I am quite surprised by NUS’ bold and quite unprecedented move. They have cancelled the freshmen orientation week that was supposed to commence next week. That’s right. The annual freshmen orientation week, the activities that are designed to welcome freshmen to the start of their university education, won’t quite be happening this year.
Alright, it’s not like the entire freshmen orientation week has been cancelled. Rag and Flag activities will still happen. But it sounds like pretty much anything else in O Week, as the Freshmen Orientation Week is also called, is off.
This comes after reports of inappropriate behaviour at earlier orientation camps this year. Amid much public outcry that such undesirable activities have been an ongoing affair year after year, it seems this time around, NUS has finally been forced to actually take some concrete action.
That concrete action seems drastic. Cancelling freshmen orientation week is disrupting a university tradition.
To some extent, the students have brought this upon themselves. The university administration has over the years tried to handle the matter with a light touch. University students are not children. They are adults, or at least young adults. It makes sense for the university to give them opportunities to act and behave as adults.
But alas, the students are sabotaging themselves.
On the other hand, this is a lesson for them to learn.
Wanting to be treated as young adults, to be given autonomy, freedom to make decisions and to direct as they please, well all that comes with responsibilities. Whatever they choose to do, there are consequences. Whatever they choose to not do, there are consequences.
I can understand that some student leaders are going to think, hey, this is so unfair, that just because of a few black sheep, everyone had to suffer. Yup, that’s right, that’s how life is.
It shall be interesting to see if this becomes the new norm. A new NUS where orientation activities are like those of, say, secondary schools, with supervision by the real adults. I don’t think it is likely to happen. But perhaps the NUS administration has had it with the university drawing too much public attention for the wrong reasons, like showing up on BBC news website as being one of the top Asian news.