NUS LAMBAST STRAITS TIMES FOR UNTRUTH REPORTING OF DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

The National University of Singapore (NUS) would like to clarify incomplete and factually inaccurate information reported in The Straits Times article titled “Action taken against NUS students for role in inappropriate orientation activities”, which was published online on 22 September 2016.

When The Straits Times approached the University with the incomplete and inaccurate information the day before, NUS had indicated to the newspaper that there were a number of inaccuracies and gaps in the information The Straits Times had obtained.

The University had also explained in writing and over the telephone that NUS is unable to comment on the details of the disciplinary proceedings or the sanctions imposed as the disciplinary process is not yet complete. NUS had requested that the newspaper refrain from publishing incomplete and inaccurate information, and said that University would be in a better position to respond to media queries when the disciplinary process is complete in October 2016.

NUS would like to clarify that the following sentences in The Straits Times article are incomplete and inaccurate:

1. “… the punishment ranged from warnings without record to mandatory community service”

2. “… the students were involved in organising or facilitating the orientation camps for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the students’ union.”

3. “All orientation activities were suspended on July 29.”

- The University would like to make clear that NUS Students’ Union Rag and Flag activities (student-organised) and Freshmen Inauguration Ceremonies (co-organised with students) proceeded as scheduled, along with Freshmen Welcome Receptions by Deans, Heads of Department and Masters, as well as Faculty and Department briefings. All other student-organised team-building orientation activities were suspended.

4. “About 160 camp orientation group leaders and student camp councillors were summoned to the session facilitated by staff from the university’s Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.”

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5. “A disciplinary board was convened at the start of September.”

6. “The student representatives were present to provide students’ perspectives on the case. The Straits Times understand the student representatives were not from the NUS Student Union (NUSSU), which is the organisation representing the varsity’s student body.”

7. “The university found that the students were guilty of misconduct, …”

8. In reference to help from the NUS law faculty’s pro-bono group, it was mentioned that “This was to help them understand the legal terms that were used in the disciplinary process.”

Freshmen orientation activities at NUS serve to welcome and introduce our freshmen to the university community. The University expects that orientation activities are carried out in ways that are fully respectful of the dignity of all those participating.

Following the allegations of instances of inappropriate orientation activities, the University conducted thorough investigations, and the disciplinary process for a group of students responsible for these activities is underway.

These students have been informed of the Board of Discipline’s decisions. If the students decide to appeal against the decisions, a Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB) will be convened to consider their appeals. The decisions of the DAB are conclusive and binding on the students concerned.

The assistance of NUS Faculty of Law’s Pro Bono Group has been offered to the students involved in the disciplinary proceedings.

NUS convened an Orientation Review Committee (ORC) in late August 2016 to review and make recommendations to further improve freshmen orientation. The 14-member ORC is chaired by Professor Tan Tai Yong, Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs), Yale-NUS College, and members of the Committee include faculty members, student leaders and alumni. The Committee’s report is expected to be submitted to the University in mid-October 2016.

The University requests that the news media be accurate and responsible in their reporting on the issue of freshman orientation, and to refrain from publishing stories which are based on incomplete and inaccurate information. Student disciplinary matters are internal to NUS to safeguard the fairness of these proceedings, and the privacy of all concerned.

The disciplinary proceedings are still in progress. The University will be in a better position to address media queries when the entire disciplinary process is complete in October 2016.

More information on the NUS Orientation Review Committee is available here.

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