'It's exactly how Covid-19 is spreading': NUS students allege SMM breaches at orientation camps
This report has been updated.
Students attending orientation programmes hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) have alleged that safety precautions were lacking at the events.
A 19-year-old female student who attended a hall engagement camp at NUS told TNP that safe management measures were not enforced by the camp organisers.
The engagement camp, organised by NUS Kent Ridge Hall, hosted almost 100 participants on June 3 and 4.
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said that some participants removed their masks while indoors, with more participants following suit after they participated in the various programmes.
While participants were allowed to remove their masks outdoors, some did not put their masks back on when they went back inside, the student said. Some participants also removed their masks to take pictures while indoors.
While she does not know if the alleged breaches have led to any students getting Covid-19, she was concerned that some camp facilitators went against the guidelines set by the school administration.
According to Shin Min Daily News, more than 20 students tested positive for Covid-19 after attending an NUS Business School orientation camp from June 15 to June 17.
Another 19-year-old student told TNP that she decided not to attend a hall engagement camp after signing up for it, for fear of catching Covid-19.
This was after she had seen videos circulating on social media that showed camp participants of other NUS camps not wearing their masks and intermingling in large groups.
In a photograph she showed TNP, a large group of participants from the NUS Sheares Hall engagement camp were not wearing masks while in close proximity to one another.
The student also showed TNP a video of students out clubbing after the first day of NUS Kent Ridge Hall’s programme, which was allegedly organised by the hall’s camp facilitators. In the video, individuals are seen without masks.
According to a second-year student at NUS, camp facilitators were not authorised to organise gatherings and parties outside of the stipulated orientation time on campus.
The school administration had also warned students against organising out-of-campus activities, said the 22-year-old.
"All this after-party nonsense is exactly how Covid-19 is spreading,” she added.
In a statement sent to The Straits Times on June 7, pertaining to in-person orientation activities returning after two years of Covid-19 curbs, NUS dean of students, Professor Ho Han Kiat, said orientation programmes would be closely guided by prevailing SMMs.
He said: “Prevailing SMMs such as indoor mask-wearing will be in place during orientation activities to keep our campuses safe.”
TNP has contacted NUS for comment on the matter.
Update: A spokesman for NUS told TNP on July 4 that Kent Ridge Hall has denied allegations of planning the clubbing activity for incoming freshmen. The spokesman said it is believed to have been a self-initiated activity among incoming freshmen.
Two other incoming freshmen and a hall committee member that TNP spoke to, however, have said the activity was organised by the hall’s organising committee.
The NUS spokesman further added that the school will not be responding to other inquiries regarding the penalties that camp organisers may face for breaching administrative guidelines, and will not confirm if guidelines such as the prohibition of external activities were passed in the first place.