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We Are Yale-NUS.

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    Annabelle Mou

I’ve mostly kept quiet for the past two days following the announcement of the closure of my school, Yale-NUS College, in 2025. I refrained from writing too much and quickly posting on social media to join in the many grievances expressed by fellow YNC students; mainly because I wasn’t comfortable putting my grieving process out there when even I myself haven’t really figured out what my grieving process is, or at what stage of the process I am.

I spent my time talking to my parents, suite mates, partner, fellow students, trying to just let my thoughts float openly in hopes of grasping my feelings. I read multiple Facebook and Instagram posts made by fellow students, empathising with what they had to express. It was not an easy process, a struggle between being emotional and being rational. Individuals I spoke to had varying opinions or main focuses concerning the closure, but everyone shared an agreement that the announcement of closure was extremely abrupt and handled poorly by the NUS administration. The lack of transparency and hastiness in the decision process, the disregard for the years of effort poured in by faculty and students alike, and the timing to announce it “coincidentally” right after YNC students paid their tuition fees greatly shook us to the core. On Friday morning we collectively realised how selfishly and insensitively the NUS administration took care (or no care) of everything that has happened so far.

There was shock, anger, disappointment, and feelings of betrayal; I worried about the future of my education and for some moments considered transferring. But when I walked through our campus on Friday afternoon expecting a ghost town, I saw our community come to life. Suddenly my thoughts on transferring or even reapplying as a freshman to another school disappeared. Though I only joined YNC a little more than a year ago, this is the community that I’ve become attached to in this not-long-but-also-not-short time frame, and this is the community that makes me want to stay. I thought of not just the people I usually interact with but also those who I am not familiar with but will always recognise when I see them from a distance in the hallway or anywhere else on or off campus; I thought of the interconnectedness of our community, how almost every question or call for help in a big group chat will always be answered by someone; I thought of all the cool things out of my comfort zone that I’ve been able to try out precisely because the community made me feel comfortable to do so. We live in a community of so much interaction and mutual care, and sure it can get exhausting sometimes, but people also respect and understand if you need personal space to balance it out. I want to stay because YNC changed my life and I don’t want to throw that away.

Of course we’re hoping for a better solution, but it’s also necessary to think about how we can face the current scenario as it continues. I wondered how we can approach the gradual change in our campus demographic in the future. After this academic year, students admitted into the New College will be sharing our spaces and facilities, maybe even living in the suite next door. Questions and dissents about the sharing of space while (possibly) paying significantly different amounts of tuition/residential fees aside, I wondered how we can carry on the YNC spirit as our school begins the transition process into New College. Perhaps we can do our best to be equally inclusive and caring towards the New College cohorts. After all, it’s not their fault that this decision was made and we certainly shouldn’t carry over our negative feelings onto them as they join in the future years. We don’t know how similar the New College will be to YNC in terms of administration, curriculum, residential life etc., but we can definitely introduce the students to the values that we hold so dearly as what has shaped and been shaped by the YNC community. Our school’s name may fade and eventually cease to exist in the material world, but we are Yale-NUS, and as long as we exist, so will the YNC spirit.

The expressions of solidarity within the community both by students and faculty over the past two days were so heartening to see and gave me even more reasons to be proud of choosing to become a Kingfisher. I cried when I saw our staff having to moderate the Q&A session that followed the heartbreaking announcement while trying to cope with the same emotions the students have, I cried when I read letters written by professors promising to pull through the next four years with us in the most meaningful ways possible. To know that even in such dire situations we are not abandoning each other is all I need. No one saw this coming, not faculty and staff that received the news the same time as the students, not even the President of our institution, who was notified of this decision only a few days prior to the announcement. None of us should blame ourselves for making the choice to come here, because who would have known? We believed in the liberal arts vision and even now we still do.

To my friends, my professors, to everyone that contributed to shaping our community into what it is today and what it will continue to be tomorrow, stay strong. We will make the best out of the next four years.