Why banning NUS O’week is not the answer to sexualised camp games
Let us go back in time to what first sparked off the NUS saga which led to the unfortunate banning of NUS’ orientation camps. Most of you would have come across The New Paper’s article and The Strait Times Article which reported that NUS camps were becoming increasingly sexualised. It should also be noted that only two students’ remarks were listed in the article. This then led to much fury and people started picking sides. A number of NUS students came forth to showcase their good experiences in camp and some even called these articles “bullshit”.
Some agreed with the articles and said that orientation camps these days were “getting out of hand”. One even sympathised with the NUS management for the decision it had to make, saying it was a last resort to the situation.
Having gone for an orientation camp myself, I must say that it was one of my best experiences in university. And having been in a camp committee, the amount of work that goes into planning, finding of sponsors and so on is beyond imaginable. What you see is less than half of what an orientation camp is all about. Granted, not everyone would have had an amazing experience like I did and I respect that. I agree that orientation camps are not for everybody. However, there are a considerable number of people who look forward to it when they apply to a university. So is it fair to remove that experience for everyone just because someone did a stupid mistake or because one newspaper stated that it happened?
I believe it is not. As university students, we all know that you should not believe everything you see on the internet. However, I am going to give all these media sources the benefit of the doubt. Let’s just say it happened. But, I am also going to say that banning orientation camps is most definitely not the answer. I am sure that there are a number of ways this issue could have been handled better. So what can be done then? One, investigate and suspend the person who was in charge of the said sexualised activities. This will send a strong message to all orientation leaders that such behaviour will not be condoned. Tough? Yes, but it is definitely better than removing the experience for everyone else, especially those who have put in so much of hard work and sleepless nights just for those few days of fun. Two, get all orientation leaders to sign a form stating that they have to abide by the school’s values and not conduct any activities that are deemed inappropriate to the students and the public. It should also state that anyone who does not follow the right conduct of behaviour will be suspended. This way, it reduces the chances of such activities happening and think about it, you really wouldn’t want to risk suspension, would you? Lastly, as a long-term solution, ensure that all orientation leaders and camp participants are made to attend a compulsory session where they are educated against the trivialising of sexual issues. Encourage the leaders to create a friendly and comfortable environment for freshmen to mingle rather than forcing participants to do something against their will. At the same time, let the participants know that they have the right to refuse to do any activity they are not comfortable with.
Whether these are the best solutions are for you to decide but at least they pave the way for other solutions. Have an idea to solve this problem? Or think NUS made the right decision in suspending the camps? We would love to hear your thoughts!
References: Image 1: http://rc4.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/freshmen1.jpg Image 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXI-OiJSLMQ