Every year, new students attend university, starting their year as freshmen. Becoming a university student often is a big advancement in one’s life as it means becoming more independent and involves a change in one’s environment. In fact, typically, in Korea, freshmen are thought to be a little more ‘special’ than other grade levels and most of the programs are directed towards them. One of the programs for freshmen includes the X-men program, in which the seniors pretend as if they are freshmen, secretly helping freshmen adjust to the university life. Nevertheless, this program has recently been at the center of controversy due to several problems that have arisen from it. The reporters of the Hongik Tidings have come together to discuss this issue.
For the X-men Program
Against the X-men Program
Yoogyeong: I think that the X-men program is beneficial. Usually, many freshmen feel awkward when they enter university for the first time and meet new people. But X-men indirectly help those students to get close with each other more easily and to strike up conversations with complete strangers. In addition, as for the seniors, they are able to get close to the freshmen without barriers.
Jiwon (Park): To look at the positive point of view of the X-men program, since freshmen may feel unfamiliar withuniversity life and many even feel like strangers in a new environment, it might be a good aim for the seniors to disguise as freshmen to help them out. However, to me, it seems as if the main objective of this program is for the seniors to play a prank on the freshmen, even an exaggerated joke. Just like the many actual cases of the program in our school, the X-men program eventually is like a hidden camera prank, and seems like a fraudulent practice that is played on as many as a hundred students.
Hahyeun: You mentioned that the X-men program is like a hidden camera prank, but I disagree. I believe that the hidden camera prank is just a small part of the program, simply used to reveal the seniors participating in the X-menprogram. Other than that, the previous actions or motives of the X-men were to help the freshmen. To be more specific, some examples are that the seniors of the X-men program help to plan and carry out the talent show andintroduce drinking games. Correspondingly, it is not exactly true to classify the X-men program as a fraudulent practice as there are many positive objectives.
Yoorim: Recently, a freshman posted in the Hongik University Bamboo Facebook page saying, “In this group chat room, there are definitely seniors acting as X-men but they are not giving any help, but rather looking at the things that we talk about. Let’s make a new chat room, only including those who can prove that they are ‘true’ freshmen who really did get accepted this year.” This shows that the trust of seniors from the freshmen have decreased and the freshmen would also suspect each other of being a X-men. Additionally, consider another case: if a freshman said something inappropriate to another friend (thought to be a freshman) but later, the friend actually turned out to be a senior. Later, this might create a problem between them. For these reasons, I think that the X-men is not a good program.
Jiwon (Seo): For the case that you just mentioned, when a person says something inappropriate to a friend, it does notmatter whether that friend turned out to be a senior or not. The problem lies in the freshmen who said bad things at first. The original function of the X-men is to disguise as a freshmen who knows a “little more” and give information about applying for classes, notices about scholarships, locations of the classrooms (which is very complicated in our school), and to pass on the traditions of their own major, such as the bars/restaurants that their senior used to go to most often. I believe that the happening of the freshmen creating another chat group and criticism of the X-men participants simply arose due to the inadequate performance of their role. In addition, another positive point that I thought this X-men program had was on the stance of the seniors. Normally, the reason why seniors participate in the program is because for men, they have to come back to school after a two-year break for serving in the military. After returning from their two-year break, they still could have someone familiar to them in order to have a good school life. In short, they can use the program to prepare for their future school life by becoming an X-man and getting closer with the freshmen.
Junyoung: I am on the positive side of the X-men program. In Korea, where hierarchies are considered important, the feeling of being close to a friend and being close to a senior are different. But through the X-men system, when you get close to a senior, by thinking that the senior is a freshman, then even after it gets revealed that he/she is a senior, you still can maintain the intimacy and an even better relationship. Also, as for the hidden camera prank, I guess only if it does not get too harsh, the prank may even be able to become a good memory and a special event that students can refer to in the future. To sum up, the X-men program has too many good functions for it to simply disappear.
Minhee: Everyone would have so much fun and it would be a good memory if as you said, the program is performed well without any harshness. However, it is true that it is eventually a prank. These days, there are some television hidden camera programs and even in the past there were several hidden camera prank based programs. But just like how those programs had issues, the members participating in the X-men program spend several months planning the perfect scenarios how to fully deceive freshmen and how to make them more shocked when the truth is finally revealed. Therefore, it can’t be helped but for the X-men program to become more provocative. Based on my own experience, how much information can the seniors pretending to be freshmen give to the real freshmen? It’s actually the seniors from the student council who give the most information to them. Also, since the plot of the hidden camera prank becomes harsh, the freshmen get shocked and most end up crying, which the seniors have fun watching. After realizing that the friend who you became close to was actually a senior, you become concerned about whether you did something wrong or made a mistake. Frankly, even if you became close to them and the seniors who were X-men tell everyone to come visit their classroom, not everyone feels comfortable actually going up to their classroom to meet them. Therefore, I am still in doubt whether the X-men program plays an important role in achieving its main goal.
Dayoung: I agree. Although there could be some beneficial functions such as helping out freshmen and promoting friendship among seniors and freshmen, those could be achieved in other ways and therefore does not justify the immoral conduct of playing a prank on freshmen. Most importantly, it might not apply to all the people, but there are some who may feel very insulted that they got fooled in this prank. In any case, it eventually is a lie to a whole group and in between it, people could be offended. Therefore I think it is not right to fool a whole group.
Hahyeun: Both sides seem to be solid on their arguments. No wonder there’s controversy about this program.
Originally intended to give a helping hand to the freshmen, the X-men program has been faced with many unexpected difficulties and problems that have raised the concern of many. While some majors continue to participate in the program, other majors have decided to put an end to the concern by giving up carrying out the program. No matter whether this program continues to be performed or not, I hope that the freshmen would well adapt to the new environment and university life.
You Hahyeun firstname.lastname@example.org
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