G Spot, a group of student who promote diversity and inclusivity, has come together with Gender Collective, an inclusive social group for people of all gender and sexual identities, to sign a statement of concern regarding the suspension of all student-organised freshmen activities.
The suspension was called by Provost of National University of Singapore (NUS), Professor Tan Eng Chye, on 29 July and was informed through email after cases of inappropriate orientation activities held by students of the university were shown on a video that went viral, even after The News Paper did a report on the sexualised activities of the NUS orientation camps.
Although such cases have happened previously and brought to light since 2008, this is the first time the university have taken such an action.
The students stated that they are concerned about the issue of the orientation programmes and understand that this kind of activities reflects the problematic attitudes and values of some students toward social respect and consent. However, they are disappointed with the suspension by the university administration.
Instead, the students urge the administration to introduce long-term measures to foster a culture of respect and consent to address the root cause that has manifested itself in the inappropriate activities reported.
The students write in their submission:
1.Symptomatic, not fundamental, solution to problem
The students agree that there are problems with the behaviour and activities of students regard to the understanding and attitudes towards issues of sexual consent and respect. But by suspending the orientation, the university will lose the opportunity to provide the university's community with a valuable educational opportunity to correct and address these attitudes, therefore , it appears to be antithetical to the spirit of an educational institution.
The students urges the administration to introduce long-term measures to foster a culture of respect and consent to address the root cause that has manifested itself in the inappropriate activities reported. This includes:
- Implementing sexual respect training for all orientation organising committee members and OGLs on best practices and skills to foster a safe and enjoyable experience for participants
- Including a workshop in Orientation Week to equip incoming freshmen with a better understanding of consent, sexual respect and violence
- Developing a more rigorous feedback mechanism that will allow students to communicate and share openly with university staff and faculty on organising enjoyable and respectful activities.
2. Negative implications on incoming freshmen
The students say that despite numerous complaints about the unauthorised and unsupervised activities, they said that many of these activities are essential for the freshmen to introduce them to the campus, academics, student life and culture.
3. Breakdown of trust among students & with administration
The students said that hours have spent on planning, and implementation of meaningful and enjoyable orientation programmes for the faculties, halls or residential colleges. The decision revoked the effort they made and breakdown the trust among students and administration.
"We urge the administration to instead adopt a more consultative approach in partnership with students to organise and carry out orientation activities that are respectful of the dignity of all those participating. While it is disappointing that some students have breached the trust by carrying out unauthorised activities that flout the university’s rules, we believe that it is more harmful than beneficial to our university community for the administration to adopt such an authoritarian approach," they wrote.