Saturday, July 30, 2016

NUS Orientation Activities Suspended, Now What?

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a NUS graduate and I have not participated in any NUS orientation activities, be it as a freshman or organiser.

So what do I think about the recent reports of improper orientation activities in NUS which led to NUS deciding to suspend "all student-organised freshmen activities" with immediate effect?

Well, while I was in NUS, I did not hear of any complaints against orientation activities from my friends and acquaintances. I do know of friends who have went for orientation and have fond memories of it. But admittedly my circle of friends and acquaintances in NUS was not the most representative or widest.

Some have criticised the media for sensationalising the issue and playing up rare isolated incidents as widespread and representative of all orientation activities. Some have also expressed disappointment with how the relevant authorities have handled the issue as the authorities' actions, including the decision to suspend orientation activities, are perceived as evident attempts to cover a certain part of their anatomy.

Perhaps it is true the media has sensationalised the issue. And maybe the authorities' actions are indeed knee-jerk in nature. However, with media and public attention (not to mention the strong statement by a person of authority on his Facebook page) so focused on the issue, I suppose the authorities had to quickly act to pacify concern and unhappiness from different parties.

However, I hope with this suspension (which will be temporary, I hope) of orientation activities, the authorities would have the necessary time and room to conduct a full, proper and thorough investigation into whether all the claims/allegations of improper activities are indeed true, whether they were isolated incidents and determine culpability. Perhaps they can start by calling for students who have went through orientation to come forward to provide their feedback, positive or negative, about orientation (instead of depending on complaints and feedback made anonymously or indirectly through the media and social media). And hopefully, once the investigation is done, the authorities would come out to announce their findings and follow-up actions.

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