A Hanyangian living in the dormitory on the Seoul Campus complained about her difficulties walking up the campus every morning and night. “When going to class from the dorm, I face two challenges; the very long and steep hill called Saimdangro and next, the long stairway. After hiking over these two, I am exhausted even before arriving in class. Also, because it’s such a workout, by the time I finally get to class, all my make-up has been sweated off,” lamented Lee Jane, a Sophomore in the Department of English Language and Literature. “It has been over a year of climbing up the dormitory to campus but I still can’t get used to this imposed exercise.” Like in the case of Lee, there are a number of students who also grumble about the hassle of having to trek in and around the campus. These kinds of complaints about the layout of the Seoul Campus are actually coming from students frequently and thus hard to ignore.
In response to these complaints, Seo Hyeon, a Professor in the School of Architecture, requested that all three media outlets of Hanyang University (HYU) - The Hanyang Journal(The HJ), The Hanyang University Press, and Magazine Hanyang - bring up this issue. Therefore, in this issue of Acropolis, input from some discontented Hanyangians, Professor Seo, and the HYU Administration will be shared on this matter of the problematic campus layout.
The Current Situation of the Seoul Campus
To find out what the current situation of the Seoul Campus is, Professor Seo conducted a research project on campus with 15 of his students from the School of Architecture. They divided the campus into several areas for their research and also gathered numerical data on the student ratio, the usage of buildings, the degree of the slopes, and the traffic conditions.
In the research, Professor Seo carried out a survey with 100 students who were enrolled in his class called ‘Humanistic Architecture’. He distributed to the students five campus maps during the class and instructed them to draw their daily route. The students were also asked to mark the places on campus where they usually study and rest. Through their research, the team determined that there were three main problems of the layout of the campus. The first is the paths, which experience a large floating population, and are usually steep. "One of the results of our analysis shows that 72 percent of Hanyangians enter the school through Aegimoon, which is the number two exit of the Hanyang University Subway Station on campus. Most of these students take the path between the Old Main Building and the New Main Building to the path in front of Engineering Building I. Unfortunately, this path is also one of the steepest sections of the campus," said Kim Dong-won, a Senior in the School of Architecture who participated in the project. In addition, the section leading from the College of Human Ecology to the Business and Economics Building is notorious for its steepness as well. "As these places are where most Hanyangians walk on campus, they need to be improved,” he added.
The second problem is the fact that the paths which students frequently use and the buildings where students visit most often are not really related to each other. In other words, the most popular paths are being used by students simply because of a lack of alternatives. "This indicates that routes to and through the campus are not efficient," Kim explained.
Moreover, some of the walking routes and the car traffic routes on campus are intermingled with each other; they either intersect or are one in the same. An example of this is the road in front of the College of Education Building as well as the College of Human Ecology Building. Kim voiced his concern about it since there is a lot of potential for accidents.
How Students Feel About the Campus Layout
According to Professor Seo, the complaints of Hanyangians can be narrowed down into three main points: first is the inconvenience of walking through the campus due to the steep slopes; second is the problem of walking paths with vehicles alongside; and third is the need for a more energy efficient campus, or ‘Green Campus’.
In addition to this information, The HJ conducted its own poll involving 200 Hanyangians. The result of The HJ survey shows that among the three points Professor Seo mentioned, Hanyangians showed the most dissatisfaction with the steep hills of the campus. The respondents also pointed out that the path leading from Aegimoon to the path between the Old Main Building and the New Main Building, as well as the ‘158 Stairway’ which leads to the College of Humanities Building, were the most inconvenient. “When my leg was injured, I had a very difficult time going up the stairs to attend classes in the Division of Social Sciences Building. To avoid the stairs, I had to go around the two Main Buildings and hike up the hill, which actually seemed much more difficult,” said Ha Min-young, a Sophomore in the Major in Public Administration.
Another student claimed it was stressful going to the College of Humanities Building due to the frequency of cars driving around nearby. “I have most of my classes in the College of Humanities since I am majoring in English Language and Literature. Since there is a huge parking lot in front of the College of Education Building stretching over to the College of Humanities Building, I have no choice but to walk next to cars coming in and out. This bothers me a lot,” complained Lee Jane.
The Problems with the Current Campus Layout
Professor Seo believes the current problems should be addressed. “I learned through the surveys that most of the Hanyangians’ activities are done inside of school buildings. This tendency will prevent them from having any memorable events on campus. Instead, it is likely that they will remember chairs and desks in the school buildings when thinking about their school campus in the future.”
Unfortunately however, at the moment HYU does not have any plans to resolve these problems in the near future. “The renovation of our campus will require huge investments and large amounts of time since we are talking about a massive construction project. What is needed is a long-range construction plan that includes various safety measures, and can be modified if other issues arise,” said Cho Ki-che, the Chief of the Department of Facility Operations.
Calling Upon HYU to Improve the Campus
It is clear that the current campus layout has a lot of room for improvement. Recently, Professor Seo came up with a “Master Plan” as a solution to these problems. Since Hanyangians, professors, and HYU have generally agreed that there is a need to improve the campus layout, HYU should put his master plan into consideration to alleviate the inconveniences of suffering Hanyangians.
Professor Seo said, “The campus is where students spend the most important time in their life. Therefore, they should feel relaxed and free on campus. However, the current Seoul Campus of HYU does not support these needs of the students.”