"Sexjong University"ㅡthis is the nickname that Sejong University is being called after some erotic photos of its students spread through the Internet. The photos were images of students at Sejong University’s Freshmen orientation, commonly known as “OT”, playing obscene games. In one photo, a top-less male student was holding a female by the legs and pressing her against the wall with his face up close to hers. In another photo, a female student was posing sexually in front of a seated male, as if she was trying to seduce him. The public was shocked to see that a university Freshmen orientation was conducted so improperly with sexual harassment.
Another example of a Freshmen orientation that provoked the public was when a Freshman attending a university in Gyeongi Province died after drinking excessively at the orientation in 2008. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of college students dying at university Freshmen orientations has persisted. There were three students who died in 2007 and 2008, and another two in 2009 and 2010. Such data shows that students sometimes drink liquor to fatal extremes at Freshmen orientations.
The public’s angry attitude towards the recent cases at Sejong University and the university in Gyeongi Province indicates that such Freshmen orientations are on the wrong track. Both examples show that some Freshmen orientations nowadays have critical problems such as playing obscene games and drinking excessively. College students are at the core of this issue and a solution is indispensable for the future leaders of the society.
The Truth Behind the Lies
Some universities’ Freshmen orientations like Sejong University’s are being judged to be inappropriate to college students in that the schedule of the orientation seem contradictive to its main purpose. College Freshmen orientations are mostly organized by each department’s student associations. The objective of opening a Freshmen orientation annually is to teach Freshmen the necessary knowledge and attitude for college. During Freshmen orientations, Seniors teach Freshmen the virtues of being a grownup such as responsibility, independence, proper understanding, and passion. In this sense, the programs in Freshmen orientations should allow the learning and teaching process go smoothly.
However, in the course of learning these “precious values,” promoting bond between students became most vital, which further encouraged the development of a drinking culture. “Each department competes against each other in Freshmen orientations to show off their original drinking cultures by unique games. The competition fires up to make bonding a more important goal than the actual purpose of the Freshmen orientation,” said Woo Yoon-sik, the student president of the College of Engineering.
Baeck Jae-hoon, a Sophomore majoring in Business Administration, further expressed how he felt about Freshmen orientations losing their founding grounds. “Freshmen orientations should genuinely teach Freshmen the basics of a fruitful college life. Instead, the drinking culture is getting way out of hands. Orientations are now saturated with liquor, which falsely teaches Freshmen what ‘seems’ to be the core of college life: drinking,” he said.
A survey conducted by Incruit, an employment portal site, shows how much Freshmen are terrified of university Freshmen orientations. Accordingly, 41.5 percent of the 328 students who answered, said that they do not see the participation in Freshmen orientations as mandatory. 82.4 percent of those who thought such a way answered that their stance is due to excessive drinking. Such data hints how much an inauthentic form of Freshmen orientations has been rooted in the society.
A Freshman majoring in Psychology at Sogang University who asked for anonymity, expressed her disappointment about her Freshmen orientation. “After studying hard during my Senior year in high school, I anticipated for a beautiful college life where I can unfold my dreams. The Freshmen orientation was supposed to be the start of that beautiful life. Instead, forced liquor crushed my expectation pretty harshly. I was quite devastated,” she said.
Freshmen Orientations Hanging Over a Cliff
Drinking has been proved to be one of the factors which may deteriorate the quality of Freshmen orientations. One of the problems of drinking is that college students at the orientations tend to drink over their tolerance. Not only does drinking over one’s limit jeopardize his or her health, but it also can be hazardous on a group scale such as causing sexual harassment.
A professor at the College of Social Sciences who asked for anonymity said, “Freshmen orientations are not a group honeymoon vacation. The reason why liquor in Freshmen orientations is dangerous is that students in their early twenties lack the power to control themselves. Many of them barely know their alcoholic tolerance.”
Another problem with liquor at Freshmen orientations is that it is often forced to the Freshmen by their Seniors. This is spotlighted as an issue because the concept of “authoritarianism” is in the core. The sense of authoritarianism ruins the main purpose of Freshmen orientations which is mutual bonding and adjusting to college. Not only that, but Freshmen might feel terrified by their Seniors, which can further lead to the damage of school reputation if such news is leaked outside of campus.
Certain sexual games are also being highlighted as some Freshmen orientation’s problem. Unlike the past when sexual harassment occurred mainly by accident due to the loss of rationality, some universities nowadays actually design such games in advance. Hwang Yea-seul, the president of General Female Students Association said, “Freshmen who experience unexpected sexual violence from their Seniors will have to carry a mental scar forever through their lives. This scar can be a burden when socializing because they lost faith in other people.”
The reason why these problems of a number of Freshmen orientations are critical to solve is that college is somewhat like a miniature size of the Korean society. University is where students equip themselves with competence to enter the work force in society. Furthermore, Freshmen orientations are the place that Freshmen first build their impressions on campus life. So if Freshmen misunderstand these “problems” like drinking excessively and sexually harassing each other by playing party games are actually “normal,” they may further put the future society in crisis. This is so because these Freshmen who set new criteria of “normal” in their lives are prone to more frequently act such a way in the real world.
Hwang Mun-ja, a Sophomore majoring in Primary Education at Korean National University of Education, further explained the risks of Freshmen’s misconception of what is “normal.” “Freshmen are prone to feel baffled when they experience the wholly different environment at Freshmen orientations, and so did I. Because they feel so nervous, they may blindly believe that their first impression of college during the orientation is actually the “real world.” This is why inappropriate orientations are so dangerous,” Hwang said.
Bringing it Back to Life
The direction of Freshmen orientations can be tuned into a more positive light. One of such measures is the improvement of programs at the orientation. The people in charge of designing the programs of Freshmen orientations should provide students with programs that do not require blindly drinking liquor. Cho Jang-woo, the student president of the College of Science and Technology, explained how his college arranged the programs to enhance bonding between students. “The student union at my college prepares several programs that demand active participation from students. To name a few are an athletic competition, folk dance, and recreation,” he said.
Programs that will directly answer questions Freshmen have about campus life may also catch Freshmen’s attention. Kim Yun-yee, a Sophomore majoring in Politics and Diplomacy said, “I wish there were a program where intelligent seniors become somewhat like life mentors to the Freshmen and give advices about their career and campus life.” Jo Hae-chan, the student president of the College of Physical Education explained that his college has a program that helps ease Freshmen’s curiosity about school. “We have a program which Seniors guide Freshmen through the campus and answer questions that Freshmen have about each location,” Jo said.
Establishing regulations regarding sexual violence may help curtail such accidents. Hanyang University has established school regulations that control sexual abuse that also affects Freshmen orientations. When an accident occurs related to sexual violence, the Center of Gender Equality takes action to solve the case. Similarly, student associations of each department which is in charge of designing the programs for Freshmen orientations should always keep in mind of the main purpose of the event. The orientation is intended to welcome Freshmen to college, so providing a meaningful time that they are able to cherish is crucial. The internal consent of what makes a “good orientation” is necessary for student associations.
Above all efforts, the sheer awareness among participating students should be the basis of a “well prepared Freshmen orientation.” Hwang Yea-seul, the president of General Female Students Association, emphasized the efforts of Seniors in order to make a successful Freshmen orientation. “Seniors seize the ruling power at the orientations so it is mainly up to them to create an appropriate event. They should consider the Freshmen at all times and cease to force liquor for the sake of pure bonding. Not only that, but they should help Freshmen understand campus life by giving them useful tips,” Hwang said. Campaigning a healthy Freshmen orientation by using posters or creating advertising video clips may also prove to be a boost in building a better Freshmen orientation culture. Such a method can be used to root out the problems of Freshmen orientations shown above.
A Fairy Tale to Last
Freshmen orientations were primarily built to warmly welcome Freshmen into college. In this sense, the programs held out during the event should comfort them and encourage them to think they made the perfect choice to enter their universities. However, some Freshmen orientations nowadays are losing their founding grounds and steering their wheels to the direction of failure.
Forced liquor and games that arouse a glimmer of sexual harassment are prone to make bad impressions on Freshmen. They might as well go home disappointed about what they anticipated to be a “beautiful and romantic campus life.” Not only should Seniors set rules regarding Freshmen orientations in order to prevent any misfortunes, but students in the whole should keep an outlook on their conducts and behaviors. This is so because students are the ones who possess the core power to build their successful Freshmen orientation.
After students cope with a year-long nightmare in the course of preparing for the college admission test, they tend to feel a sense of freedom when entering college. The pressure they received in their Senior year of high school is what strengthens their hope for that sparkling campus life. The Freshmen orientation for them is what determines their first impression on college, which is why the event should live up to their expectations. As the Korean saying goes, “Well begun is half done.”