Faculty meeting centers on Yale-NUS

The Yale-NUS Advisory Committee looked to address professors’ concerns about the Singaporean college in a report presented at Thursday’s Yale College Faculty Meeting.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the meeting’s agenda was comprehensive: Professors touched on a wide range of topics, formally approving the energy studies and educational studies programs and discussing a report by the Yale College Executive Committee. But the largest portion of the meeting was spent discussing the Advisory Committee’s report, which aimed to describe the overall progress of the new college and respond to concerns about Yale-NUS voiced by some Yale faculty.

“This report … for the first time sheds some light on institutional arrangements between Yale and its Singaporean offspring,” said French and African-American studies professor Christopher Miller, a noted opponent of the new college. “This, finally, is a beginning.”

The document grouped faculty concerns into three groups: concerns about the identity of Yale-NUS and its relationship to Yale, concerns about freedom of expression and human rights in Singapore and concerns about Yale-NUS’s impact on Yale’s administrative and teaching resources.

Several Yale-NUS opponents welcomed the report’s recommendation to “phase out” the check box on the Yale application allowing applicants to automatically apply to Yale-NUS free of charge and without submitting any additional materials. The Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions Office introduced this policy in the 2012-’13 applicant cycle, and the report states that the policy “blur[s] the distinction between Yale-NUS and Yale.”

The report also recommends the continuous involvement of Yale faculty to review issues surrounding academic freedom, non-discrimination policies and faculty governance at Yale-NUS and to examine “the spheres of interaction between Yale, Yale-NUS and the broader society.” The document urges the appointment of the Yale-NUS Consultative Committee, a group comprising an equal number of representatives from Yale and NUS that will advise Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis on various questions that will arise in the early years of the new institution. The Consultative Committee’s establishment was mentioned in the Yale-NUS Charter but the group has not yet been appointed.

“Since the College opens this summer, it is important to have the group in place to consider appeals for potential violations of academic freedom or non-discrimination,” the report states.

Miller said she thinks the faculty were “exceptionally efficient” in addressing several important issues in a single meeting.Faculty had a chance to read the document before the meeting, though Yale-NUS Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said that because some Yale-NUS opponents gave speeches about the Singaporean venture, the meeting’s post-Yale-NUS agenda — which included discussing sexual climate on campus — had to be shortened. Bailyn added that he does not think faculty brought up any new concerns about Yale-NUS during the meeting.

“The same four or five people who always oppose the college stood up and gave speeches, and we heard many of the same things they said in the past,” Bailyn said. “We didn’t hear from anyone we hadn’t heard before.”

Lewis said Yale-NUS administrators welcome the report, adding that the college will make an effort to clarify the status of Yale-NUS alumni in the Association of Yale Alumni, which the report states some have found confusing.

The Yale-NUS Faculty Advisory Committee’s purpose is to inform Yale faculty about the progress of Yale-NUS and to advise University President Richard Levin and others at Yale on how to approach issues of concern.

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