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In a scathing letter published in their school journal, Yale-NUS students expressed their frustrations at the liberal college management for curtailing their freedom and not allowing them to freely conduct gatherings in school compound. Calling it a “heavy-handed invocation”, the students criticised the school management for bending forward to the Singapore government:

“First, the abrupt change in policy for College space use was made all the more shocking by its heavy-handed invocation of Singapore’s laws. An email which tried to play down the wide-reaching effects of this decision was sent only to student organization leaders on Feb. 1 about a newly set up “Event Approval Committee” to assess the “desirability and feasibility” (desirable for whom?) of holding an event on campus. Importantly, the policy disallows any event that requires licenses or permits under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (Cap. 257) or a permit under the Public Order Act (Cap. 257A). This is troubling given the former’s provisions regarding “transgender performances”, which raise questions about whether student events broaching these ideas risk censure.”

You may read the full letter by the students here.

A townhall meeting was held a day later on Wednesday (Feb 8) and students voiced their displeasure to the school management. Among the key arguments is the suspension of the Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association’s activities, with no reasons from the school.

However in his media response, the college founding president, Prof Pericles Lewis, defended the government claiming there are “legitimate reasons” behind the bans without explaining further in details:

“Hope that students will begin from a place of charity and consider that administrative decisions they may not like may have legitimate reasons behind them. Furthermore, I would hope that even in a culture of rapid reactions on social media, our students would take the time to think and inform themselves on the issues before jumping to conclusions or publishing those conclusions.”