February 12th, 2013 | Cross Campus

ROSEN: Thoughts on Yale-NUS

The Yale-NUS campus design aims to integrate elements of Yale’s collegiate style and traditional Singaporean features.
The Yale-NUS campus design aims to integrate elements of Yale’s collegiate style and traditional Singaporean features. Photo by Yale-NUS.

Yale’s decision to venture into Singapore with Yale-NUS hasn’t been received very well on campus, to say the least. Last April, the faculty passed a resolution demanding the upholding of nondiscrimination and civil liberties on the NUS campus as ideals of a true liberal arts education. Students spoke out against the college, on the pages of the News and via other avenues. Political science lecturer Jim Sleeper and other Yale-NUS opponents wrote scathing critiques of the Yale Corporation and the limited freedoms of Singapore. The general consensus became that Yale-NUS was bad news.

So why would over 9,200 applicants to the Yale College class of 2017 — that’s around one-third of the total applicants — choose to share their application with Yale-NUS? The answer is simple — because Yale made it way too easy to do so.

To send their Common Application to NUS, all prospective Yalies needed to do was check an additional box on the Yale College supplement. No additional essay questions or separate forms were required.

New York University, which also has campuses abroad, requires applicants to write an explanation of why they’d like to forward their application to admissions offices in Abu Dhabi or Shanghai. The university recognizes that NYU proper and NYU abroad are separate institutions that applicants should have separate reasons for wanting to attend. Yale, however, seems to think that any reasons you could articulate on your application for wanting to attend college in New Haven (Harold Bloom, Toad’s, etc.) must apply to Singapore as well.

Applicants who checked the box to apply to Yale-NUS didn’t need to research the college to craft a perfect 500-character answer in response to a question like, “Why Yale-NUS?” It is very well possible that many of them have no idea about the level of controversy surrounding the institution. The NUS option is a blatant continuation of the trend across university admissions practices of falsely creating the allure of a low admission rate. More NUS applications mean more rejections, and we seem to associate that figure with the quality of an education.

Despite the Admissions Office’s assurances, applicants may have felt that their decision of whether or not to check the NUS box might affect their chances of admission at Yale in New Haven. Or, the Yale-NUS option on the application may have simply served as way of convincing applicants that they were improving their chances of receiving a diploma with the name “Yale” on it. It’s deceiving and it’s wrong.

Ideally, Yale-NUS would have an entirely separate application process from Yale College, meaning that applicants to Yale College would only be able to apply to NUS in addition by filling out an NUS-only application. The Yale-NUS College Charter begins: “The National University of Singapore (‘NUS’) and Yale University (‘Yale’) have established the Yale-NUS College (the ‘College’) as an autonomous college of NUS.” If the college is truly autonomous, it deserves its own application process.

At the very least, by virtue of being a separate institution from Yale (not to mention located in a different country with horrible policies on homosexuality and lots of other things Yalies love), there should be some additional essay questions or a supplement involved in forwarding an application there. It has become clear over the past year that Yale and Yale-NUS will provide very different educations for their students – it is unfair and misleading to allow applicants to believe otherwise.