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NEWS

VOL. 3, ISSUE 2

TUESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2015

YALE-NUS, SINGAPORE

YALE-NUS HIRES NEW FACULTY story Yonatan Gazit, May Tay | reporting Scott Currie, Ying Tong Lai |

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ver the past week, Yale-NUS College saw a flurry of new faces as it held a round of faculty hiring workshops. During the workshop on Jan. 19 and 20, interested students had the opportunity to sit down with 22 potential faculty over lunch or dinner. Afterwards, each student was asked to give feedback about the candidate. Yale-NUS is seeking to recruit approximately 20 to 30 new faculty members, a substantial addition to the current 72, according to Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn and Director of Faculty Affairs Navin Raj. The January workshop was the third of five planned for this academic year, with the final two happening in February and March of 2015. No faculty will be hired for the Economics, Psychology and Art departments. According to Mr. Bailyn, around three applicants are invited to the workshops for each position the school is looking to fill, and approximately 100 candidates in total will have visited the school over the five workshops. Additional considerations go into faculty hiring at a new college like Yale-NUS. Mr Bailyn pointed out that while all of the candidates are very impressive and talented, merit alone is not enough to land a position. Review committees look at prospective faculty’s teaching ability and potential for working with the current staff and with one another to help build a new curriculum and institution. Students tend to have good insight into an applicant’s ability as a teacher, Mr. Bailyn said—an additional benefit to having students sit down with candidates for meals. After each meeting, students in attendance fill out forms with their feedback on the professors they met. The forms are then forwarded to one of 17 review committees, depending on the professor’s specialization, according to Dean’s Fellow Regina Markle. Typically, students’ feedback tend to align with feedback from other parts of the hiring process, Mr. Bailyn shared. However, “if there is a discrepancy … that’s a sign we have to think carefully about what’s actually going on, and why people had the impressions they did,” he said. An email was sent out to all Yale-NUS students a week before the workshop, asking volunteers to sign up for meals with prospective faculty. Roshan Singh ’18 enjoyed the

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photo Yale-NUS Public Affairs

Prospective faculty attend a workshop during the 2012 recruitment process.

conversations he had with faculty candidates. “One of the best things about the process was that you can almost see that the professors feel just as excited about this place as [we do] ... it’s almost reminiscent of the way I felt when applying here,” he added. Jay Lusk ’18, who attended two meals with faculty candidates, had a similar view and was grateful students have a say in the academic landscape at Yale-NUS. The students are one of the biggest attractions of the college, so a chance to meet them face-to-face in an informal setting helps

get applicants more interested in accepting a position at Yale-NUS, according to Mr Bailyn. “The faculty members who want to teach the kinds of students we have here are exactly the kind of faculty members we want,” he said. “As long as we can keep that cycle high … [and] have good faculty and good students, good things will happen.” As of Jan. 23, four Social Science and two Science candidates have accepted positions at Yale-NUS. Mr. Bailyn said that by the beginning of April, most if not all of next semester’s faculty will have been determined.

HOW FACULTY IS HIRED AT YALE-NUS 1. Prospective faculty apply. 2. Respective review committees shortlist candidates to interview over Skype, or in person at research conferences. 3. Further shortlisted candidates are invited to campus to participate in recruitment workshops. The workshops include lunch meetings with students and research talks with faculty. 4. Candidates are first considered by the search committee for that particular field, then by the division, and finally by the appointments committee. 5. The Governing Board gives final approval for each appointment.


NEWS/FEATURE

MUSIC TO

THE EARS? story Yonatan Gazit, May Tay reporting Li Ting Chan

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n December 12, 2014, the student body received an email from the Registry about the Module Registration Exercise for the next semester. In it was the announcement that Integrative Music Theory 2 (IMT2) would no longer be offered. Yale-

NUS College is currently looking to expand the music program and to support students interested in pursuing studies in music. The cancellation of IMT2 coincided with the leaving of Professor of Humanities (Music) Jason Rosenberg. On his departure from Yale-NUS, Dr. Rosenberg replied in an email, “Though I have my degree now, there was an issue temporarily preventing me from officially having my Ph.D. in hand during the last semester, putting my degree status in conflict with my faculty appointment.” Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn declined to comment. Without a clear robust music program, students planning on taking IMT2 who are interested in pursuing a music minor or major may not have the resources to do so, Anne

Caroline Franklin ’17 said. By mid-March, members of the inaugural Class of 2017 will have to declare their majors. According to Saga College Rector Weiss, who is also an anthropologist of music, the music department will officially begin hiring in August of 2015. In the meantime, Yale-NUS is looking for someone to fill in as Director of Student Music until July. The College has also been building bridges with NUS’ Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, where two students will be taking classes this semester. Jevon Chandra ’17 is grateful for efforts to build up the music program. “After talking to [several members of the staff and faculty], I know they are doing a ton of things to bring people in … [and] stop the gap,” he said.

BEYOND RESIDENTIAL COLLEGE FOUR story Rachel Lim Cheng Woon | photo used with permission from Teo Xiao Ting

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henever she seeks some peace and quiet, Teo Xiao Ting ’18 can be found sitting on the pavilion steps of the tranquil Japanese Cemetery Park (825B Chuan Hoe Ave, 549853), with a book and a cup of bubble tea in hand. “I stumbled upon it because I was looking for a quiet place that is chill, without any humans,” Teo said. Nestled within a quiet neighbourhood in Hougang, this cemetery is said to be the largest and best-preserved Japanese cemetery in Southeast Asia. She dismissed the notion that the cemetery is creepy, as the cemetery is well kept with lush greenery and a beautiful pavilion. “I don’t know the spirits there so they don’t have any reason to do anything to me,” she added. She visits this hideout regularly to also catch up with the caretakers of the park, who have became her friends over repeated visits. She said, “I go there to read, or literally do nothing. There was this particular grave I passed and saw that its death anniversary was the next week, so I brought a flower the next time I visited.” Teo is one of the many students who take time to venture out of campus to explore Singapore’s many hidden gems that reveal exciting food finds, tranquil hideouts and culturally rich areas. With the dining hall, seminar rooms and sports facilities a little more than an elevator ride away, many students have found themselves comfortable staying on campus. But this has not stopped many from exploring beyond the campus and finding their own favorite spots in Singapore. Hunter Shaw ’18 said his favorite area in Singapore is the Arab Quarter. There, vibrant streets are packed with shops selling all kinds of textiles, carpets and jewelry. “I get my fabric [for tailoring] off a man in the Arab Quarter,

A walkway of bougainvilleas on a beautiful afternoon at the Japanese Cemetery Park.

so when I feel like working with textiles, that would be my favorite place,” he said. Shaw enjoys the process of designing his own clothes. “I like clothes, and in the United States it would be far too expensive to have things custom-made. So [tailoring clothes here] is more affordable. I also have the ability to pick out the exact fabric I like. It is a lot of fun searching for the material and going to my tailor and saying, maybe I want a doublebreasted, or with three buttons…” While some students may be inclined not to leave campus, Shaw said, “I definitely need my sort of space. Every once in a while, I start being crazy just being around campus all the time so I go out and walk around.” Foodies may want to visit River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles (31 Tai Thong Crescent, Singapore 347859), a favorite of Dylan Ho ’17. Ho, a self-proclaimed prawn noodle

connoisseur, said, “It’s super good. I think it is the top of the top three prawn noodles in Singapore.” He visited the eatery frequently in his childhood, but admitted it is inconvenient to go there without a car. “I went there from school once and it took one hour to get there and one hour to get back. So it’s a two hour payoff to eat prawn noodles.” However, he said he will and does go back there when he goes home for the weekend. Nothing beats having a place to escape the stress and insularity of student life. Too often we remain solely focused on our academics, commitments and friends here. Taking a physical step back can also give one a mental break and clarity of perception. Despite its relatively small size, Singapore offers a variety of places where one can indulge an interest, make memories, or just relax. All it takes is an adventurous spirit to explore beyond RC4.

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SPORTS

MAJOR HURDLES

FOR MINORITY SPORTS Khoo (left) representing Singapore in the Commonwealth Fencing Championships 2014.

story Xie Yihao | photo used with permission from Willie Khoo

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ou might have watched fencing at The Olympic Games on TV. You might also have tried figure-skating for fun. But have you ever played these sports alongside professional and semi-professional athletes? Now it’s possible. Former (and current) competitive figure-skaters and fencers at YaleNUS College are more than willing to showcase their talent and passion with more students. Three competitive fencers from the Class of 2017—Sean Saito, Jon Ho and Willie Khoo—are keen to share their experience and fencing techniques. Both Ho and Khoo have worked as professional coaches. They also have experience in conducting lessons for beginners. Jane Zhang ’18, a former competitive figure-skater, is also happy to teach some figure-skating moves to more students. She invited eight classmates to skate at The Rink in JCube last semester. “[I] helped them get their bearings on the ice and got to know them better,” said Zhang. Although Zhang does not plan to skate competitively anymore, she looks forward to skating with her friends for fun. While Ho, Saito and Khoo are willing to share their passion and skills in fencing with a broader student population, they have yet to register as an official club. Instead, Ho and Saito attended sessions in NUS Fencing in their freshman year. Other students who are

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interested are encouraged to do the same, at least for now. The fencers said that their plan to start Yale-NUS’s own fencing club is still “in the works”. There are high barriers to entry to fencing, and a significant hurdle is the high cost. As Ho explained, “there is a really high start-up cost because of the sheer number of different pieces of equipment. There are a lot of pieces, [and] they are also very expensive.” The commitment the sport requires is another source of hesitation in starting the club. According to Saito, fencing is a sport that requires sustained and disciplined training. Khoo added that given the diverse student organizations already present in Yale-NUS, it will be uncertain how willing people are to devote energy and time to routine fencing trainings. Similar cost and commitment constraints prevent the formation of a figure-skating club. The commitment problem is even more pronounced—if Yale-NUS’s figure-skaters were to represent the college to compete in tournaments, they will have to sacrifice other aspects of college life. Zachary Mahon ’17 used to train alongside Olympic medalists Patrick Chan and Yuna Kim. However, advancing to the next level of figure-skating would have come at the expense

of other things in life. “Everything was starting to require much more commitment [in high school], it forced me to choose—I guess I sided on not giving everything up [for skating],” explained Mahon. Unlike the figure-skaters, the fencing trio have plans to participate in tournaments as independent Yale-NUS teams. They are optimistic that the increase of student population and athletic facilities in the near future will enable minority sports groups such as fencing to form regular clubs and teams. The ultimate goal is for the fencing club to “provide better, more rigorous trainings and [to] actually compete in competitions”, said Ho.

Correction: Volume II Issue 7 dated November 8, 2014 It has come to our attention that while the article “A Good Problem” reported that all untagged bicycles in Residential College Four’s storage room were thrown out, only bicycles in bad condition were thrown out. The Yale-NUS administration has clarified that they have always intended to donate the bicycles in good condition.


OPINION

YALE-NUS’ STEPSIBLING SYNDROME

column Jessica Teng Sijie | cartoon Tong Xueyin

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rankings cannot compete with Yale, and culturally, it is true that NUS does not uphold lofty ideals (e.g. freedom of speech) with the same dedication. Yale-NUS students seem to experience a collective sense of superiority, one that is fueled by the reality of Yale-NUS exceptionalism in matters of free speech and alcohol consumption. Our low admission rates and liberal arts curriculum, which moves away from the traditionally Singaporean style of learning, also add to that impression. Thus, the Yale-NUS partnership is seen to be unequal and we find ourselves, subconsciously or otherwise, inching closer to Yale. These aspirations to be part of the Ivy League family can be summed up in the psychological complex known as “stepsibling syndrome”—a collective longing for acceptance by those who hail from a more established birth. In our efforts to forge a school identity, complications are unavoidable because consensus and mass participation are necessary. At a school like Yale-NUS, where the administration refrains from imposing who we are in top-down fashion, we have the power to steer the discourse surrounding this issue. Yes, some of us will always feel more warmly towards Yale, having spent a few weeks in New Haven. As a double-degree student, I must admit that I have a vested interest in securing more amiable feelings towards NUS. Regardless of our personal inclinations, it is beneficial for us as a community to do all we can to live up to the oft-quoted saying that Yale-NUS is where “1+1 = 3”. Yale provides the soft power and NUS generously shares its resources—that is the reality of the situation, and our quest for independence should not be colored by our selective hostility towards the latter. Ultimately, we cannot choose our family, even if we want to. Yale-NUS is not as established as Yale, and we are not an Ivy League institution. And we do not have to be one. We should stop clinging onto the brand name like stepsiblings desperate for a place at the table. At the same time, we should regard NUS more positively and stop indulging in our superiority complex. The first step to creating our school identity: self-acceptance.

ollege students stay up for a variety of reasons, and last semester’s HarvardYale game was one of them. Live from Harvard stadium, the breathtaking match unfolded to the cheers of sleep-deprived YaleNUS College students, proudly attired in Yale University tees. Although this may only seem to be a spirited show of allegiance to our sister school, it reflects something about Yale-NUS’s nascent school identity. As a fledgling institution, our college has sought to define our relationships with both Yale and the National University of Singapore (NUS), and the enthusiastic turnout for the Harvard-Yale game affirms the positivity of our partnership with Yale. However, the strength of our reception to Yale traditions and culture, should make us uneasy when we juxtapose it with our rejection of NUS. Previous pieces in The Octant, such as Raeden Richardson’s “What are we playing for?”, espouse a desire for distance from NUS in favor of an independent YaleNUS identity. Our choice of associations is a crucial part of our identity-creation process, and while opinions such as the one above are not necessarily flawed or unjustified, it is problematic that Yale-NUS students tend to

cherry pick these associations. What we choose to wear is a public declaration of which team we prefer to play for. Many of us clamor to don Yale shirts while disregarding NUS merchandise. The fact that our ties to NUS are a point of contention, while aligning ourselves as closely as possible to Yale is not, highlights a hypocrisy in the way we view our relationships with Yale and NUS. The question is: are we overcompensating for something? The defiant proclamations of “I didn’t come to Singapore to be part of NUS” seem to be founded on a rather idealistic projection of Yale-NUS as more Yale than NUS. This is only to be expected, as some of us rejected world-class institutions (Princeton, the London School of Economics etc.) to be part of this new venture and wish to view Yale-NUS as an equally strong alternative. On the flip side, there are also a few of us who considered Yale-NUS only after receiving rejections from Yale, and it is natural to perceive Yale-NUS as a sort of Ivy League substitute. Nevertheless, comments of this sort suggest an underlying insecurity about who we are as an institution. Our wish to disassociate ourselves from NUS can be attributed to our perception of it as inferior. Its academic university

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