April 2nd, 2012 | Opinion

Yale-NUS: Alternate Futures

ava_kofman_singapore1
Photo by Ava Kofman.

Proponents of the planned Yale-NUS College in Singapore paint a glowing future for the enterprise. Its skeptics warn of impending ruin. Shaun Tan speculates on two possible futures for the project, via two possible News articles. Check back in 2023 to see which one’s right.

Yale, NUS celebrate a decade of partnership

Thursday, August 3, 2023

SINGAPORE – Spirits were high today as University President Richard Levin GRD ’74 arrived at the Yale-NUS College to kick off its tenth anniversary celebration.

Since its launch in 2013, Yale-NUS has continued to surprise skeptics, cementing its reputation as the foremost college in Asia. Applications this year reached a record 17,952, of which Yale-NUS admitted 1,500, according to Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan ’03.

The success of the venture has also prompted the loosening of controls on civil liberties in Singapore, as the culture of liberal education and critical inquiry created by Yale-NUS spread well beyond its campus. In the past three years, the island nation has seen the repeal of the Internal Security Act and the law against homosexual intercourse.

On Wednesday, President Levin addressed a crowd of thousands of budding liberal arts students and scholars in the central quad, many waving signs saying “We Love Dick” and “1+1=3.”

“There are some who say that projects with authoritarian regimes are doomed to disaster and dishonor,” Levin told the cheering throng, “Let them come to Singapore!”

In his speech, Levin outlined how the pedagogic innovations at Yale-NUS resolved the “culture wars” between departments, enabling Yale to eclipse its Ivy League rivals.

“Because of its vision, Yale has topped every major university ranking for the past five years,” said Levin. “Apart from the US News & World Report, where we’re still third. But really, no one cares about them.”

Levin under fire over Yale-NUS

Thursday, August 3, 2023

NEW HAVEN – University President Richard Levin GRD ’74 came under mounting pressure from students and faculty to withdraw the Yale name from Yale-NUS.

The increasingly strident calls for withdrawal come amidst concerns over Yale’s plunging prestige in the region from brand-name inflation, creeping self-censorship amongst staff and students, and the dawning realization that it’s pretty hard to teach students to be creative if they’ve spent the first eighteen years of their life having their creativity drained out of them.

Interviews with students revealed an ominous atmosphere. “It’s difficult to have open discussions on campus. I always feel like I’m being watched,” observed Nicole Tan NUS ’26, just before she was hit in the head by shadowy operatives and dragged away.

Critics of Yale-NUS say they’re not surprised at these developments. “I hate to say I told you so, but…” commented Seyla Benhabib GRD ’77, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale.

The Singapore government has defended its actions. “Asian society is built on a culture of respect that must not be undermined.,” said Prime Minister Tin Pei Ling in a speech she gave to the Lee Kuan Yew Appreciation Society, the biggest student group at Yale-NUS. “For example, those students’ desire to express themselves showed no respect to my desire for them to shut the hell up.”

When asked about his commitment to Yale-NUS, Levin stressed the importance of staying ahead of other institutions in the race to expand into regions with fast-growing markets.

“An organization like Yale has to continue to expand or risk falling behind,” Levin replied.

“I believe this strategy will bring great benefits: for God, for country, and for the Yale Corporation. Hey, corporations are people too, my friend,” he said.

Shaun Tan is a second-year student in International Relations. Contact him at shaunzhiming.tan@yale.edu