By Tan Shi Hui
NUS students play Frisbee at University Town on September 16, 2014. Games and sports like Frisbee are often played at orientation camps to foster team spirit, but some games have been criticized for being sexual. CAMPUS EYE/Tan Shi Hui
SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Campus Eye) – Orientation camps at the National University of Singapore (NUS) often feature sexual activities, according to students from the university.
These activities came to light on Jul. 31, when a letter criticizing these activities written by an NUS student’s aunt was published in the Real Singapore, a social-political website.
“The camp facilitators were making the girls … lick (whipped) cream off his neck, his nipples and also rub (their) hands on his thigh, trying to sexually stimulate him,” wrote the author, who identified herself as “Ms. Ng”.
Most students who were interviewed had either seen or heard of similar activities.
A student who attended a camp organised by Kent Ridge Hall witnessed forfeits such as Seven Wonders, in which two students touch each other as instructed by their peers, and male students doing push-ups over females.
The student, who declined to be named, said these activities were passed down from earlier generations of students.
Forfeits are typically unplanned, and agreed upon by leaders and participants, including those who are not doing the forfeits, just before they are done.
Psychology Camp organizer Lau Boon Yen described a similarly sexual-themed activity called Secret Pals.
“They wake the participants up at 3 a.m. and blindfold them, and make the girl sit on the guy’s lap,” Lau said.
PLAYING WITH OPTIONS
An NUS spokesperson told the Straits Times that participants can opt out of activities they are uncomfortable with.
However, Yong Yen Lu, a Cultural Activities Club Social Camp participant this year, disagreed.
“Some of them (orientation group leaders) didn’t know their limits … If you didn’t want to, they would say no,” Yong said.
In contrast, Tembusu College orientation organizer Alison Chew said group leaders know where their limits are, and would allow participants to opt out.
Chew said she trusted group leaders to be responsible for the “image of the college” because they were interviewed.
TRUE PURPOSE OF CAMP ACTIVITIES?
Both Chew and Lau also said participants were encouraged to give feedback to their leaders, which were then used to make changes to the camp program.
Physical activities are often planned, as they facilitate group bonding, said Lau.
However, the anonymous Kent Ridge Hall camp participant felt these activities were a reflection of society’s patriarchal attitudes.
“I don’t think we should be blaming the students; we should all just reflect on our own culture that sexualises women on a daily basis.
“We should be looking at the kind of images, the kind of messages we allow in society, through media, and through just our daily conversations because, after all, patriarchal attitudes are inherited,” she said.