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Source : serve.me.nus.edu.sg

NUS conducts intensive investigation due to complaints about inappropriate orientation activities

The National University of Singapore (NUS) released a statement on 26 July which said that the university will take a strong disciplinary action in the feedback on instances of offensive and completely inappropriate activities.

The New Paper (TNP) had released an article on the NUS's orientation camps on 26 July and reported that there were some complaints from the students about the sexualized activities at the orientation camps over the past two months.

The news said that the students were told to re-enact a rape scene, while another female student was asked whose bodily fluids she would like to drink.

The statement by NUS writes, "We do not condone any behaviour or activity that denigrates the dignity of individuals, and that has sexual connotations. Our students, particularly freshmen, must feel safe and secure at all times during orientation. If they decide to opt out of an activity, their wishes must be respected,"

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) had conducted sessions with the students involved in organising and leading orientation activities, including student orientation leaders from NUS Students' Union, Clubs, Societies, Freshmen Orientation Committees, project directors, and Residential Hall Junior Common Room Committees.

During these sessions, OSA went through with the student leaders the do's and don'ts of orientation, as well as banned activities and it t was mandatory for these students to go through the written materials with examples of "do's and don'ts".

Students were also made aware that strong disciplinary actions will be taken against offenders. In addition, all proposed orientation programmes and activities had to be endorsed and cleared by the relevant supervisors, such as Hall Masters and Vice Deans, as well as OSA, before they could proceed.

Students were also asked to remove inappropriate activities.

Separately, from the beginning of the year, OSA had worked with the Deaneries in Faculties, and the Masters of Halls and Residential Colleges on the necessary steps needed to ensure the acceptability of all planned student orientation activities.

"We are very disappointed that despite these efforts, instances of offensive and completely inappropriate orientation activities that were not submitted nor endorsed have surfaced. We take these reports very seriously, and are carrying out thorough investigations. Strong disciplinary action will be taken against those found responsible," it said.

OSA has met with the student leaders of the ongoing and remaining camps, and briefed them on the guidelines for acceptable orientation activities. It also said that NUS staff will also be on site at these camps.

A Facebook page NUSWhispers posted a response from OSA and asked for any student who has concerns with orientation activities to contact the NUS Office of Student Affairs at [email protected] on a strictly confidential basis.

Sexual games been in NUS orientation camps before 2008

Apparently, this was not the first time that such complaints were being made.

Back in 2014, a NUS students' aunt, who identified herself as Ms Ng, wrote a letter that was published in the Real Singapore, complaining that the orientation camps at the National University of Singapore (NUS) often feature sexual activities.

A campus blog called Campus Eye NUS published a story about the complaint and the activities held inside the campus area. It was said the activity were typically unplanned, and agreed upon by leaders and participants, including those who are not doing the forfeits, just before the forfeits are done.

The activity included forfeits such as Seven Wonders, an activity in which two students would touch each other as instructed by their peers, male students doing push-ups over females, and Ms Ng even said that the female students were asked to lick whipped cream off male student's neck, nipples and also rub their hands on males' thigh, trying to sexually stimulate the males.

The student, who declined to be named, said these activities were passed down from earlier generations of students.

In 2011, Lianhe Zaobao reported how a girl broke down into tears by peer pressure after excusing herself from the physical bonding games in camp.

Examples of the games that the participants had to partake in.

  • The girl lies flat on the ground while the boy does push ups on top of her.
  • A boy and a girl stand back to back. The girl has to stretch her arms behind her to hug the boy.
  • A boy and a girl have to eat a biscuit together from two ends while holding it up with only their mouths. They have to finish the biscuit.

That was not the first time such  was being reported though, this goes way back even till 2008. Straits Times had already published an article about how students at the orientation camp at NUS had to do the same forfeits.

So while the university stated that it is doing an investigation and is working with the faculties to find out more, will the public expect changes to happen to the camps? Given that nothing much has changed ever since the matter has been brought up to the open and NUS's knowledge.