Clarifying Yale-NUS policy
In the light of Professor Benhabib’s and Professor Miller’s response to your article of Oct. 10, “Yale-NUS develops student group policies,” we would like to clarify certain matters, some of which may have been unclear in your report and others overlooked by our esteemed colleagues. Political groups in general are not banned on Singaporean campuses. The restriction applies only to branches of political parties. At Yale-NUS College, students will be free to form extracurricular groups, including groups devoted to political discussion and debate, as long as they are not branches of political parties and do not promote racial or religious strife (not “disrespect”). Such groups are protected by Yale-NUS College’s non-discrimination policy.
If invited by a faculty member or student group, no one will be denied the opportunity to speak on the College campus because of his or her political or other views, except where such speech promotes racial or religious strife. Students will be free to gather within the College facilities to hear speakers and express views openly.
Like any other educational institution, Yale-NUS College is subject to the laws of the country where it operates, but Yale-NUS College will not itself restrict students’ freedom of speech and assembly. We believe that a campus life full of open discussion and debate is a central part of the educational experience that a residential liberal arts college should provide.
Charles Bailyn AND Pericles Lewis
The writers are the dean of faculty and president of Yale-NUS College, respectively.
Giving Yale-NUS a chance
Disappointingly, Professors Benhabib and Miller blend scare tactics with a disregard of the facts as it suits them in their article “In loco regiminis.”
As has been reported, only political groups affiliated to established national parties are not allowed on Yale-NUS. This is not a ban on all political groups, as the authors assert.
Also, it must be pointed out that law and enforcement are separate issues (Old Campus: most Friday nights). While Singapore’s Societies Act does require registration of some types of groups, including political associations, Student Interest Groups at NUS are not required to go through this process. Though I am not privy to the details, it is not inconceivable that Yale-NUS student groups may operate under a similar understanding.
Much has been said on the issue of on-campus rights and liberties, and the Singaporean government clearly understands the importance we in New Haven rightly attach to it. Questions of student activity and organizations thus ought to be treated not just as theoretical ones to be debated endlessly, but also as empirical ones to be settled when Yale-NUS students actually matriculate — maybe not with finality even then.
So while caution and vigilance is justified, those of us who wish the project well have been doing our utmost to ensure that Yale-NUS goes into Singapore with both eyes open. If the authors are serious about their belief in the spirit of the collegium as a model, I would invite them and all those interested to join us and talk to their former colleagues at Yale-NUS — not editorialize from the other side of the aisle.
The writer is a junior in Morse College.