LAST ISSUE OF THE SEMESTER
TUESDAY, 14 APRIL 2015
VOL. 3, ISSUE 12
ACADEMIC FREEDOM INTEGRAL
EDITOR’S TO YALE-NUS’S FUTURE NOTE The contract between Yale University and NUS will not be released to the public.
Dear readers, It is with great sadness that I will be stepping down as Chief Editor of The Octant at the end of this semester. The baton will be passed on to my dear friend and partner-in-crime, Spandana Bhattacharya, with two lovely righthand women as Managing Editors— Enzkhul Badral and Regina Marie Lee. This marks the end of countless hours of reading and editing articles, having meetings that never seem to end (too many people have told me, “The Octant is always having meetings!”), and having to deal with unexpected emergencies at the worst timings (printers running out of ink, complaints of misquotes, papers disappearing into thin air, just to name a few…). It also means that I can finally do the other 101 things I want to do with my life. Yet I know that I will miss even the smallest things about The Octant: sitting down with writers to go through their articles, the satisfaction of seeing friends pick up and read the paper, the meeting when we discussed our April Fools’ issue, and more. The Octant has grown so much over the past two years, of which all of you have been witnesses to. The greatest testament to the publication’s success is its ability to survive and thrive despite all obstacles. I am proud to say that we have built an organization strongly rooted in its dedication to free speech and critical discourse, and it will be a cornerstone of our College long after all of us have graduated. I may have ignited the flame, but it is now time for someone else to carry the torch. For the last time, Joyan Tan Editor-in-Chief
story Yonatan Gazit | photo Yale-NUS College Public Affairs reporting Spandana Bhattacharya, David Chappell
breach of academic freedom on Yale-NUS College’s campus could put its future in jeopardy. In an interview with The Octant, President of Yale University Peter Salovey outlined for the first time that “something of a controversial nature that challenged core academic values” would prompt Yale to withdraw from its agreement with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Academic freedom, or “the ability to teach and learn about anything on campus”, is the most important among these core values. NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan, however, said in an email interview that “NUS is fully committed to the success of Yale-NUS College.” Mr. Tan pointed to other collaborations NUS has had with other universities, such as Duke University and Johns Hopkins University, to express his confidence in the agreement with Yale. Protection of freedom of speech is included in the contract between Yale and NUS, according to Yale-NUS Governing Board Member Roland Betts. The contract also allows either university to back out at any time if they see fit, but the universities would need to give six months notice before officially withdrawing. Every ten years, the institutions will run a review of their involvement as well, according to Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis. “At any time they could [leave the agreement], but the ten-year review is a moment for stopping and reflecting to say ‘do we want to continue?’”
he said. A lack of quality at Yale-NUS as a teaching institution would also factor into the school’s agreement with NUS, Mr. Salovey said. Mr. Lewis said that if Yale was to pull out of the contract, current students would graduate with a Yale-NUS degree, but the college would cease to exist with this name after the last batch graduates. A “successor institution” would operate on the campus instead. While Mr. Lewis said Singapore’s government has given certain “guarantees” to protect on-campus academic freedom, this may not extend to student organizations. For instance, he said, the “main press constraints (in Singapore) tend to be things like libel suits” and student-run publications are “in the same media landscape as other publications in Singapore.” In the context of Singapore, a liberal arts education may prove to be problematic, since it is often associated with free, uncensored discussion on a wide array issues. Singapore was ranked 153rd internationally of issues on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. The Ministry of Communications and Information regulates the media outlets within the country, leading to some censorship. Despite this, Mr. Salovey said that while working on their agreement there were “reasonable people ... very motivated to get to a place of common ground and common understanding” on the Singapore side. Mr. Tan
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NEWS expressed similar sentiments. “An important aspect of commitment is the resolve to work through and address [problems],” he said. Academic freedom, however, is not synonymous with complete freedom of speech. “There are restrictions on protests and other things that do apply to Yale-NUS students as they do to everybody in Singapore ... we never claimed to be able to prevent the enforcement of laws that are on the books in Singapore,” Mr. Lewis said.
Students interviewed said that they did not know about Yale’s condition over their commitment. “I am quite surprised that something like that hasn’t been made very well known,” Dominic Choa Dun Hao ’18 said. Adrian Stymne ’17, currently spending a semester abroad at Yale University, was likewise unaware of the line Yale has drawn. But given the resources Yale has invested in the school and the ramifications of ending agreement, he was skeptical of how quickly Yale would be
willing to pull out of the contract. All three Presidents, Mr. Tan, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Salovey, said that so far they have been extremely satisfied with how Yale-NUS has run over the past two years and are excited to see how it progresses. According to Mr. Lewis, the original contract between the schools will not be released to the public. Spandana Bhattacharya and David Chappell both contributed reporting from New Haven.
CONSTRUCTION DELAYS IMPACT WORKERS’ CONDITIONS story Joyan Tan | photo Elizabeth Heng
elays in the construction of Yale-NUS College’s new campus, due to incidents such as the dengue outbreak last year, have led to an increased urgency to complete the building project by early August. This may have caused lapses in working conditions for construction workers working on the project, as Yale-NUS students express their concerns. According to President Pericles Lewis, the original plan had been for “two-thirds of the campus to be ready by January 2015 and the other third to be ready by June 2015”. The revised expectation is that the College will be completed in July, and latest by early August. While the project has experienced manpower constraints due to tightened governmental controls on foreign labor, Mr. Lewis said that the biggest reason for this delay was the dengue outbreak in August 2014. The dengue outbreak had a larger impact on the construction schedule than expected, according to Mark Francis, Project Director of Design & Construction. A stop work order was issued for five weeks, he said. Subsequently, workers had to be gradually brought back on board and there was a “psychological lack of momentum”. Mr. Francis said that if not for the dengue outbreak, the College would have been ready for students to move in by January 2015. The concluding stages of construction coincide with recent concerns expressed by students over the construction workers’ working conditions. Rachel Quek ’18 said, “There was one night when it was about 3am and [the workers] were still doing their work.” Sau Yee Tsoi ’17 made the same observation in a post on the Yale-NUS College Students Facebook group, on March 25. “Why are they working at 3.30am in the morning…” she asked. Manager of Design & Construction Diana Bain said in an email interview that workers work from 8am to 7pm with two 15-minutes coffee breaks before and after the one-hour lunch break. Paid overtime work has been extended to 10pm during the current project peak period. Ms. Bain noted that while the
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Builders work on the building’s exteriors from construction site elevators.
College is against any work being carried out after that time, “there has been the odd occasion where certain critical work had to be completed and workers were asked to work additional hours”. In a similar vein, Abdul Hamid ’17 expressed his concern over workers’ working conditions after seeing a worker work in “pretty heavy” rain. According to Hamid, the worker had been in a construction site elevator at “around the same level” as him on the 13th floor of Residential College 4. The worker stayed up there “for about 10-15 minutes” before the elevator was brought down. “It looked pretty unsafe for someone to be up there on such a high level working despite the bad weather,” Hamid said. According to a construction worker, whom The Octant interviewed on the basis of anonymity for job security reasons, workers move indoors whenever it starts to rain. They resume work outdoors after the rain stops. According to Quek, some workers continue working outdoors when there is a slight drizzle. The safety lapses may be a product of the tight schedule the construction company has to work with to complete the campus in
time. Quek noticed that construction work on the campus seemed to have ramped up from the mid-semester point. “I see them working non-stop; the construction sounds are getting louder every day as well,” she said. Mr. Francis said that due to the unexpected delays the College has encountered, “we’re pushing really hard here towards the end.” Faculty and staff will begin moving into the new campus in the coming months, and students will officially move in next semester.
The Octant Editorial Team Joyan Tan Editor-in-Chief Spandana Bhattacharya Editor-at-Large May Tay News Editor Yonatan Gazit Deputy News Editor Regina Marie Lee Features Editor Kavya Gopal Arts Editor Abdul Hamid Roslan Deputy Arts Editor David Chappell Sports Editor Tee Zhuo Opinion Editor Alex Pont Business/Distribution Manager Angela Ferguson Designer Pareen Chaudhari Head of Artwork Enkhzul Badral Copy Chief Andy Chen Web Director
DOUBLE-DEGREE PROGRAM WITH DOUBLE THE PROBLEMS Some students find DDP problematic.
story Jessica Teng Sijie | photo Christopher Khew | reporting Chan Li Ting *The author is a student currently enrolled in the DDP of Class 2018.
onceived to provide a “broad liberal arts education in addition to professional training in law” as stated on the YaleNUS College website, the Double Degree Program (DDP) with the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Law is having trouble meeting student aspirations. Mounting concerns about the DDP structure and perceived lack of communication between key stakeholders have surfaced as Yale-NUS prepares to enroll another cohort of DDP students in the next academic year. Of the five DDP students interviewed, four cited the inability to declare a Liberal Arts major as a chief concern. According to Assistant Professor of the Humanities and interim DDP advisor Matthew Walker, DDP students cannot take up a major at Yale-NUS, although they can choose a minor. Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said the option to major was “squeezed out” so DDP students can take the courses necessary to complete both degrees in five years. “You get the breadth of the liberal arts college experience, but not the depth. Because the depth is happening on the law school side,” he said. Some DDP students claimed such information was not clearly communicated to them from the beginning. Lu Zhao Boyu ’18 said there was a lack of clarity on the Yale-NUS website, which states that DDP students will be awarded a “Bachelor of Arts (with Honors)”
and a “Bachelor of Laws (with Honors)”. “I was [therefore] under the impression that I’d get to [...] fill in the brackets that follow the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or specialization,” she said. This would be similar to other NUS DDPs, where students declare two majors. Walter Yeo ’17 added that the Yale-NUS Admissions Office had “at certain points” also suggested the possibility of DDP students double-majoring. Several DDP students interviewed felt that they should be given the choice to choose a Yale-NUS major. Lu ’18 said that the current policy disadvantages DDP students who intend to pursue careers that are not “explicitly lawbased”. She gave the example of Criminal Psychology, for which a Psychology major would be helpful, in addition to a Law degree. Cephas Tan ’18 suggested that modular credits earned from summer school courses and additional courses could help interested DDP students fulfil major requirements. “We are students of Yale-NUS after all, and should be given a choice to do a major like every other student,” he said. Another point of frustration was a perceived lack of communication between Yale-NUS and the Faculty of Law. This has manifested itself in timetabling problems, including a clash between examinations for the Singapore Law In Context and Foundations of Science courses. Daniel Ng ’18 added that it remains unclear if the Faculty of Law will recognize pro-bono activities that students conducted with Yale-NUS student organizations and law-
related courses taken at summer school. Furthermore, when DDP students sought advice from their academic advisors, the latter were “often at a loss as to what to do with law students”, according to Yeo. Mr. Walker said discussions were underway to develop “a longterm system for DDP student advising”, and noted that DDP students can meet with David Tan, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the Law Faculty, from next semester onwards. In the meantime, DDP students have asked for a permanent DDP coordinator with a law background to assist them with academic and professional advice. Presently, Mr. Walker and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law Sheila Hayre serve as interim bridges between YaleNUS and the Faculty of Law. Ms. Hayre is also the wife of President Pericles Lewis. Ng highlighted the provision of freshman housing during the Law Special Term as an example of the administration’s receptiveness to feedback while Natasha Sim ’17 noted the arrangement of transportation to the Law campus. Although Yeo said Ms. Hayre in particular “has been very helpful”, he noted that she is limited by her informal connections to YaleNUS and cannot represent students in an official capacity. The need for specialized personnel to manage the DDP was brought up in a recent Student Government meeting, and Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs) Tan Tai Yong assured students that he is looking to hire someone for this position. There are eight DDP students in the Class of 2017 and thirteen in the Class of 2018.
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AMBASSADOR CHAN HENG CHEE GOVERNING BOARD INTERVIEW SERIES interview Regina Marie Lee | photo used with permission from Karen Teo, Yale-NUS Office of the President
mbassador Chan Heng Chee joined the Yale-NUS College Governing Board in July 2013 and is currently Chairman of the National Arts Council and Ambassador-at-Large with the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this email interview, she shares with The Octant her role in guiding Yale-NUS, as well as her views on female leadership, human rights, and the political climate in Singapore. Could you tell us about your appointment to the Governing Board, and why you decided to take it up? I was appointed a Trustee of National University of Singapore (NUS) upon my return from Washington after serving as Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States for 16 years. I was a faculty member of NUS, and Head of the Political Science Department before I turned diplomat … I have been interested in this project since it was started, and I’m professionally interested in the development of a good liberal arts education. What is your role in the Board of Governors at Yale-NUS, and what unique perspectives do you bring to board meetings? My role as a member of the Governing Board is to raise questions and provide advice to the Yale-NUS academic and administrative leadership … I am an academic, a university person, but I’ve served in government as a diplomat. I bring an international and national perspective to the discussions on the board. Having served as Singapore’s Ambassador to the US for many years, what do you
think is the significance of Yale-NUS in the relationship between Singapore and the US? It used to be that the Singapore-US relationship focused mainly on trade and defence. As Singapore changed and the economy and society matured, we have expanded the areas of cooperation and collaboration. American investments have been coming to Singapore for decades. Singapore now invests in the United States. Education is one area where we have deepened our relationship, certainly in the time I was there. Singapore math programs have been profiled and adopted in a growing number of American schools. We have educational alliances with many universities. Yale is the bluest of blue-chip universities in the US. The Yale-NUS relationship is high profile in both countries and has generated much interest. This is a significant relationship because it has caught the attention and imagination of the public in both countries. We all want it to succeed. As Singapore’s first “Woman of the Year”, awarded by Her World in 1991, what are your views on gender roles in Singapore today? Gender equality in Singapore is not at the level of Scandinavian countries or that of the United States. That said, a young woman in Singapore can take up any occupation she wants and do anything she wants. Lately, figures show the number of women on Singapore corporate boards is shockingly low compared even to our neighboring countries. And this is surprising as Singapore women have demonstrated their
Above: Ms. Chan was Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States (US) from 1996 to 2012.
capabilities in business and the professions and are very successful. We can do better. Clearly corporate boards are largely a boys’ club. They are missing something. They could make even better decisions. My advice to young women: go for it and do what you love. Don’t worry about what other people are saying about you. What are your views on the current political climate of Singapore, and where do you see us going in the next 10 to 20 years? Singapore politics is changing. The political system is opening up and politics is normalizing. In the next 10–20 years you will hear a diversity of voices and views. What do you think is the key to being a successful diplomat, and what advice would you give students who hope to follow in your footsteps? To be a successful diplomat you must have good people skills and communication skills. You must be activist, and entrepreneurial, spot opportunities and make something of the opening provided. I take intelligence and analytical abilities as given.
THE FUTURE OF YALE-NUS ATHLETICS story David Chappell | photo illustration Sylvia Gan, Bozy Lu, and Natalie Tan
y the end of the first academic year, Yale-NUS College’s athletics scene was successfully out of the starting blocks. As the college approaches the end of its second academic year, its momentum is picking up, but there are still many obstacles to overcome. These issues include a need for a funding restructure, a better recognition process, and a need to cultivate an enthusiastic and committed
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sports culture at the College. One of the most pressing challenges raised by students was the need for increased levels of funding for both sports clubs and teams. “Compared to regular student organizations, sports require a similar or even higher level of investment in terms of support and funding from the Athletics Department or the College to see results,” Captain of the Ski, Board and
Surf Team, Luke Ong ’18 said. Ong also raised concerns regarding the allocation method of the funds, saying he felt that more costly sports need more support from the administration. However, the lack of funding for athletics organizations does seem set to change. In an interview conducted via email, Athletics Director Wainright Khoo described the current resources for athletics as “limited” but said that
SPORTS/ARTS the College had “extended more funding to the athletics budget,” following the “exponential increase” in the number of athletics teams. Similarly, the Athletics Department is aware that the method of allocating funding is something that needs to be worked on. Mr. Khoo said that while he thought the system of funding had been acceptable this year, it could “certainly be improved.” The Department currently plans for the Athletics Council, a council consisting of all the team captains, to play an increased role in the determining of funding for athletics teams and clubs. They will also be creating a new committee, composed of members of both the Athletics Department and the Council, which will look at budget requests from both teams and clubs. It is unclear, however, if these steps will address the concern regarding Yale-NUS’s process for recognizing sports teams. Evan Ma ’17, who founded the Yale-NUS Volleyball Club, said that the current recognition requirements for both number of members and commitment could act as a disincentive for participation. “It’s a chicken-egg cycle,” he said, “they say if you don’t have enough members then you can’t be a team, but the motivation for putting in effort in the first place is that a team exists.” Currently each team requires that the number of members equal the number of participants needed for a competition. These members must be able to commit to 85% of training sessions in order for the team to be formally recognized. Ma recommended removing the initial commitment requirement saying that, “once you have enough people, [you] should be recognized a team first and then you have your privileges stripped away if you don’t meet the commitment requirements.” Another challenge that students raised was
Above: What’s next for Yale-NUS Athletics?
the current culture at Yale-NUS surrounding both competing in and supporting athletics. This was highlighted by Ma, who said that he felt “the biggest problem for athletics is commitment,” adding that he felt there were too few people at the College to make up a credible number in each club.
This concern is something that both students and administration hope will be addressed by the arrival of the Class of 2019. Rachel Ong ’17, captain of the Women’s Tchoukball team, said that she hoped the new batch would bring with them commitment, talent and enthusiasm. Mr. Khoo said that the new batch would create a greater athletic talent pool to further strengthen teams already performing well and others still in the developmental stage, sentiments that Ma echoed. As for support, (Luke) Ong said that he would like to see the same level of support for Yale-NUS sports as was seen for Yale University at last semester’s screening of the HarvardYale football game. He added that that level of support is crucial to building College identity, “if you have seen the Bernabeu (one of the world’s most prestigious soccer stadiums), you will understand how sports can bring people from different backgrounds together and unite them.” (Rachel) Ong had some suggestions for increasing the level of support in the coming years. She said that better publicity of sports events could increase the number of supporters at events. She added that,“it would be great if the Athletics Department could sponsor some food and drink for supporters.” Despite this increase in commitment, from both fans and competitors, there is still a sentiment that Yale-NUS’s sports needs to remain inclusive to less experienced players. Mr. Khoo said that he hopes there will be “athletics for every type of student at YaleNUS, from competitive sports to [those at the] intramural level”. Similarly, Ma stated that he wanted Yale-NUS to continue to be inclusive, while at the same time allowing for a good competitive representation for the professional athletes that come to Yale-NUS.
RELYING ON THE RECTOR’S COPAY story Abdul Hamid | photo used with permission from Tamara Burgos
nterested in attending a show? Email the Rector’s Office and, with enough student interest, they might get tickets. You get to see the show, and pay a subsidized amount for it! Colloquially known as the Rector’s Office copay, this informal arrangement has become the go-to for students who want to attend ticketed events outside Yale-NUS College. What students may not know, however, is that the copay is part of a larger budget under the Rector’s Office. The Office’s stated role is to help build a cohesive community, create bonds amongst students, and instil a sense of belonging in students at the College. Mr. Brian McAdoo, Elm College Rector, sees the copay arrangement as
one way of fulfilling that aim.”It gets student to do stuff together ... [and] develops social and cultural capital.” Mr. McAdoo questioned, however, how effective this arrangement was in achieving the former aim, saying that it only brings together specific segments of the community with similar interests. The Rector’s Office has subsidized tickets for performances such as the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake in 2013 and The Wooster Group’s Cry, Trojans!. Ticket prices for such performances are usually steep. “I don’t think students would go … if there wasn’t a copay,” said Adlin Zainal ’17. Student initiative drives decisions as to whether tickets will be bought for a specific
Above: An event that may be eligible for the Rector’s copay.
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ARTS event. “Based on the interest, ... we will work out how many tickets to get and how much the copay will be,” said Ms. Indrani Kaliyaperumal, who handles the copay arrangement as Senior Executive of Elm College. The only exception is if the event falls during the Reading or Exam weeks, in which case a the Office will not copay the event. While this allows the office to be responsive to student needs, it also means an informal system with no clear guidelines. “How do you justify what gets copay and what doesn’t? Why does [the 2015 St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival] get copay but [a] Katy Perry concert doesn’t?” asked Zainal. She noted, however, that there was no simple way to decide if something was culturally significant
enough to be subsidized for students by the Rector’s Office. After tickets for an event have been purchased, they are given out through a ballot of students who have had indicated their interest in the event. However, some students frequently fail to collect their tickets. Ms. Indrani said, “until that last few hours I would have … a few tickets left because there would be students who ... will never turn up”. Ms. Indrani moves students who consistently do not show up to a lower priority. “I have no choice … I would rather give it to students who [have not] attended events [before], even if you were the first to ask for the tickets, you … previously didn’t respond
to me and didn’t collect them”. She added, however, that the situation has improved from last semester. She usually tells the students who have collected their tickets to spread the word to other students who may be interested. Moving forward, the Rector’s Office will have to ensure that the copay arrangement can continue to cater to students even as the college grows. “I think they will benefit in the long run if they were more transparent with the process,” said Zainal. What is certain is that the copay arrangement is here to stay. Mr. McAdoo said, “We are a twenty minute train ride from the city and we are right in the middle of so much. We would be remiss not to take advantage of that.”
THE FUTURE OF ELECTIVES
be complemented by in-house workshops and periods spent in specialist institutions abroad.” He confirmed that there will be several new instructors joining the college, in addition to the ones that have already been announced. According to Mr. Joyce, the performance field is not forgotten. “Theater and Performance has been at the heart of the College’s vision from the blueprints stage, just wait till you see the Black Box,” he said. Students are optimistic about future prospects of the major and modules offered. Yap said that things will improve when the student body grows in size. Shanice Nicole Stanislaus ’17, who wants to specialize in dance and theater, said that while “it would certainly be nice if more classes were offered ... [but] you do not need an academic class to do something.” Students can also choose to enroll in National University of Singapore (NUS) courses. Janel Ang ’17 enrolled in a film module at NUS last semester as there are no Yale-NUS College classes offered in that field at present. While this is not ideal since “NUS classes are really big … [and] far”, Ang sees the current situation as “pretty sufficient”. She hopes that there will eventually be more film modules offered at Yale-NUS. Jevon Chandra ’17, who wants to focus on music, is not bothered by the fact that many Arts professors will be visiting professors. “One semester is long enough,” he said. “You can always keep in touch with your professors.” Chandra still corresponds with Professor Jason Rosenberg, who previously taught Integrative Music Theory at Yale-NUS. Students largely view these problems to be reflections of the small size and young age of the College rather than poor planning by the faculty. While doubt and uncertainty remains, the general consensus has been that the Arts and Humanities major most certainly has a future. Chandra said, “Some people might be put off by the vagueness of the major, but I certainly am not.”
FOR ARTS & HUMANITIES MAJOR What lies in store for the major’s electives?
story Marusa Godina | illustration Rachel Johanna Lim
odule options remain limited for the Arts and Humanities Major, which will go into full swing this August. This is especially the case for dance and theater courses, where only one module will be offered in each area. Moreover, professors for some courses have not yet been confirmed. While this a concern for many current and prospective Arts and Humanities major, students remain optimistic. The limited module options in Arts and Humanities is an important factor for students still deciding their majors. Chng Yi Kai ’18 is concerned about the lack of theater courses offered in the past two years. He also expressed that the current sole theater module,
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Contemporary Reality Theater, was trying to cover too much. “The course wants to do both verbatim theater and devised theater. It is also both theoretical and practical. So I do not understand what the module really wants to do.” Yap Zhi Wen ’17 said that her main concern is the lack of advanced courses: “Our school is really small, so a lot of the courses are basic level introductory courses ... You do not get an in-depth look in specific areas.” These problems are likely to be addressed in the near future. Mark Joyce, Director of Art and Professor of Art Practice, said in an email interview, “There are many intermediate and advanced courses in planning and these will
SPECIAL TO THE OCTANT:
19 FOSSIL FREE YALE PROTESTERS GENDER NEUTRAL
THREATENED WITH ARREST AT
WOODBRIDGE HALL SIT-IN story and photo Larry Milstein
ew Haven - Months after promising to escalate its tactics in the wake of the Yale Corporation’s refusal to divest from fossil fuels, Fossil Free Yale staged a sit-in inside Woodbridge Hall. Shortly before 9 am Thursday, 48 members of FFY entered the seat of the Yale administration and refused to leave unless the administration “publicly [committed] to reconsider fossil fuel divestment, and [explained] why the conversation on divestment needs to be reopened.” During the afternoon, roughly 150 protesters congregated outside the building, encircling it in a human chain. Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins then issued a 5 pm deadline for the protesters inside the building to exit. Nineteen, however, chose to remain, leading Higgins to threaten arrest. “If anyone here does not want to leave, then you will be arrested,” Higgins told the students. The 19 were then issued “infraction tickets,” which carried a US$92 fine. But in the hours after the students walked out of the back entrance of Woodbridge Hall, waving their tickets before a cheering crowd, conflicting reports of the punitive measures emerged—notably, whether the students had, in fact, been arrested. University spokesman Tom Conroy maintained that no students were arrested. Further, Senior Advisor to the President and Provost Martha Highsmith wrote in an email to the News that the infraction involves paying a fine and the students were not “booked” or arrested. Protesters, however, told a different story. “They said, this is your arrest, this is your warning to leave or we are going to arrest you,” FFY Communications Coordinator Chelsea Watson Yale ’17 said. “We did not leave, so they arrested 19 students in the building.” Watson added that members of FFY left Woodbridge Hall with the understanding that they had been arrested and described the change in the University’s language as “strategic.” “They showed they would rather arrest their students than actually engage in a conversation with us,” said FFY organizer Alexandra Barlowe Yale ’17, one of the 19 students. “I think it is pretty disgusting. But it just makes me feel all the more excited to keep fighting and they should expect to hear more from us soon.” FFY Project Manager Mitchell Barrows Yale
LIVING: SEMINAL, BUT UNOBTRUSIVE column Meghna Basu, May Tay illustration Tong Xueyin
T Above: Students at the Woodbridge Hall sit-in.
’16 said that Higgins called each student one by one to issue the infractions. Barrows added that the students will likely have to appear before the Executive Committee and face any disciplinary action that Yale deems necessary, although he said the specific punishment—which would follow the infractions already issued—is not “set in stone.” Prior to Higgins’ warning to students, University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews told students that their failure to leave the building at 5 pm might result in their “temporary or permanent separation from the University.” Goff-Crews said that the University has a clear process for hearing student concerns regarding the University’s investment policy. She encouraged students to work through the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, whose members are then responsible for conveying student opinions to the Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility. Further, Highsmith said University President Peter Salovey met with students Thursday and will communicate their sentiments to the Corporation. In the seven months since the CCIR’s recommendation against divestment, FFY has staged a number of protests outside Woodbridge Hall. Watson said that working through official administrative channels, such as meeting with the ACIR, has been “completely ineffective,” thus necessitating direct confrontation with the administration. But even after leaving with the tickets in hand, protesters felt the sit-in was successful. Barlowe said the group will continue to increase pressure on the administration in the coming weeks. “We came here to make a point and we made that point,” Barrows said. Larry Milstein reported from New Haven.
his week, the Yale-NUS College administration announced its decision to open up to students the option for gender-neutral housing, and we applaud this decision. By making gender-neutral housing available, we as a community have decided to reject gender binaries and reinforce our commitment to freedom of choice. In a recent Student Government Survey, the student body responded to a question on gender-neutral housing as follows: Do you support having gender-neutral housing in the new campus? (gender-neutral housing is when room/ suite allocation of the new campus does not take gender into account) I don’t care
16% (35 students)
58% (122 students)
25% (52 students)
It is evident the majority of our students—a total of 157 (74%)—will welcome this new policy, some with open arms and others with indifferent ones. There is a significant number of students, however, who will be uncomfortable with this new housing structure: 52 of them (25%). As such, we’d like to explain why we think Yale-NUS’s new housing structure is for the better. We think it will be a seminal but unobtrusive step forward for this institution. Yale-NUS’s previous housing policy was fundamentally problematic because it assumed and reinforced a gender binary. To retain it wholesale would have been profoundly disappointing for a college that has been given a mandate by its founders and students to break new ideological ground. Separating ‘men’ and ‘women’ into concentrations of each other would have been detrimental to having a fluid and unified community of learning— there already exist acutely gendered colloquial names for suites, such as ‘The Testosterone Suite’, ‘The Unicorn Suite’, or the ‘Illuminafrati Suite’. These are nascent indications of greek life, which, while valuable to some students, should not be allowed to grow into a norm for all the rest. Doing so would fortify gender divides, and potentially reinforce gender stereotypes (a reality supported by a number of studies that show links between Greek life and more traditional gender attitudes).
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OPINION Indeed, our choice of suitemates is ultimately based on lifestyle habits such as bedtimes and tolerance levels for noise and mess, to name a few. Thus implicit in this initial housing policy was the assumption that males and females lead two individually homogenous but otherwise differing lifestyles—an assumption that societies world-over need to change. We can and should be pioneers of this change, given that we already have significant support from within the community to do so (see survey results above). Separating ‘males’ and ‘females’ by a corridor, over and above being a regressive reinforcement of gender divide, also created a disconcerting atmosphere around sexuality. The old policy was enforced partially because of parental concerns, as members of the school administration have mentioned to us over the years (including Dean of Students Kyle Farley, in an interview for this piece). The policy therefore implied that sexual health in the college would have been compromised by having a gender-neutral setup—which we feel is an unfair underestimation of our maturity and responsibility as young adults. At present, our college already allows for the free movement of males and females along corridors and into rooms; condoms are even supplied in our Common Lounges. We have been given almost complete free reign with our sexual choices, yet our campus has not become a toxic sex den. The students of YaleNUS have shown that they use their freedom of movement responsibly, and are thus worthy of this expanded freedom of housing choices. We strongly believe students will use this new policy wisely. Even further, by responding to parents’ worries in the form of separating males from females, our previous housing policy failed to consider the members of our community who do not conform to default doctrines of heteronormativity. Members of The G Spot have previously received enquiries from queer and transgender individuals about whether gender-neutral housing was available. Upon hearing that no such option existed, those individuals decided not to apply. Maintaining our previous policy would have been to turn a
blind eye to the reality of human relations, the spectrum of human sexuality, and our friends whose beliefs are not less important than ours. Before making this important decision, however, Mr. Farley and Student Government members commented in a Student Government meeting that ‘we are already progressive with our co-ed floors’. They highlighted that many colleges in the U.S. still don’t have mixed housing; Mr. Farley pointed out that the introduction of mixed housing at Yale University is also very new. Some could argue, then, that this move is all too fast: if America isn’t even doing it, why should we? Constantly comparing ourselves to American colleges is just not constructive. The framework of American universities do not define what is ‘progressive’: we are our own college, and we should define our own value set. The very ethos of setting up a liberal arts college in Singapore was to challenge and redefine norms, beginning with our model of education unique to Asia. At present, there are no gender-neutral suites in the whole undergraduate landscape of Singapore, and we are now the first to offer such an option. Let’s not forget that many of us enrolled to this school to push boundaries—personal
ones, pedagogical ones, and, most importantly, ideological ones. It is critical to note, however, that opting for gender-neutral housing solely for the sake of pushing boundaries is a potential tendency that we should avoid. The policy as a whole does not fall into this trap, as it turns over the choice for taking on mixed housing to us. Individually, though, as Mr. Farley warned us in an interview, we shouldn’t be opting for neutral housing just because we each want to break norms. Taking on a ‘mixed’ suite just because it seems cool and avant-garde would not be constructive either. However, we as a community are already pushing boundaries amongst ourselves. The Yale-NUS community is already substantially gender-fluid everywhere beyond suite areas— physical movement and ideological exchanges between students are already salient. Thus, the authors of this piece don’t think this change will overly transform the way we live. All that it will bring is institutional backing and reinforcement of the values we as a community already hold, making this change seminal but unobtrusive. Thank you Yale-NUS Administration, thank you Student Government, and thank you students for precipitating this move. We can’t wait to move in next year.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR I refer to Soh Wee Yang’s opinion article, “A Hollow Core.” While his concerns are valid, our college does have a core value system, albeit one that is not widely discussed or mentioned. The Disciplinary Policies and Procedures set forth by the Dean of Students’ Office explicitly mentions what being a part of “a community of learning” entails: “ethical
conduct and respect for norms for civil behaviour.”1 Nonetheless, much of our student population appear unaware of these guidelines. This begs the question—how effective are shared values if they are merely symbolic? I believe that moving forward, we need to have a genuine conversation on how our community can live out these values, whether these values
truly represent the community, or whether we need a shared value system at all. Ultimately, a shared value system needs to have tangible outcomes—otherwise it will just be empty rhetoric. —Adam Goh ’18 1 “Disciplinary Policies and Procedures.” http://studentlife.yale-nus.edu. sg/policies/disciplinary-policies-and-procedures/. The reference further defines what it means by “ethical conduct” and “respect for norms for civil behaviour.”
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Volume III Issue 12