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    Sep 23, 2016

    At least 14 punished over NUS orientation activities

    ACTION has been taken against at least 14 undergraduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS) for their role in inappropriate orientation activities, in July, The Straits Times learnt.

    Sources said the punishment included warnings without record and mandatory community service.

    It is understood that the students were involved in organising or facilitating orientation camps, including the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Students' Union.

    It is understood that the undergraduates can appeal against the decisions.

    When contacted, NUS declined to give details, citing a need to maintain privacy and fairness of the proceedings.

    In July, The New Paper reported on the risque orientation games that freshmen were asked to play, including one that simulated rape.

    Student-organised orientation activities were suspended on July 29, except some such as the NUS Student Union's Rag and Flag activities.

    The suspension was gradually lifted from Aug 8.

    According to sources, the university's investigation began at the start of August.

    Sources say orientation group leaders and student camp councillors were summoned to the session facilitated by staff from the university's Office of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

    They were given questionnaires which asked about the sexualised games, whether the student did anything to stop it and who led the activities.

    Staff then went through the questionnaires with each student individually.

    A disciplinary board was convened and at least 14 students - including orientation camp leaders, orientation group leaders and student camp councillors - appeared before a panel of faculty members and student representatives.

    The university found that some students contravened rules. Some examples include using unapproved items during orientation activities, consumption of alcohol beyond university-designated premises and events and providing false information during investigations.

    Help from the NUS law faculty's pro-bono group was offered to the undergraduates to help them understand legal terms used in the process.

    Delane Lim, chief executive of international youth development firm FutuReady Asia, said the university's administration should be held accountable for a "lack of supervision by the management".

    "Right now, it is telling the public that it is entirely the fault of the students."

    Meanwhile, the university has convened a 14-member Orientation Review Committee to review and make recommendations for improvement.

    Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS' deputy president (academic affairs) and provost, said the committee has been asked to "consider new approaches to freshman orientation" and look at current practices that should be extended and preserved.