NUS disciplines 30 over risque orientation games; punishments include suspension, fines

Student orientation groups conducting activities at the University Town at National University of Singapore on June 27, 2016.
Student orientation groups conducting activities at the University Town at National University of Singapore on June 27, 2016.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore (NUS) has taken various actions against 30 senior students for inappropriate behaviour during its freshman orientation period in July.

In a circular sent to students on Thursday (Oct 13) afternoon and obtained by The Straits Times, Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS' deputy president (academic affairs) and provost, stated the range of punishments meted out. These included suspension for one semester, fines of up to $2,000 and mandatory community service of up to 100 hours.

Other disciplinary actions included behavioural rehabilitation programmes "focused on respect and socially acceptable behaviour", statements of reflection on the incidents, and official reprimands which will be on permanent record.

The students disciplined had roles in orientation camps, among them for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the NUS Students' Union.

The offences ranged from "disorderly and offensive behaviour, to organising and participating in improper orientation activities that potentially put other students' physical welfare at risk".

The investigations involved about 400 senior students and freshmen.

Following the investigations, those who were found to be responsible for inappropriate behaviour were brought before disciplinary boards. The disciplinary process took place between August and early October.

The boards issued penalties to 30 senior students who were found to have breached the university's statues and regulations or its code of student conduct. After being notified of the punishments, the students were given two weeks to appeal. None were filed.

Prof Tan noted in the circular that "many of the students involved have expressed regret and apologised for their unacceptable behaviour".

"We hope that they will learn from this episode and grow into responsible and respectful individuals," he wrote.

An Orientation Review Committee (ORC), which consists of 14 members including faculty members, student leaders and alumni, was convened in late August to come up with recommendations to improve freshmen orientation activities.

The committee is expected to submit its report to NUS later this month.

Mr Tan Wee Bian, NUS Students' Union president, told The Straits Times: "The union trusts that the university has followed proper disciplinary procedures and imposed the appropriate sanctions on the students involved. Moving forward, the union will form a task force to address the ORC report when it is released."

Prof Tan said freshman orientation activities are an important rite of passage at the university, and many students have had meaningful experiences.

"We therefore expect all orientation activities at NUS to be meaningful, safe and fully respectful of the dignity of those participating," he added.

"We also expect our students - seniors and freshmen alike - to behave in a manner befitting of this highly regarded university community."