By: B Goode
For a lot of Singapore students, the path to University is paved by hardwork, homework, tuition, tuition, tuition, anal parents, discipline, brand’s essence of chicken, chaperoned outings, dance classes, piano lessons, latchkeys and repressed emotions.
It is like living in a gulag.
Teenagers with raging hormones living in a controlled environment is like an overflowing dam waiting to burst.
So having travelled that wretched path and finally getting into a University and living in a student hostel, it feels, smells and tastes like….freedom.
And when they get together in an orientation camp with little or no supervision, all those past inhibitions and tensions are suddenly let loose in an orgy of seemingly wanton debauchery.
The dam has burst.
Future camps have since been cancelled, the Student Union has apologised and the NUS have promised a thorough re-think of future camps. The students involved however feel that they have been misunderstood and say that actions and reactions against them are unwarranted and unjustified.
So is it fair?
In re-thinking future camps, the NUS must not curtail the students’ exuberance in experiencing their new found freedom. University life must not be made into just a continuation of the miserable path of discipline that the students have to undertake in getting into the University. It has to embrace the fact that for most of the students, they are transitioning into adults.
On the other hand, overly-protective parents send their children to the University not to be molested. The parents need to be given some assurances that their precious children will continue to be protected. They need to be given a little more time to realise that their Ah Boy and Girl-Girl are actually grown-ups now.
My suggestion is for future camps to be organised by professional team-building groups; sort of the team-building exercises that most companies now have during their annual retreats. Let’s be honest, orientation camps organised by young adults with repressed childhood, for similar young adults with repressed childhood will lead and have led to seemingly unbridled and unrestrained eyebrow-raising activities,
Having the camps organised by professional team-building groups will, although not perfect, allow the students to discover and experience their new unfettered lives while at the same time giving the parents a modicum of comfort that their precious life investments will be supervised somewhat.