NUS cracks down on sexualised orientation games

Uproar over sexualised NUS orientation, MP tells organisers to ask themselves: Would you want your daughter to do this?

LEWD: Screen grab showing a supposed game where a boy is doing push-ups on top of a girl with his crotch against her face.
Mr Seah Kian Peng

As the National University of Singapore (NUS) began its crackdown on sexualised activities during orientation games yesterday, Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed surprise and concern that such activities are still happening.

Several orientation camp organisers in NUS were called up for questioning by the school administration, following The New Paper's report on sexualised games at some of the camps.

Some female participants said they were pressured into taking part in these games despite their discomfort. The games included a simulated rape between siblings, embarrassing questions about sluttiness and bodily fluids, and inappropriate body contact.

TNP understands that the NUS Students' Union, in particular, is under intense scrutiny, but has so far denied allegations of indecency.

Many people were outraged by the report and MPs called on the school to take a closer look at such activities.

In a statement yesterday, an NUS spokesman said that inappropriate activities and behaviours are not condoned by the school and "strong disciplinary action" will be taken.

"NUS takes an extremely serious view of the recent media report and feedback on instances of offensive and completely inappropriate orientation activities," she said.

"We are very disappointed that... instances of offensive and completely inappropriate orientation activities that were not submitted nor endorsed have surfaced."

About 40 orientation camps were organised by the different faculties, halls, student union, and school societies in NUS this year.

The spokesman said that all students involved in organising and leading the camps were briefed by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) before the activities were carried out.

They were also given a list of dos and don'ts. (See report below.)

She said: "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 asked to remove inappropriate activities."

An e-mail was sent to all NUS students yesterday to assure them that the school is "committed to providing students with a safe and secure environment".

Mr Seah Kian Peng, who is on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, was surprised that sexually suggestive activities were still going on despite complaints over the past decade.

After finding out details of some of the activities, he described them as "unnecessary and humiliating".

He urged the universities to take a hard look at these activities and examine the purpose of such camps.

"If the purpose of an orientation camp is team bonding or a rite of passage, such behaviour cannot be justified in any way. They have definitely crossed the line," he said.

"During the planning process, the leaders should just ask themselves: Is this something they would want their younger siblings to go through?

"If they had a daughter, would they want her to experience this?"

Ms Denise Phua, GPC chairman for education, urged the organisers to reflect on the purpose of orientation camps. She said: "They should consider other activities that are less controversial and still fun and memorable."

PARENTS REACT

Many parents were shocked to read about the sexualised activities at NUS and some went on TNP's Facebook page to register their disapproval.

Netizen Yoshimura Isaac wrote: "Frankly, if my daughter goes for such a orientation, then I will make sure I change her to another school. It's supposed to be teaching things that are useful to their future, not teaching them to do or act (in) such a manner."

Another netizen, Alvin Teow, wrote: "If NUS doesn't deal with this in the right way, then all parents should think thrice about letting their daughters enrol in NUS."

TNP reader Josephine Ng, 46, a housewife, called the activities ridiculous and embarrassing.

"When I read the article, I could not believe it. I've read past reports and this is not excusable," said the mother of two girls aged 12 and 14.

"If the school cannot handle it, then I think it's time the Government steps in," she said.

"Such activities have a long-term impact, not just on the students but on Singapore's image as well."

Ms Phua said that parents are understandably concerned.

"But their children are no longer kids, and they must let them decide if they wish to take part in such activities," she said.

In previous years, it was reported that the Social Development Unit (SDU), which was formed in 1984 to promote marriages among graduate singles, had sponsored many of the orientation camps in universities.

In 2008, a letter to The Straits Times forum page complained about risque activities at orientation camps and called for SDU and the universities to monitor the activities.

An SDU spokesman said at the time that it had informed students who sought its support to keep physical contact to a minimum.

The unit was renamed the Social Development Network (SDN) in 2009.

An SDN spokesman told TNP yesterday: "Since January 2016, SDN has ceased its funding for university camps and events."


If the purpose of an orientation camp is team bonding or a rite of passage, such behaviour cannot be justified in any way. They have definitely crossed the line. During the planning process, the leaders should just ask themselves: Is this something they would want their younger siblings to go through?

- Mr Seah Kian Peng, who is on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education

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NUS to crack down on sexualised games

TOO MUCH? Male students doing push-ups over female students at an orientation camp at the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London in 2011.

National University of Singapore (NUS) is promising that "strong disciplinary action will be taken" against those responsible for inappropriate orientation activities.

This follows a report in The New Paper concerning sexualised orientation activities. Activities that have continued despite complaints over the past decade.

One student complained that her peers were made to re-enact a rape scene as a forfeit, while another was asked whose bodily fluids she would like to drink.

Netizens expressed outrage with many calling for swift action to be taken against the camp organisers.

Readers also contacted The New Paper and said that it was unbecoming of the school.

Madam Josephine Ng, 46, a mother of two daughters aged 12 and 14, told TNP that the activities are ridiculous and embarrassing.

"When I read the article, I could not believe it. I've read past reports, and this is not excusable," she said.

"Enough is enough. It has been a whole decade and yet nothing has changed."

"Such activities have a long term impact, not just on students, but on Singapore's image as well."

Mr Seah Kian Peng, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, expressed surprise that such "unnecessary and humiliating" games have not stopped despite complaints over the years.

He told TNP: "They have definitely crossed the line. During the planning process, the leaders should just ask themselves – is this something they would want their younger siblings to go through. If they had a daughter, would they want her to experience this?"

Earlier this evening, NUS released a statement:

The National University of Singapore (NUS) takes an extremely serious view of the recent media report and feedback on instances of offensive and completely inappropriate orientation activities.

Orientation is intended to welcome and introduce our freshmen to the NUS community. The University expects that orientation activities are carried out in ways that are fully respectful of the dignity of all those participating, regardless of gender.

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.

As is the practice each year, before the start of this orientation period at NUS, 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. It 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 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.

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

Any student who has concerns with orientation activities can contact the NUS Office of Student Affairs at osabox15@nus.edu.sg on a strictly confidential basis.


GET THE FULL STORY IN THE NEW PAPER, WEDNESDAY, JULY 27

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The sci-fi film knocked animated film The Secret Life Of Pets, which earned US$29.3 million, to second place.

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According to the Daily Mirror, the long-running show has been losing popularity ever since original hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left last March.

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The 25-year-old English singer replaces US model and TV personality Tyra Banks, who hosted the first 22 seasons and was also a judge and executive producer.

Banks will remain as an executive producer. USA Today revealed the new panel of judges: Ora, Paper magazine chief creative officer Drew Elliott, US model Ashley Graham and stylist Law Roach.

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Sana opens support centre

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They aim to give ex-offenders a start

Business owners work with Sana to provide free training at their barber shop fresh

SNIP: Mr Zen She Yikai (far left) and Mr Noor Izwan Noor Jali, owners of the Brother's Barber Holdings, will provide haircutting training to ex-drug offenders at their barber shop.

He saw his sister making a turnaround after her jail stint for drugs, and wanted to help ex-offenders like her.

Brother's Barber Holdings, owned by duo Noor Izwan Noor Jali and Zen She Yikai, both 28, is one of the organisations collaborating with the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) to offer work training for ex-offenders.

Starting September, the company will be holding a one- to three-month basic haircutting training for ex-offenders for free.

The owners' desire to help ex-offenders is very close to the heart - Mr Izwan's sister is an ex-offender.

She first started sniffing glue and abusing crystal methamphetamine (Ice) when she was 15, and went to jail in her early 20s.

Mr Izwan said: "When she came out of prison, she really changed. She started working odd jobs, and now heads her own business."

"If my sister can change, so can other people," he added.

The duo, who met while working at Jean Yip Salon, said they have many friends who are ex-offenders.

"We know how easy it is to go back to their old ways, and our training would hopefully give them a clearer sense of purpose," said Mr Noor.

Training for their basic haircutting course will take place at Sana and at their barber shop at PPT Lodge 1B Workers Dormitory at Seletar North Link, a foreign workers' dormitory.

Each batch of six participants will be given an allowance of $200 per month to sustain themselves before finding a permanent job.

Training takes place three times a week, lasting five hours each session.

JOBS

Graduates from the course are welcome to join any of Brother's Barber Holdings' outlets - other than the Seletar outlet, there is one at Tuas and another at Woodlands.

The Central Narcotics Bureau reported that 3,343 drug abusers were arrested in 2015, a 6 per cent increase from 2014.

More than two-thirds of the new abusers arrested were below the age of 30.

Ice and heroin were the two most commonly abused drugs.

Mr Noor also explained why he and his partner decided to set up shop in a foreign dormitory.

He said: "When we worked at Jean Yip Salon, we often saw foreign workers glancing our way. We thought of bringing the hair salon experience to them."

Their services include haircut, colouring, rebonding, highlighting, and scalp treatment.

The shop now sees about 100 customers on weekdays and 200 customers on Sundays, mostly foreign workers.

"Unlike in regular hair salons, we can talk about anything with them. They are more than happy to share about their family, marriage plans," said Mr Noor.


Our training would hopefully give them a clearer sense of purpose.

- Mr Noor Izwan Noor Jali

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