Guest columnists || Hoa Nguyen, Raeden Richardson, Shanice Stanislaus

Photo Illustration by Pareen Chaudhari

ConfessionsFellow schoolmates,

We want to bring your attention to a matter that deeply concerns us: the recent spate of personal attacks on the ‘Yale-NUS Confessions’ page on Facebook. Many of us do not belong to the page, neither are we vocal on social platforms with regards to school politics or personal disputes.

We do not speak on behalf of any groups or individuals that have been attacked, and most of us have escaped such unfortunate incidents. We are concerned for the individuals in our community whose emotional well-being and safety has been compromised due to the attacks on the page.

We are proponents of free speech and we strongly believe in the freedom of expression. We hope for a community where people practice their rights judiciously, and think twice before making a depredatory or discriminatory remark; at the same time, we know how idealistic that is, and our goal is not to penalize or condemn people for their views even if we find them unpleasant.

We instead want to underscore the importance of accountability.

An individual should be accountable for her words instead of hiding underneath the veil of anonymity. If one is capable of making a choice, he should be able to defend that choice if it is brought into question. This is the only way freedom of expression will lead to conducive conversations and meaningful debates. Using anonymity as an instrument to indiscriminately spread hateful views does nothing to promote the merits of such freedom, and only evokes distrust and insecurity, especially in such a small and closely-knit community as ours.

The Sophomore class encountered these same problems last year; given the recent events, the way we deal with this issue will speak loudest about the caliber of our community. We have the opportunity to collectively support the wellbeing of our cohort and become an active, responsive student body that makes informed decisions.

Thus, we call out to you, fellow Yale-NUS students, to cease support for the ‘Confessions’ Page.

If you are on the page, withdraw from it. The power that ‘Confessions’ has relies on the support of its followers – were it not for its audience, the page would not self-perpetuate.

If we continue to permit the complete anonymity of expression that ‘Confessions’ promotes, we will only be indirectly supporting a culture of irresponsible practices of citizenship, thus hurting our community in unimaginable ways. If we as a community, however, choose to become more responsible in our expressions, we will slowly, but surely, move towards deserving of the freedoms we so rightfully claim.

The Administration can make all the policies it wants, but the only person who can stop these viral, vitriolic sentiments and indiscriminating practices of power and privileges, is you. We call not for unfettered freedom of expression, but for a responsible freedom of expression. We have no desire to censor speech, nor do we intend to attach punitive consequences to any action. We strongly believe in individual rights – so long as such rights go hand in hand with ownership and accountability.

We hope that everyone understands that these attacks have emotionally affected and created a psychologically damaging experience to the affected individuals or groups. We advocate that each one of us takes ownership over our actions and choices, even if that means taking the active stance to leave the ‘Confessions’ page.

At the time of publication, 99 students have signed this Open Letter.

The list of names is as follows:

  1. Hoa Nguyen
  2. Shanice Nicole Stanislaus
  3. Subhas Nair
  4. Kei Franklin
  5. Raeden Richardson
  6. Priscilla Tay
  7. Denise Kristen Natalya Ng
  8. Rakesh Pk
  9. Li Ting Chan
  10. Xie Yihao
  11. Sean Saito
  12. Rocco Hu
  13. Evangeline N’estPas LePoisson
  14. Joshua Wong
  15. Aleithia Low
  16. John Reid
  17. Kaushik Swaminathan
  18. Clarissa Leong
  19. Lee Dai Ling Lynn
  20. Michelle Koh
  21. Annette Wu
  22. Sai Pogaru
  23. HengYeng Tan
  24. Rachel Johanna Lim
  25. Theodore Lai
  26. Benson Pang
  27. Hillary Loh
  28. Mariel Chee
  29. Eliz Heng
  30. Zach Mahon
  31. Hannah Yeo
  32. Carissa Lari Lim
  33. Mollie L Saltskog
  34. Joan Danielle Ongchoco
  35. Pareen Chaudhari
  36. Liam Rahmen
  37. Regina Hong
  38. Amanda Lee Zi Yi
  39. David Chia
  40. Michael Moore-Jones
  41. Anshuman Mohan
  42. Meghna Basu
  43. Timothy Goh
  44. Marcus Koe
  45. Reuben Su
  46. Elson Ong
  47. Tamara Burgos
  48. Rachel Quek Siew Yean
  49. Glen Kilian Koh
  50. Angela Ferguson
  51. Ling Xi Min
  52. Lim Se Ern
  53. Nik Carverhill
  54. Christian Go
  55. Christopher Khew
  56. Shermin Chan
  57. Kavya Gopal
  58. Meddley Bourdeau
  59. Andrea Noelle J
  60. Timothy Chua
  61. Maria Camila
  62. Tuyet Trang
  63. Min Lim
  64. Valerie Pang
  65. Adrian Stymne
  66. Tiffany Sin
  67. Anthea Tjoa
  68. Stacey Yuen
  69. Diamanta Vania Lavi
  70. Sarah Novak
  71. Lishani Ramanayake
  72. Wee Yang Soh
  73. Aaron Kurzak
  74. Ami Firdaus
  75. Sherice Ngaserin
  76. Cassidy Clark
  77. Sanjana Tadepalli
  78. Shelby Ellis Goh
  79. Toh Hui Ran
  80. Amelia Chew
  81. Kimberly Pah
  82. Dave Chappell
  83. Carmen Denia
  84. Daryl Tan
  85. Aishani Sen
  86. Anya Evtushenko
  87. Jevon Chandra
  88. Cephas Tan
  89. Tong Xueyin
  90. Aaron Ong Chong Shi
  91. Evan Ma
  92. Maggie Schumann
  93. Cameron Love
  94. Andy Chen
  95. Maria Ivanenko
  96. Nicolas Siew
  97. Amarbold Lkhagvasuren
  98. Charlotte Wang
  99. Koh Wei Jie

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