We are dissolving; this is not just a name change. But before I delve into the heart of the matter, let me go back to where it all began.
Let us go back to even before I accepted my application into Yale-NUS College. For the longest, I didn't even consider this school because it felt too out of reach. But 2 days before the application closed and on the day I was flying off for a graduation, I told myself "You've been there and you know it is a place where you'll grow the most, there's is no harm in applying. You've got nothing to lose so why not". When I was offered, I was still torn because I had been working towards a mass communication career. I even went cycling for 3 days and calling up friends to talk about it before I had to reject the local offers on a fateful Saturday. In a leap of faith, unsure of what major so i put PPE, I accepted it and the rest is history, doing urban studies and philosophy has been amazing!
While my Orientation Group was the first home and even though we all room with different people today, I have become more sensible and thoughtful because of them. And through the various courses of the Common Curriculum, I've gained so much knowledge about things I would not have dabbled on my own. It was Malcolm Keating's Philosophy and Political Thought that kindled the flame for philosophy in me! More than just thinking, the logic and way of interpreting was so intriguing, it had spurred me to take other class such as Niel Mehta's Fundamental Reality. It feels wierd that slowly, we won't have to "worry" for places during module registration since the school population will be decreasing.
Here, I just want to make it a point to say that we aren't elitist or territorial. Of course you might disagree since I'm part of the bubble and claim that I don't see it from outside it, but I'd disagree. We are just another university, there will be undeniable difference in professors, classes, sports, student organizations, priorities, conversations. We were aware of the "Us" vs "Them" between us and the other colleges and faculties but we tried bridging them - Inter-Faculty Games, Inter-College Games, being part of Inter-College events. Definitely, I hope that this issue won't exist once we're "replaced" but I hope that in memory, we will be remembered as Yale-NUS Alumni.
I still can't believe my school is closing down... it's such a safe home for all us to be ourselves! Random walks in Geylang to see (An)other Singapore, Conversations about mental health/identity/the latest global affairs with regards to talks by speakers or our professors being on the news, staring at spaces and thinking of how we can use them, trying to wake up 30mins before our Common Core lectures for Brewhouse - I can't believe that we won't have a built space to go back to. It hasn't sunk in. Not at all.
And now why we're angry, upset, defeated, disappointed, the simple reason is why now? Why so abrupt? Why weren't we notified of such conversation? Perhaps your first question is "This is a school organisation decision, why do they need to involve the students?" This question was also raised to the President of NUS during our Townhall. This "rather sensitive issue...is too sensitive to be discussed", that was the response. Replies were being upplayed that student interest in developing the new school was inspiring and that they hoped we would inject our DNA. We need to stop seeing the school as just an institution; We need to see the school as a community. That is what I would say is the defining characteristic of our Kingfishers. As a community, we also want to do what's best for our fellow friends, we want protection of our rights as a person. And we have come so far in making better policies and better systems alongside our administration. But now, there is no Yale-NUS identity to protect. Our built space that possesses the culture will be hidden and soon, walled in as history. One might then argue that if I see that the community is where we are rather than the building, I shouldn't bother about the building "disappearing". But in the first place, it's being dissolved without invovling the community... so what they did was: decide while excluding the community, about the space that the community made. We are not ready to replicate the liberal arts model in Singapore. 14 years of existence, is that even enough to change ingrained beliefs of generations?
At last, I am more motivated to become a person who better embodies the Yale-NUS spirit. In times like this, it's heartening to see that we've become more united and encouraging. I hope that this open letter will serve to enlighten others about why we are upset over the news.
To end off, I want to thank all the professors who have made my experience a more meaningful one. That even though our size is small, we will make mighty contributions, however little, in our fields and in other people's lives.