Suspension of NUS orientation activities not the right fix: student groups


A segment of the NUS campus. (Photo: CNBC)

The National University of Singapore’s (NUS) decision on Friday (29 July) to suspend student-organised freshmen activities is disappointing, said two student groups from the university.

In a joint statement issued by the Gender Collective and Yale-NUS College’s the G Spot, both groups said they were in agreement with the university’s view that the “unacceptable behaviour and activities” surfaced by the media in recent weeks are a cause for concern.

The furore began with a report in The New Paper earlier that detailed complaints by numerous NUS undergraduates about the overly sexualised games they were compelled to take part in during orientation camps held over the past two months.

Such activities create an unsafe environment for incoming freshmen and “reflect the problematic attitudes and values of some students towards sexual respect and consent”, the statement said.

However, the incident had also provided NUS students with a “valuable educational opportunity” to address and correct the attitudes that lay behind the questionable orientation practices, the statement said.

In the light of this the outright suspension of student-organised activities “appears antithetical to the spirit of an educational institution like ours”.

The statement alluded the suspension of activities to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, adding incoming students would also miss out on the positive experiences that orientation freshmen usually enjoy.

Another negative consequence to the suspension would be a breakdown of trust between students and the university administration, given the hard work put in by the student organisers.

The groups also urged the NUS administration to introduce long-term measures to foster a culture of respect and consent, so as to address the “root cause” of the matter.

These include implementing sexual respect training for those organising the orientation activities; holding a workshop for incoming freshmen to help them better understand consent, sexual respect and violence; and building a better feedback system to allow students and university staff to collaborate on putting together enjoyable and respectful activities.