is more than just an abolishment of a tennis court. This uncooperative attitude of the school is likely to continue without the attention of the students. KUTC and the students are not asking much, just a basic responsible action that would secure student welfare. “Isn’t it logical and morally right to provide another option if the school is going to destroy the only one instead of ignoring the problem all together?” Nam exclaimed.