Students are not happy with the learning environment at Chonnam National University (CNU). They have expressed their discontent over dust and noise from construction sites on Yongbong campus, but no visible measures have been taken. Students also demanded to replace and update lecture room facilities. A post about uncomfortable desk-and-chair combos in classrooms registered as a hot post and grabbed the attention of one of the popular student online communities called “Everytime”. The Chonnam Tribune listened to opinions on learning environments from students and investigated the university’s current efforts to manage problems raised by students.
|▲ Construction for the new digital library that started last year is underway on Yongbong campus.|
Unpleasant Construction Dust and Noise
According to a recent report of the Division of Facilities Management (DFM), there are big and small ongoing constructions on Yongbong campus including the Digital Library. Those constructions aim to provide students a better and more comfortable learning environment. However, construction dust and noise rather causes inconvenience to students and sometimes even results in health problems. Jung Hee-su (Sophomore, Division of Animal Science) complained about the dust problem by saying, “I am suffering from rhinitis and the dust coming out from the construction areas inside the campus irritates my nose whenever I pass by.” Another student Jung Nan-hee (Sophomore, Dept. of Korean Language and Literature) said, “I am quite sensitive to sound, so different kinds of noises from the construction jarred me when I took a lecture in the College of Humanities 3 building, which is located right beside the Digital Library.”
Seo Suk-min, the manager of DFM remarked, “We have managed dust under the Clean Air Conservation Act and reported it in advance.” He added that the High-Pitched Vibration Law controls noise but the university does not have any obligation to reduce it, as the sound coming from the constructions inside the campus is not very loud. Even though nothing is against the law, this matter is still closely related to students’ health and learning environment. Additional management on dust and noise from the construction areas seem to be essential.
|▲ Desk-and-chair combos that students complain about because of discomfort|
Uncomfortable Desk-and-Chair Combo in Lecture Rooms
On the 2018 University Overall Satisfaction Survey, 4.7 percent of respondents said that there was a need for changing desks and chairs in lecture rooms. As students have complained on the online community, a chair attached to a desk caused dissatisfaction. Those chairs cannot be separated and make students feel uncomfortable. Kang Yeong-ju (Junior, Faculty of Business Administration) shared her hard experience of using this kind of desk, “Since I cannot move my desk and chair apart, I feel really uncomfortable and it even hurts my back when I sit on it for a long time.”
In interviews with each college staff member in charge, the Tribune reporter found that the number of desk-and-chair combos used by each department differs from each other. Some colleges including the College of Human Ecology had replaced the entire combos last winter and the College of Arts were also aware of the need to replace them, with only three lecture rooms left to use the student desk chairs. Still, there are many such desks left in the College of Social Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Science, about 43 percent and 33 percent respectively. Regarding the replacement plan, Park Jong-hee, the administrative manager of the College of Agriculture and Life Science said, “Desk replacement requires a lot of money from the budget but there is an insufficient college budget for now. However, we are also aware of the problem and are willing to sequentially replace them.”
|▲ Computer equipment used frequently in classes|
Outdated Computer Facilities
Unlike other classroom equipment, regular management and software updates are necessarily required for computer devices. However, many students have gone through an experience of having a hard time giving a presentation in class because of the software version matter. Yoon Se-young (Sophomore, Dept. of Landscape Architecture) said, “I had to give a presentation using PowerPoint in class but when I opened my file, the letters were all damaged since the low version of the program did not offer my font.”
It turned out that every college showed different management status. There were periodic updates for the departments that needed special programs such as the College of Agriculture and Life Science and the College of Arts. On the other hand, departments that do not require special programs often rely on updates by the Computing Center, which is regularly done twice a year. Jang Yun-jeong, the manager of the College of Social Science commented, “There are no other regular updates to the program other than what is offered by the Computing Center unless professors or students ask for the updates of a certain program.” Since the computers with the old version of the programs are still working, the managers in charge often forget the importance of updating software. However, as the un-updated computers can result in disrupting class, a periodic update is necessary for every lecture room.
Towards a Better Educational Environment
As fine dust in the air is a serious problem in Korea, people are becoming aware of the dust problems. Dust coming from the construction can be dangerous to students who suffer from lung diseases and even impair the immune function of our body. But CNU is only trying to do as the law says without any further effort to minimize noise and dust. The complacent attitude is also seen from the way the university copes with construction noises. Even though there was a major decline in the number of lecture rooms with desk-and-chair combos, there are still many colleges using them. As the chairs and desks are things that students use for hours, replacements should be steadily continued. In addition, if there is regular departmental management on computer program updates, students and professors will teach and learn in a more convenient educational environment.
Students’ right to study in a proper atmosphere without any annoying factors needs to be protected. Therefore, anything that violates this right should be considered seriously and needs to be improved. Even though there have been many efforts from CNU to create a better educational environment every year, there are more steps to be taken. The matters mentioned above are making students disgruntled in their daily campus life. The advanced educational environment will surely help students to have a good college life by providing a satisfying campus.
By Lee So-hyun, Student Editor
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