An article published by TODAY earlier on Sunday (14 Mar) – titled ‘Gen Y Speaks: This is why I don’t want to be woke. Don’t cancel me for it‘ – argued that billionaire author J.K Rowling of Harry Potter fame’s “fall from grace” is an example of the dangers of “wokeism” and “cancel culture”.
This article by Dana Teoh, a National University of Singapore (NUS) student and a student of veteran journalist, Bertha Henson, created great controversy, generated fierce online debate, and was criticised by several activists as endorsing “untruths and bigotry” against marginalised communities in Singapore.
In the wake of backlash against the article, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of NUS issued a statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday (16 Mar) calling on cyber-bullying and personal attacks against Dana to come to an end.
Further, NUS asserted its abiding support for “rigorous and intellectual debate”, adding that “there should always be opportunity for open dialogue on a diverse range of topics and issues”.
The university also called for all discourse to be “carried out in a civil and respectful manner”.
While the statement said that NUS was committed to “efforts in raising awareness and generating discourse on the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised in society, and fostering learning, awareness and empathy”, it would appear that not all netizens agree.
Under the comments section of the Facebook post, several netizens questioned whether the university would similarly stand in solidarity with its trans students who have also suffered from the “more extreme parts of this debate”?
A few others thanked the university for standing up for its students.
Yet one netizen remarked that while NUS stands by Dana, she will eventually need to “stand up for herself and against this onslaught of disagreement”.