‘Do we have class tomorrow?’ The most common question asked by Hanyang University (HYU) students turns out to be a by-product of a major absence of a school policy. The year 2017 is expected to be the year with the longest possible holiday periods in the month of May and October. While most people anticipate and yearn for the upcoming holidays, there are some others who find the holidays to be a serious headache.
May 9th, 2017, was a day that drew a stroke in the history of Korea; the National Presidential Election Day after the impeachment of the former president. While the Korean government declared the day to be a temporary holiday, some professors of HYU gave regular classes under the prediction that the students had enough time to vote before and after attending classes. The professors who announced to give regular classes on the Election Day, however, received an email from the HYU Student Council (Hanmadi), and were asked to cancel the classes. On such conduct, some professors expressed displeasure in front of the students.
The reason behind this discordance between the HYU Student Council and the HYU professors turned out to have resulted from the lack of a clear, specified school regulation on the matter of canceling classes on temporary holidays.
According to Chapter 5, Article 9 of the HYU school regulation, it is said that the official school holidays of HYU are only allowed during summer and winter holidays, Sundays, school anniversary, and national holidays. Meanwhile, policies on temporary holidays could not be found anywhere.
The current status quo of HYU regarding this issue is that the school is giving full authority to the professors to determine whether to cancel classes on temporary holidays or not. Both the students and professors of HYU seem to be having some serious problems regarding this issue, one of the examples being the above controversy between the HYU Student Council and the professors of HYU.
What Hanyangians Want
In part, the main confusion among students was that they were not fully informed if their classes would be held or not. “The fact that professors have full responsibility in deciding whether to have classes on temporary holidays or not, is very inconvenient for students like me. Most professors do not announce that there will be classes until one week prior to the holiday, while those who go back home outside of Seoul during the holidays need to plan and buy train or bus tickets at least two weeks before. Because of this reason, I even had to cancel a train ticket and repurchase a bus ticket in order not to miss my classes,” commented a Freshman from the Division of International Studies of HYU. The student also mentioned that it would be better if the school makes formal notifications of class schedules for temporary holidays every month.
It is important to note that the students are not plainly bothered by having classes on holidays; rather, they are concerned about the way professors decide and inform them of class schedules. “I do understand and agree with the reason why professors give classes on temporary holidays, but I believe that it should be carried out through an official procedure,” mentioned a Freshman majoring in Chemical Engineering of HYU.
According to a survey conducted on HYU students, 71.26% of the students mentioned that they have experienced, or seen people complain about having no set rules regarding temporary holidays. Most complaints were due to the fact that the professors did not receive all the students’ ideas when deciding the class dates, or making an official announcement about the classes. Students have also showed disagreement in regards to this issue being under the sole jurisdiction of the professors. They demanded change in the school policy to specify the dates in which the professors are allowed to have classes within the temporary holidays.
The Professors’ Take
Upon contact, many professors avoided voicing their individual opinions around this issue. Instead, the HYU Office of Academic Affairs has spoken out on the stance of the professors and explained the current measure that is being taken.
According to the office, while they do recommend professors to cancel any classes on a temporary holiday on a monthly basis, the right for the professors to decide the class dates is also justified. Under the professors’ position, they have the duty to fill the expected class hours within a semester, which indicates that the professors will need to give additional make-up classes if the existing ones are canceled on temporary holidays.
What Measure is HYU Taking Regarding this Issue?
The reason why the HYU school regulations do not include temporary holidays is simply because the dates differ annually. Still, if the students of HYU believe that there should be some changes in the school regulations, anyone can feel free to inquire about the issue to the Office of Academic Affairs.
The likelihood of the change in school regulations coming to reality seems to be very low, however, considering there are various procedures that need to be revised in order to officially change the policy. Additionally, there is a high possibility of the inquiries being rejected after a careful inspection.
The lack of communication the students pointed out was disregarded by the school’s behalf. The office once again stated that it is the professors’ right to decide whether there is going to be a class or not, and they also have the liberty to decide in which form and manner they were going to communicate that decision to their students.
What Changes Should be Made?
The matter of having classes on temporary holidays has been continuing for many years, especially causing the issue to surface during the recent election. As explained before, the major problem is not focused on having the classes on temporary holidays itself, but rather, on the fact that there is no public communication system that allows smooth interaction among the students, professors, and the school.
The action that HYU should take in light of this situation is that it should establish a new regulation regarding the issue. Moreover, HYU should come up with a proper and specified procedure that ensures all relevant students’ opinions. This would allow every student to receive the confirmed class schedules, leaving enough time to plan their days ahead.