Singapore— First-year students are subject to sexualized activities during Freshman Orientation Camp. They complain. Sometimes they do it at the camp itself. Sometimes they do so anonymously through the ‘confession’ or ‘whisper’ on social media pages of the institutions where their parents paid hard-earned money to send them.
Officials of these said institutions get wind of the complaints. They investigate.
Rinse and repeat.
If nothing has changed in the 13 years since 2006, when these activities at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) started being reported about, will they ever change?
Or will we hear (and see videos on social media) more of the same next year or the year after that?
Comedian and blogger mrbrown (Lee Kin Mun) posted a photo of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with a quote from last Sunday’s National Day Rally, wherein he said, “We want every Singaporean son and daughter to have the opportunity to receive a good education and start well in life, regardless of family circumstances,” right above a photo of NTU students chanting “Kukubird! Kukubird! This is my kukubird!”
NTU is currently investigating the incident from where the photo was taken, said to have been one of the school’s Freshman Orientation Camps. “Kukubird” is a reference to male genitalia.
But this incident is only the latest in the history of sexualised freshman orientation activities in prominent universities in Singapore, with the problem going back even as far as 2006.
Last year, The New Paper (TNP) reported that in one activity of NUS students at Sentosa beach, students stripped off their clothing, while in the water, in order to form the longest line with teams competing against each other.
Some male and female students reportedly took their clothes off, until a facilitator stepped in, putting a stop to the nudity, which is against the law. At that time, NUS told TNP they would be investigating the incident.
In January of 2017, NUS imposed a ban on ‘negative’ activities from freshmen orientation camps, including “lewdness, raunchiness, promoting deliberate close body contact and instilling fear.”
This was in response to freshman orientation activities during previous year, in 2016, when thousands of NUS students were subjected to activities that included being asked to answer questions about drinking bodily fluids, physical touching in a game that involved soap and water, an incest/rape scenario, and a cheer that simulated a males ejaculating on a female, according to an in-depth report from TNP.
In 2014, also at NUS, a male student reportedly only wearing shorts was blindfolded while female students removed whipped cream on his neck through licking it off.
In 2011, at the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London, an activity with male students leaning over females lying on the ground left one female student in tears which was similar to a 2008 activity at NUS, with the males doing pushups over the females.
In 2006, students at NTU and NUS made the news because of orientation activities that involved lip contact and washing armpits.
While NTU has said that it is investigating the most recent incident with the ‘kukubird’ cheers and that “any student found to be responsible for allowing, condoning, arranging or participating in such cheers will be counselled and also face disciplinary action,” whether the nature of the freshman orientation activities will actually change is anyone’s guess./ TISG