SINGAPORE: A report by the Straits Times on action taken against National University of Singapore (NUS) students for their role in inappropriate orientation activities is "factually inaccurate", NUS said in a statement on Thursday (Sep 22).
The Straits Times had reported on Thursday that at least 14 NUS students have been disciplined in connection with the activities, and their punishments ranged from "warnings without record and mandatory community service".
"When The Straits Times approached the university with the incomplete and inaccurate information yesterday, NUS had indicated to the newspaper that there were a number of inaccuracies and gaps in the information The Straits Times had obtained," said NUS.
"The university had also explained in writing and over the telephone that NUS is unable to comment on the details of the disciplinary proceedings or the sanctions imposed as the disciplinary process is not yet complete. NUS had requested that the newspaper refrain from publishing incomplete and inaccurate information, and said that university would be in a better position to respond to media queries when the disciplinary process is complete in October 2016," it added.
NUS took issue with the following information in the Straits Times report as "incomplete and inaccurate":
1. “… the punishment ranged from warnings without record to mandatory community service”
2. “… the students were involved in organising or facilitating the orientation camps for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the students’ union.”
3. “All orientation activities were suspended on July 29.”
- The University would like to make clear that NUS Students’ Union Rag and Flag activities (student-organised) and Freshmen Inauguration Ceremonies (co-organised with students) proceeded as scheduled, along with Freshmen Welcome Receptions by Deans, Heads of Department and Masters, as well as Faculty and Department briefings. All other student-organised team-building orientation activities were suspended.
4. “About 160 camp orientation group leaders and student camp councillors were summoned to the session facilitated by staff from the university’s Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.”
5. “A disciplinary board was convened at the start of September.”
6. “The student representatives were present to provide students’ perspectives on the case. The Straits Times understand the student representatives were not from the NUS Student Union (NUSSU), which is the organisation representing the varsity’s student body.”
7. “The university found that the students were guilty of misconduct, …”
8. In reference to help from the NUS law faculty’s pro-bono group, it was mentioned that “This was to help them understand the legal terms that were used in the disciplinary process.”
Late July, NUS suspended some student-organised orientation activities after video emerged of students dunking at least two people into a pond at Sheares Hall. The NUS Students' Union also apologised for "indecent" and "reprehensible" sexualised activities carried out at orientation camps.
NUS said that, following "thorough investigations" into the allegations of inappropriate orientation activities, students have been informed of the board of discipline’s decisions. If the students decide to appeal against the decisions, a Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB) will be convened to consider their appeals, NUS said, adding that the decisions of the DAB are "conclusive and binding" for the students concerned.
Assistance from NUS Faculty of Law’s pro bono group has been offered to the students involved in the disciplinary proceedings.
"The university requests that the news media be accurate and responsible in their reporting on the issue of freshman orientation, and to refrain from publishing stories which are based on incomplete and inaccurate information. Student disciplinary matters are internal to NUS to safeguard the fairness of these proceedings, and the privacy of all concerned," NUS stated.