Keeping orientations fun and safe
NUS has accepted its Orientation Review Committee's recommendations, which includes new guidelines
National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduates supported the intention of its Orientation Review Committee (ORC) to strengthen safeguards and weed out bad practices during orientation.
But they also asked that the ORC be mindful not to put forward recommendations that would "diminish the spirit, dynamism and diversity of orientation programmes and activities".
The undergraduates' views were part of the ORC report, whose recommendations were accepted in full on Monday (Nov 7).
Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS' deputy president (academic affairs) and provost,had e-mailed students yesterday with a link to the report and announced the acceptance of all recommendations.
The ORC, whose 13 members comprised faculty members, student leaders and alumni, had earlier submitted the report with recommendations on how to improve the NUS freshman orientations.
The review was called after The New Paper reported on sexualised orientation activities which included students being forced to re-enact a rape scene between siblings.
On orientation, the report said: "This was the period when students felt that they were made to feel welcomed and cared for, and where strong bonds of friendships were forged.
"Many of them cherish the experience so much that they feel strongly about wanting to impart these positive experiences to their juniors."
The students' views were in the annex of the ORC report.
To freshmen, the orientation also serves as a transition point into the NUS community.
"I was terribly afraid I would be all alone in law school. I met some of my best friends though camp, who support me daily through school," said a freshman from the Faculty of Law.
For the seniors, orientation means an opportunity to take on leadership and planning roles.
A senior from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences said the planning experience has equipped him with "the skills to navigate inter-personal relationships in a work setting more comfortably".
The students also said that orientation makes the school culture more vibrant.
Another senior said that in orientation, "new friendships are forged and energy and life" are injected into the school's environment, adding that such camps are "a key stepping stone to making university life enriching and meaningful".
The students also spoke out against inappropriate orientation practices.
A Faculty of Law undergrad said: "Inducing fear or inappropriateness during such an event is unbecoming and I believe that we, as a society, as students, as adults, are better than that."
Inducing fear or inappropriateness during such an event is unbecoming and I believe that we, as a society, as students, as adults, are better than that.
- A Faculty of Law undergrad
The recommendations of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Orientation Review Committee include:
- A freshman orientation framework set by The Office of the Provost to act as a guide for organisers. The framework will work on fostering a "sense of belonging and pride for NUS" and ensure that freshmen are "welcomed, assured and supported".
- There will be an annual customised training programme for student leaders and staff advisers, which will include crisis management and sensitivity to "at risk or vulnerable students".
- There will be a stringent selection process of student leaders and staff advisers. Potential student leaders will undergo a detailed assessment by a selection panel.
- It will test their responses to various scenarios to gauge "their values and moral compasses". Staff advisers will be appointed based on their abilities to serve as role models, to develop students and to set the bar for student leaders.
- There will be additional checks and safeguards. Every camp will have a student leader acting as a "safety officer" to look out for inappropriate behaviour. Staff advisers will also give a mandatory briefing at the start of a camp and make random visits during orientation activities.
- There will be additional platforms, such as workshops, for "greater awareness, sensitivity and respect".