▲ Godaegonggamdae, KU’s 46th student council which contributed to curfew alleviation. Provided by Godaegonggamdae Facebook Page
No more huddling in front of the dormitories waiting for the doors to open at 5:00 A.M. The alleviation of curfew spells freedom for many Korea University (KU) students. However, the change comes with a condition; girls’ dormitories still have a curfew. Is this discrimination?
KU’s dormitory used to have a strict curfew in both new and old dormitories closing from 12:30 A.M. to 5:00 A.M. That was why those who used dormitories were often referred to as "Cinderella." However, as promised by the 46th Student Council, Godaegonggamdae, curfews were eliminated, except for girl’s dormitories, starting from September.
KU dormi tory curfews were only for Korean undergraduate students. Exchange students or graduate students were free to enter the dorm rooms anytime with their student ID card. This had been controversial to many students and they called for a reform about the school dormitory policy.
The curfew had initially been implemented due to safety concerns from school student’s parents. However, many students considered that sitting outside the dormitories until 5:00 A.M. because the dormitory gates have been shut off is much more dangerous. Son Chang Woo (’13, Russian Language and Literature) said that, "The curfew had limited our freedom. We graduated high school and no longer live at our homes, but we are not getting the freedom we are entitled to."
According to the Dormitory Service Team, 98 percent of complaints about the dormitory had been about the strict curfew. Students wanted a less strict curfew or wanted to get rid of the curfew once and for all. Their wish has been finally granted after a long period of protesting. However, the Dormitory Service Team was sensitive about the use of the word "elimination" for dormitory curfews. They say that "Dormitory curfew has not been eliminated. It has been alleviated. We want to make that clear."
The process of alleviating the curfew has been rigorous. Godaegonggamdae conducted surveys on all 2,000 students residing in dormitories and asked about KU’s curfew. This was to show that the KU students agree with the student council’s actions to eliminate curfew. The results were obvious. A majority of students favored elimination of curfews and the student council was able to take action.
How the Change Has Been
Voice of satisfaction was heard from students when they heard that the curfew was going to be lengthened. The student council has said that they were happy to hear that students were excited about the change made to dormitory curfews. Now KU is not one of the universities that have a strict curfew anymore. Yoon Tae In (’12, Mechanical Engineering) stated approvingly that, "I am extremely satisfied with the change made to our dormitory curfews. Now I do not have to worry about being locked out of my dorm room and finding some place to sleep in Anam."
The problem here is that curfews were promised to be eased in both girls’ and boys’ dormitories. A few days before the change was implemented, the student union decided that girls’ dormitories should have curfews after all. Thus, girls’ dormitories have a curfew from 2:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M, which is an hour and a half later than the initial curfew time. The vast majority of students expressed disapproval towards this addition made to only female students. Kong Yoo Jin (’13, Foreign Language and Literature) has said that, "Though the school says that it is because of the recent incident of the Pusan National University, the situation is different for KU. We have more guards and our dormitory is much more restricted. I do not understand why only girls have a curfew."
Moreover, the penalty point system had been strengthened in place of alleviating the curfew, which means less freedom for students. The penalty point system is implemented in dormitories where students receive penalty points that accumulate for wrongdoings such as bringing in people who do not live in the dormitory, eating in dormitories, and such. The penalty point system used to be 25 points until being expelled from the dormitories. Now, the expulsion line has been lowered to seven points, which means that it has become much easier to be kicked out. Students have to be more careful than before.
Students are protesting that the curfew policy has not gone in the direction that they expected. It took long enough for the curfew itself to be alleviated but now students are enraged that the female students still have to go through the ordeal again.
The school has promised that curfews for girls’ dormitories will be gradually lessened but many fear that it will not happen anytime soon. Kim Na Kyeong (’12, Psychology) has voiced her concern by saying that, "I have a feeling that the school will forget about eradicating girl’s curfew because it is not important for them and the current student council will have moved out by then. The curfew might remain forever as 2:00 A.M. for us."
With all these problems aside, a change in the dormitory curfew system is regarded positively as it increases student’s freedom and respects their ability to be responsible of their choices. University students are considered nearly adults and they should be given trust for their whereabouts during the night. KU dorms loosening its harsh curfews is considered a step towards understanding the students’ point of view.
▲ KU Frontier Dormitory. Photographed by Kang Hyun Ji