Another Academic Year is around the corner. On behalf of NUS, let me take this opportunity to welcome all incoming freshmen to joining the NUS community and all seniors to returning to it. You will play an important part in creating an NUS where we watch out for each other, support each other, and help each one of us realise our full potential.
NUS is known to be a competitive environment. It is so perhaps because the world is a competitive environment. Out of a wide field of candidates, perhaps only a handful may be offered a position during a recruitment exercise. Out of dozens of employees, perhaps only one will get that promotion for the year.
However, a competitive environment doesn’t mean that you need to go and cut everyone’s throat! Indeed, especially in a competitive environment, a good support network is particularly important. When you achieve success, you want to celebrate it with someone. And when things aren’t quite smooth sailing, you want to find solace in your supporters. For the incoming freshmen, Orientation is the occasion where you start cultivating personal relationships to form this support network. And your seniors are here to guide you.
Healthy relationships – whether casual friendship, romantic relationship, business partnership, or others – are based on mutual respect.
It is easy to respect others when we see eye to eye with them. The real test is when there are differences – whether in views, habits, preferences, value systems, or others. Can we stand in the other person’s shoes and, despite agreeing to disagree, empathise with the other person’s stance?
Another important aspect is respecting other people’s privacy and personal space. The need for personal space differs from person to person, and we need to be sensitive to it. Often, we need to seek explicit consent. You may want to ask: “Are you alright with what I am doing? Am I making you uncomfortable?” And remember that consent given in one moment doesn’t mean that it is automatically granted in another moment.
With this in mind, I would like to share with you two online resources on Sexual Misconduct & Consent, Sexual Respect as well as the NUS Student Code of Conduct that all of you should be familiar with. I would like to thank the University Scholars Programme and Yale-NUS College for sharing these resources.
For those of you who are participating in an Orientation Camp, I urge you to make the most of that experience. Use it to bond with your peers. Find out who are the ones whom you can depend on and confide in when you need support, and who are the like-minded ones who share your passion in a particular cause. These friendships will benefit you throughout your NUS journey and beyond.
Orientation should be an enjoyable, educational, memorable and safe experience for you. At all times, you should feel welcomed, assured and supported. We recognise that every individual is different. Hence, I urge you to assert yourself with confidence if you ever find yourself in uncomfortable situations. You do not need to participate in all activities – you can, at any time, opt out of any activity that you feel uneasy about and your orientation leaders will be supportive of your decision.
Feedback channels are readily available for you to reach out to us. You are encouraged to give feedback to your orientation leaders, the Camp’s staff advisor, the NUS Student Union (NUSSU), the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), or directly to me. You will find these contact details in your Orientation Camp booklet.
Once again, welcome to NUS, and I hope you will find your journey at NUS enriching and fulfilling, starting with Orientation.
Associate Professor Peter Pang
Dean of Students