VOL. 3, ISSUE 3
EDITORS’ NOTE As a start-up publication, The Octant has always made it a point to look to other established publications and learn from their experiences. Yale Daily News—The Oldest College Daily Established 1878—was an obvious choice and one of the first publications we approached when starting out. As of today, with more than a year’s experience under our belts and a full-fledged team working regularly, The Octant will be
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officially entering into a student-initiated collaboration with Yale Daily News. Over the past two years, geographical constraints have limited interaction between students at both campuses. We hope to overcome these constraints and increase interaction through the exchange of news between both campuses. Both publications will share articles weekly, and readers can enjoy first-hand reporting on all issues of student life at Yale University and Yale-NUS College. For future issues, an article from Yale Daily News will be uploaded regularly on our website. Through this
collaboration, we aim to engage our readers in lasting conversations which will lead to greater understanding between students at Yale and Yale-NUS. We hope you enjoy the shared articles, and we look forward to working together with Yale Daily News. Sincerely, Joyan Tan, Editor-in-Chief Spandana Bhattacharya, Editor-at-Large
HACKING THE WAY THROUGH story Li Ting Chan | reporting Scott Currie, Ying Tong Lai |
photo used with permission from Sean Saito
f turning ideas into reality sounds like something you would want to do, then participating in a hack-a-thon might just be for you. Over Jan. 25-26, four YaleNUS College students participated in NUS Hack&Roll 2015 and clinched third place with their final product—‘Oculus Drift’. At Hack&Roll, teams were given 24 hours to develop a concept, build a prototype of it, and then present it. Put simply, the idea behind Hack&Roll was to “make something cool,” Parag Bhatnagar ’17 said. Within a day, Aaron Ong ’18, Hrishi Olickel ’18, Sean Saito ’17, and Bhatnagar integrated a small toy car and virtual reality technology to create a product that allows users to simulate the experience of driving in a race car. Team members also had the opportunity to interact with sponsors of Hack&Roll over the course of the competition. Since the conclusion of the hack-a-thon, Palantir, one of the sponsors, has offered internship placements to members of the team from Yale-NUS. Placing third at Hack&Roll marks a milestone in the history of YNC_Hacks—a student organization co-founded by, amongst others, Bhatnagar and Olickel. The role of YNC_Hacks, according to Olickel, is to “foster an environment that encourages innovation.” Bhatnagar hopes that the club will be able to encourage and support the growth of information technology literacy amongst students at Yale-NUS. This was the first time a team from Yale-NUS took part in Hack&Roll,
The team working to create Oculus Drift.
Bhatnagar said, and participating in similar competitions in future would allow more proficient programmers to hone their skills. Since its inception, YNC_Hacks has also organized workshops for Yale-NUS students, according to Dean’s Fellow Nishant Jalgaonkar. One such example is the R programming workshop held on Jan. 18. This came at a good time for freshmen taking the Quantitative Reasoning course which uses the programming language R, Mr. Jalgaonkar said. Learning how to hack—exploiting system weaknesses and developing interesting combinations of existing technology—is important for everyone, Mr. Jalgaonkar said.
“We have classes in literature, and beyond your classroom you can engage with those skills through the Writer’s Centre, but you don’t have that type of equivalent for your classes in programming. YNC_Hacks can be that for the Yale-NUS community,” he said. YNC_Hacks is currently working on several projects, such as “spoofing the access cards for your room onto your phone, so you can use your phone to unlock your door,” according to Olickel. Students interviewed agreed that the most exciting part of the club is working on innovative projects for their own enjoyment. “We’re kids with Legos, that’s what we are,” Olickel said.
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NEWS/FEATURE FROM YALE DAILY NEWS:
YALE TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVEY story Vivian Wang, Yale Daily News staff reporter
ale University has signed up to participate in a survey being conducted throughout the United States about sexual assault in higher education—one of the largest such polls in history. The survey, to be coordinated by the Association of American Universities (AAU)— of which Yale is a member—is intended to help universities gain a better understanding of the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, AAU President Hunter Rawlings said in a Jan. 22 press release. He added that each participating university will distribute the questionnaire to its students, and the subsequent results will inform future policy decisions by college administrators. AAU Vice President for Public Affairs Barry Toiv said the survey is expected to reach nearly 900,000 students nationwide and will provide school-specific information as well as aggregate national data. “This [survey] will provide a treasure trove of data on national student experiences and attitudes,” Mr. Toiv said. The survey drew participation from 28 universities. Participation was made entirely optional to the AAU’s 62 member institutions, Mr. Toiv said. Yale signed up for the survey to gain a better understanding of the issue of sexual assault, both at the University and on other campuses, said Deputy Provost and University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler.
Some of the universities that chose not to participate have their own internal surveys that are either already complete or planned for the near future. Ricardo Alcaíno, Title IX coordinator for the University of California Santa Barbara, said all of the California public schools declined the offer because they had conducted an extensive California-system-wide survey just a few years ago. “A lot of the information has been very useful, and we’re still digesting it,” he said. “We’re trying to drill down on what we have, and we’re still in that process, so we didn’t necessarily want to jump into another survey process.” Mr. Alcaíno added that a school-specific survey is not necessarily better than a nationwide survey. The California schools will be eager to see the results of the AAU survey when they are published, he said. When asked about how applicable aggregate data is to an individual university’s policies, Ms. Spangler said more information is always welcome. “The better we understand the problem, the better we can address it,” she said. Alexa Derman ’18, Yale Women’s Center public relations coordinator, said members of her organization are glad the issue is receiving widespread attention and stimulating coordinated action between universities. According to the press release, the same survey will be administered to all participating
universities. However, each survey will also have five campus-specific questions that are designed to gauge students’ familiarity with the resources available at their own schools. Mr. Toiv declined to comment further on the contents of the survey, but he added that its composition will be based on an instrument designed by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. US President Barack Obama commissioned this task force in January 2014 to streamline and consolidate the federal government’s response to rape on college campuses. Several member universities, including Yale, have also had the chance to provide feedback on the survey instrument, Spangler said. When the Yale College Council and Women’s Center jointly released their own survey on sexual assault on Jan. 14, none of the students interviewed by the News said they had completed it, although several said they intended to eventually. To maximize responses to the AAU survey, Mr. Toiv said, the AAU will utilize multiple incentives, including a lottery. “We … hope the survey will help policymakers gain a better understanding of the problem, and that it will make a significant contribution to the growing body of research on sexual assault,” Mr. Rawlings said in the press release. He did not return requests for comment. The survey will be offered beginning in April.
JUGGLING A JOB WITH SCHOOL story Anna Evtushenko |
photo Pareen Chaudhari
famous saying goes: “Sleep, Study, Socialize: Choose Two”. It remains a mystery to this day how Yale-NUS College students often manage all three. And not just that: some manage a job as well. With so little time to spare, students tend to choose jobs for more than money. For John Reid ’17, working at the Yale-NUS Cognition and Attention Lab with Professor Christopher Asplund caters to his interests in psychology and programming, offering an insight into researchers’ daily life. Reid explained, “our work has to do with particular attentionbased studies and making sure everything goes smoothly, from code to experiment—the nittygritty stuff.” To Reid, this is also a rare chance to get to know a professor on a deeper level. Aaron Kurzak ’17 applied to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore after a Week 7 trip piqued his interest in energy
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resources. “I went on to email the CEO because the usual contact emails often don’t work,” he said, explaining how he got the job. Working for ten hours a week all of last year, Kurzak helped write grant proposals and build a photovoltaic element for solar panels. Having gained real work experience, he is now looking to join the German Embassy in Singapore or a bank. Although Thu Truong ’18 initially planned to work for the library, she joined the Dean of Students Office instead. “Yale-NUS is still quite new, and a lot of policies, for example, regarding minors and club funding, are not in place. What I help with is background research about such policies in other liberal arts colleges, and drafting our own,” she said. The novel experience has helped Truong become more organized and resourceful. Still, holding down a job requires skillful
Shiok Shack student associate cooks in action.
time management and sacrifices. Truong, who works eight to ten hours a week, said, “It is tiring, indeed, and there are days I have Continued on page 3:
REVIEW: LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2015
Laneway 2015’s two main stages.
review and photo Kavya Gopal
ince its inception in 2011, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival has been unlike any other undertaking in Singapore’s indie music scene. Held for the third time in the Meadows at Gardens by the Bay, this year’s line-up expanded to include an extra timeslot to accommodate more local talent from Singapore and Malaysia. It is no surprise then that the festival, for the first time, sold out all 13,000 of its tickets two days before the event on Jan. 24. Here’s a quick rundown of some of this year’s highlights. Malaysian band Enterprise started the day with a sparse audience. Their upbeat tunes got a few to their feet, but it wasn’t until Perth’s Pond took the stage that the party got started. Comprised of wandering musicians from bands like Tame Impala, rock band Pond was the first act of the day to truly get the crowds trickling
in with their synth vibes. Despite intermittent showers and technical difficulties, Mac Demarco soldiered on with his on-stage antics and his cheeky cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”. Equally memorable were indie sweethearts Angus & Julia Stone, with their rendition of “You’re the One that I Want”. Chet Faker played on the Cloud Stage to a tightly packed audience. At 6:45 pm the magic of Jungle got crowds dancing to retro-future tunes. Live, this band expands from two to seven members and they attracted large crowds. Spearheading the line-up this year were female leads BANKS, FKA twigs and St. Vincent. While BANKS’s dark and striking vocals set the scene for the night, the showstopper of the festival was British-born Tahliah Barnett who was a vision in gold leopard-print. Better known by her stage
name FKA twigs, Barnett put on an ethereal performance, packed with haunting and soulful vocals. Her fluid movements effortlessly filled the expanse of the stage, reflecting her stint as a professional dancer. Wowing the crowds with her hit single “Two Weeks”, and ending on an older but equally mesmerising “Water Me”, FKA twigs’s departure from the Bay Stage was met with disappointment. Luckily, Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, was quick to fill the void with her musical prowess on the guitar, and was clad in a black leather cheongsam. Her fun pop melodies, and equally quirky robotic dance moves were a resounding end to the festival. Laneway 2015 has spoiled festival goers with great performances and delicious albeit overpriced food. We hope next year’s Laneway addresses the issues with sound and the limited audience capacity of the Cloud Stage.
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out with customer service, menu and feedback, and became Assistant Manager,” she said. Quek found a way to combine passion and work and learned the quirks of running a café along the way. “I might want to open my own restaurant one day,” she said. The skills gained at the Shiok Shack are important for Quek, so she is ready to sacrifice some of her study time for her job. “I have [also] decided to focus only on those extracurricular activities that I am passionate about and are important to my personal development,” she added.
According to Zhana Sandeva, Program Manager of CIPE Career Services, nearly 100 students are employed as Student Associates; about 20% of them have more than one job. There are currently 11 open Student Associate positions offered through CIPE. Be it a hobby, something that enhances the academic experience, or a position you might have never imagined, there is a job for everyone, at the college or beyond. Taking time to do additional work comes at a cost, but can be worth it, both for the money and more.
to stay up till 5[am], but I love everything I’m doing.” She is also grateful to have a supervisor, Student Life Manager Chris O’Connell, who accommodates her available hours, she said. While a job is often seen as separate from hobbies, Rachel Quek ’18 managed to combine both. “I always liked cooking,” she said, “and so joined the Shiok Shack as a cook as soon as I could.” However, as a start-up enterprise, it was not very efficient. “[So] I started helping
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EMBARRASSING ELECTION CAMPAIGNS ENDANGER OUR FUTURE column and photo illustration Enkhzul Badral
t began when nominations for Student Government Elections opened on January 7, 2015. Unamusing cat posters and memes were found online and plastered around campus, urging students to nominate worthy candidates. Then, on Jan. 22 when candidates were confirmed, the campaign posters began littering our elevators and bulletin boards. These posters read phrases like, “Wow. Much Dependable. Such Advocacy.” and “Vote beauty.” “This student government will set a precedent for those to come. A good start is important,” David Chappell of Saga College said in his statement of intent. I wholeheartedly agree. If the student government campaigns set a precedent for coming elections, we should be worried. So far they have been nothing but an embarrassment. It seems that those campaign posters which pander to our short attention spans are indeed the only way candidates can let the rest of our student body know who exactly is running. As of Jan. 29, the Statements of Intent on the Yale-NUS Elections 2015 Facebook page had zero likes. Is it not shameful that we have to resort to doge and Professor Dog memes to make sure a candidate’s name isn’t being seen for
the first time as a student casts their vote? An informative and serious poster would still fulfill the purpose of letting students know who is running, and yet there were none. Alex Meyer’s poster was the closest thing to what I have wanted to see over the past twelve days, and it still failed to inform us of anything other than his phone and room number. Consider Simonas Bartulis’ poster, the aforementioned “Vote beauty” campaign. While memorable, the poster suggests that students should value looks over what a candidate’s strengths and goals are. Had this been at any other college, I might think that it reflects an incompetent student body that cannot handle serious issues. Certainly, this suspicion would be reinforced by posters like Daniel Silverman’s. My (least) favorite poster of his reads, “My favorite element is Ag Because It’s The Closest To Silverman.” What kind of leadership qualities does this poster demonstrate? What kind of values is this poster indicative of ? Other candidates created posters and online images that were at best cute or silly, and the remaining candidates did nothing at all. Imagine the embarrassment we will feel in 20 years’ time when reflecting on our first Student Government elections. Consider the professors and visitors, who see the posters
Above: An example of what we haven’t been seeing over the last twelve days.
LETTER TO THE EDITORS
in our elevators and ask, “What is that?” They did not read our statements of intent; they did not attend our speeches last Saturday. They only see that our student body seems ill-equipped to cast informed votes and that our elected representatives seem unready for the responsibility they will shoulder as of Feb. 6. These posters are the most viewed and easiest method of communicating with our administration and student body, yet candidates have opted for trite slogans squandering their best way of informing their community. But it is not just the candidates we have to blame; the student body too is at fault. I spent Jan. 28 casually asking students who they were going to vote for, and each responded that they were too busy with other activities to actually pay attention to Student Government. The voting constituency has idly allowed elections to turn into a popularity contest, a contest of who can get the most sniggers and smirks. If we, the students, had demonstrated that we do care about who we are voting for and what our candidates’ goals are, perhaps candidates would have addressed us seriously. Similarly, if candidates had expected more from us at the start, I know we would have risen to the occasion. These popularity campaigns indicate that candidates are not ready for their positions, and that the student body is not ready to cast informed votes. Many of the candidates claim in their Statements of Intent that they will help student groups get more funding, try to improve our health insurance, and facilitate more meaningful feedback through appropriate avenues when problems arise. Yet, a majority of students still don’t know what issues each respective person wants to focus on, and it’s likely people will end up voting only for their friends. If we vote this way, we may not pick the best candidates. If candidates maintain the mentality they have demonstrated until now, I am skeptical our representatives will bring any real change to our community. We postponed voting until now in order to have adequate time and manpower. We made that choice because we wanted to ensure that we have the best start possible. And now we are almost out of time. Voting begins tomorrow, so please, take the few hours we have left to inform yourselves and engage the candidates. We only get one chance to vote in the first Student Government.
Send your letter to the editors (maximum word count 150) to email@example.com by 5 P.M. on Friday for the chance to have it published here next week.
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