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NUS Student Union expresses concern towards the freshmen orientation

The Student Union of National University of Singapore has expressed its concerns towards the sexualized activities during the student-organised activities which happened in the AY2016/2017 on its Facebook page.

In the first official statement by the NUS student union on 31 July, it said that the activities, which came to light after The News Paper brought the issue up, was held during the informal ice breaker games within their own respective orientation groups. It noted that the activities are indecent, reprehensible and not condoned and the Union apologized for putting the freshmen into the uncomfortable situation.

The Union emphasised that activities was not endorsed by the Union, its Constituent Clubs and the orientation organizing committees and they do not represent the moral integrity and mannerism of the university undergraduate students and they do not picture the general activities held by the students.

All of the student-organised orientation was suspended by the university through emails on July 29.

The Union said that it has held the emergency meeting with the staffs and key personnel from NUS offices to assist with the investigations.

It also asked for publics’ understanding and appealed to the public to refrain from extending the harassments, such as name-calling, singling out in derogatory language, etc, since the inappropriate behaviour by few errant students do not represent the entire population of NUS undergraduate students.

In the statement the Union asked all of its members to stay united during the tough time and stated, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”

A large majority of netizens who commented on the public statement, were not convinced with the stance by the student union.

A netizen, Jason Ng stated that the statement was half hearted and held hopes of having the matter bide sometime to be swept under the carpet. He pointed that the issue was published at least 5 years ago and the university had closed its eyes and ears on the matter.

“I would heart fully expect a better reply than this statement issued in haste and hiding hopes of ignorance to the matter. Future leaders you are never building from. Degrading human values and fostering disrespect is your acclaimed induction of early adulthood through NUS. You hardly know about the joke that’s is yourself. Wake up,” he said.

Andy Choa, who shared the same views wrote, “However, it must not be forgotten that this is not an isolated incident. It has been highlighted and reported before since years ago. But yet it is still happening. NUS/NUSSU needs to ponder these – Why the matter is only addressed now? Why not a single female student leader/volunteer present during these camps object to such activities? Why are these male leaders/seniors still conducting these activities like they are still in the army? How does these boys feel if their girlfriends/sisters were subject to such activities? The few culprits need to be disciplined if NUS/NUSSU wants to isolate them from the majority.”

A netizen who claims to be a father, Ee Seng Koh wrote, “I am one of those concerned parents who make “noise” when the news broke. The pictures depicted are demeaning, humiliating and belittle the suffering of the real victims. It shows bad taste and total lack of empathy. I don’t care if I am the only voice among many, I also don’t care if there were no one saying “no” to the game then, it is just wrong, period. To say, as a concerned parent that it is none of my business? I can’t agree. If I am called an “over-protective” dad to my daughter? So be it.
I have a son entering university soon. If he participate in those game, I will certainly kick his sorry ass.
If my daughter were put in a position to participate in such games, I will make the organizing committee pay, and take NUS to tasks. Again, this is just me, a dad.”

A commenter, Kam Zhihao wrote, “You said that the inappropriate behavior of a few students is not representation of nus student body as a whole, which is a fair point. In the same vein, the actions of a few members of public also do not represent the public at large.

As a student body asking to be involved in major decision making processes by the university management, making a appeal to members of public to refrain from harassing nus students for matters such as harmless teasing excessively paints the students as powerless victims incapable of standing up for themselves. This certainly does not help in making your case. On the contrary, it reinforces the view that they require protection, and hence, oversight.

The students should be encouraged to either speak up against or be strong enough to simply walk away from the harassing person.”

Another commenter, Joseph Che wrote, “Okay, I read through the lengthy post which I thought was a clear disclaimer of responsibilities. I would like to hear about (i) how is the strong disciplinary action taking place in NUS, and (ii) what are the measures to prevent future occurrences? National University of Singapore, please let us know when the “investigation” is complete and the information that everyone wants to know is ready.”

But there were some who are sympathetic towards the student union over the whole incident.

Valeria Valeria wrote, “Firstly, the freshies were not FORCED to take part in any games, in any camps. Neither are the camps compulsory. Being able to actually complain about the lewd activities suggests that you must have been a participant or at least an eyewitness to it. If you were a participant, why didn’t you refuse to participate, and even started complaining after the activities? As undergraduates, I think any freshies are old enough to refuse something they find unacceptable, rather than to complain thereafter. Thus, I feel that those who had started complaining after the activities are not very responsible in their behaviors. To blame it on the organizers solely is even worse, as they have obviously partly at fault.”