SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) is investigating reports of inappropriate orientation activities and will take strong disciplinary action against those found responsible, it said in a statement on Tuesday (Jul 26).
The New Paper on Tuesday reported that freshmen were asked questions which touched on taboo subjects, such as what bodily fluids they like to consume, and some were asked to re-enact a rape scene.
NUS said it 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," NUS said.
It added that the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) had conducted sessions with students involved in organising and leading orientation activities before the start of the orientation period. During these sessions, do's and don'ts of orientation, as well as banned activities were meted out, NUS 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," the statement said.
NUS added that separately, OSA had worked with the Deaneries in Faculties, and the Masters of Halls and Residential Colleges on the necessary steps needed to ensure all planned student orientation activities would be acceptable.
"We are very disappointed that despite these efforts, instances of offensive and completely inappropriate orientation activities that were not submitted nor endorsed have surfaced," NUS said. "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."
It added that any student who has concerns about the activities carried out at orientation can contact the NUS Office of Student Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org on a strictly confidential basis.
Feedback about overly sexualised orientation programmes had also been posted on the NUSWhispers Facebook page. OSA responded to this on Jul 21, saying it has taken note of the concerns raised and is working with faculties to find out more.