Singapore

NUS reviewing freshmen orientation

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is rethinking its freshman orientation and reaching out to its students, alumni and faculty for ideas.

The review is being done by the Orientation Review Committee (ORC) set up by the Office of the Provost.

This follows The New Paper's expose in late July on sexualised activities that its freshmen were being put through. The activities included being forced to re-enact a rape scene between siblings, and one undergraduate being asked whose bodily fluids she would like to drink.

NUS suspended all student-organised orientation activities on July 29.

It announced yesterday on the NUS News website that the review is underway.

"Orientation is intended to welcome and introduce freshmen to the university community," Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS deputy president (Academic Affairs) and Provost, told the website.

NEW APPROACHES

"As part of the review, we've asked the committee to consider new approaches to freshman orientation as well as positive current practices that should be extended and preserved."

The review committee, which was set up late last month, has been asked to provide recommendations on:

- Key principles that underpin freshman orientation, with reference to the NUS Code of Student Conduct

- Measures that would enable students, particularly student leaders, to understand and embrace these principles and build a positive and respectful student culture

- New approaches to freshman orientation and whether there are aspects of past orientations that should be preserved

- Checks against unacceptable student behaviour in orientation activities

- Safeguards for students inadvertently placed in potentially vulnerable situations.

The 14-member ORC, comprising a mix of representatives from the student body, faculty and alumni, is chaired by Professor Tan Tai Yong, executive vice-president (Academic Affairs) of Yale-NUS College.

PERSPECTIVES

Prof Tan, a former Nominated Member of Parliament, said: "Many of us in the ORC are alumni of NUS and we understand how a well-conducted orientation can be a crucial and defining experience for all NUS students.

"The ORC is doing a thorough review of current practices and will consult extensively with stakeholders, and gather different perspectives, inputs and suggestions."

The committee has held three "lively and productive" meetings with student representatives from NUS Science, NUS Business School and the Halls of Residence in the last month, said Prof Tan.

It has lined up more student and faculty engagement sessions and aims to submit its final report to university management by the middle of next month.

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