Incoming freshmen at Singapore’s top and world ranking university are speaking out against bizarre, unethical practices during their student orientation. Incidents of students being forced into highly sexualized activities have been reported at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) orientation camps.
Students who join the camp said they do so to meet new friends and acquaintances, but end up pressured to perform indecent acts or are made to respond to inappropriate questions, mostly against their will.
Chloe (not her real name), a freshman, told The New Paper that she found questions asked during an activity called “burning bridges” too inappropriate that she became uncomfortable and had to exit the room.
According to Chloe, she was asked which of the guy’s semen she prefers to drink, who among the girls is the sluttiest, and who would never get married and die alone.
“Every time I didn’t take part, I was so scared that the orientation group would write me off as a prude and ostracise me,” said the 19-year-old.
Even the group’s chants and cheers were also sexualized, which include several references to the male genitalia.
“(The cheers) were so senseless. I hated them, but apparently it’s tradition that has been passed down from previous batches,” she said.
She noted that she now understands why there were complaints from women who felt similarly harassed over the sexualized activities in the past years. Despite the complaints, and many promises of investigation, the abhorrent practices still continue.
Two weeks ago, another freshman, Kim (fake name) joined one of the camps organized by the NUS Students’ Union. The camp’s facilitators are seniors at the university.
Kim said she was touched and held from different directions by several students during a “game.” “I didn’t even know where they were touching. It was so physical. I ended up in pain, and it was a scary experience,” she said.
One of the games reportedly pressures a male and female to act out an incestuous rape between a young man and his younger sister.
“The girl had to lie on the floor, then the guy pretended to kick open a door and say, ‘Kor kor (big brother) coming.’ The girl had to respond, ‘Mei mei (little sister) don’t want’,” Kim said. “He then kicked open her legs and did push-ups while lying on top of her. “The girl looked very uncomfortable and covered her face throughout the whole thing.”
Kim said the incident traumatized her, among other similar “games”. “Why in the world would they have such ideas? I wanted to get out so badly,” she said. “A group of us girls wanted to leave, but the orientation group leader stopped us and told us to finish playing the game.”
Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) has released a statement labelling such activities “alienating rather than bonding”,with criminal lawyers saying cases should have been filed and the police should have been notified.
The practice has been reportedly going on for decades with similar issues being brought up year after year. Unfortunately, no solution has been put into place and the culture of sexualized freshman initiation has continued.
“The University takes violations of the Student Code of Conduct very seriously. Disciplinary action will be taken against students who breach these guidelines,” a NUS spokesperson told TNP.
Between canned responses of providing “guidelines” and “looking into” the issue, the unethical practice has remained rampant over the years. For the victims, however, the damage had been done.
“All I wanted was to make new friends. I wonder why we even have such activities?” said Kim. “But the camp is over, and we cannot do anything about it.”