Entering university is a heady experience. It is an adventure that as a father to two teenage girls, I hope that my own children will get to go on.
University prepares us to tackle the toughest challenges of our times – climate change, abject poverty, terrorism, ageing populations, diseases, widening income gap.
Orientation marks the start of University life. Every year, student leaders and staff organize activities and camps. Students sometimes have to go through difficult and challenging experiences – but these are what memories are made of, how bonds are forged, how tribes are formed.
Activities can be rigorous, creative, even wild; students may push boundaries.
But at all times, we must respect human dignity and remember the point and purpose of a University education.
Pretending to ejaculate into the face of a fellow student plays no part in this purpose – it is a reprehensible act that cannot be tolerated; goading others to act out a rape scene not only degrades the real suffering of rape victims, it inflicts fresh humiliation on female students.
Protesting such acts has nothing to do with being prudish or a bad sport, everything to do with respect for human dignity.
Orientation is still on-going or will be starting soon at some Universities. I have asked that orientation activities be carried out in a manner that respects the dignity of the freshmen.
As for what was reported to have happened at NUS, the University has made clear to me that it does not condone such incidents; it is conducting an investigation and will take strong disciplinary actions against those found responsible.
I thank the staff and student volunteers for their hard work and the many hours of planning that have gone into the orientation programme. I know that much of it was useful and edifying.
Let us forswear the parts that were not.