SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - They were warned not to conduct inappropriate activities for freshmen but did so anyway.
Now, because of a handful of undergraduates, all student-organised freshman activities have been suspended at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The activities suspended include Orientation Week, also known as O Week, a five-day event that was scheduled to happen next week.
It was to be the final orientation camp before the school semester begins.
The unexpected measure follows the controversy over how some of the games at the orientation camps had become sexualised.
The last straw appears to be a video that surfaced yesterday, showing students conducting dunking and ragging activities at Sheares Hall on Wednesday (July 27).
In the video, four students can be seen grabbing a limb of another student and dunking him into a body of water repeatedly while singing.
This was also carried out on a female student.
Another segment of the video then showed topless male students crawling on the floor while chanting obscenities.
NUS has since confirmed the video.
In a strongly-worded statement to the media on Friday (July 29), a spokesman for NUS said such activities were not condoned but were still carried out despite previous instructions on the matter.
“We are deeply disappointed that some of our students have flouted the rules and behaved in an unacceptable manner in organising freshmen activities,” she said.
“Dunking or any other form of ragging is strictly banned under the university’s guidelines for student activities.
“The university takes a very serious view of this breach and is currently conducting an investigation.”
The spokesman added that all student-organised team-building activities for freshmen have been suspended until further notice.
The New Paper understands that ongoing camps were stopped halfway because of the suspension, and the participants were told to go home.
The suspension and video come in the wake of current investigations of the union camp and arts camp at NUS.
In the report, one freshman told TNP that she was asked whose bodily fluids she would drink, while another watched her peers re-enact an incestuous rape scene as part of a forfeit.
Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung also put up a post on Facebook on Wednesday evening, condemning the sexualised activities at NUS’ orientation camps as “reprehensible”.
On Friday, the NUS spokesman said that those responsible will be brought before the university’s board of discipline.
“The instances of unacceptable behaviour and activities that have surfaced this week play no part in a university education,” the spokesman said.
“The university is conducting thorough investigations into these unacceptable as well as unauthorised activities.”
However, some activities for the freshmen are to continue.
The spokesman said: “The freshmen inauguration ceremonies, welcome receptions by deans, heads of department and masters, as well as faculty and department briefings, will continue as scheduled.
“The Nussu Rag and Flag activities, which raise funds for 22 Singapore charities, will continue.”
NUS undergrad Janella Ooi, 21, is a committee member of one of the events that was affected by the suspension.
She said they had spent about half a year planning the event and a lot of their own money.
“We are really sad because our juniors put in a lot of effort and now it is completely undone,” she said.
“But personally, I understand (the decision to suspend activities), and I was extremely appalled by the forfeit that promoted rape culture.”
She added that Orientation Week was to be a time for freshmen to get used to university life, but that opportunity has now been taken away.
She said: “I feel that NUS could perhaps have some official who could oversee the activities to ensure that these rules are adhered to strictly.”
Miss Hui Yan, 26, a marketing executive and NUS alumna, said she was previously a camp facilitator and feels that the rest of the school is being punished for the actions of just a few.
“It is an incredibly superficial and shortsighted move on the school’s part, thinking that removing a one-week event will solve deep-rooted issues of sexual harassment and misogyny once and for all,” she said.
“Careful planning has gone into the logistics in terms of ensuring overall safety and modesty at most of the camps.
“And organisers will feel frustration and betrayal by the school authorities for seeking a short-term solution instead of formulating a proper resolution in view of the amount of time (that has) gone into planning.”