story Helena Auerswald, Contributing Reporter
The pride, identity, and support were promised; the discomfort, frustration, and separation that came with it were not. Following two years of living in a combined residential space, Yale-NUS College students have now settled into their respective residential colleges (RCs) and are beginning to build unique communities. But to some, this development of RC individuality has come at the expense of the College’s collective community.
The heightened focus on RC communities at Yale-NUS first became apparent during orientation, when the Amazing Race, RCX trips, and workshops divided all the students into Dean’s Fellow (DF) groups, subdivisions within RCs. Some students felt this separation was unnecessary in their initial weeks at Yale-NUS. “I thought we would be a whole community as Yale-NUS but we turned out to be small communities of people,” said Svetlana Kekutiia ’19.
However, Saga College DF Aieshah Arif felt that the open dining halls, Common Curriculum classes, and student organizations provide ample opportunities to meet classmates from other RCs, so “it’s not anyone’s fault but your own if you’re not meeting people from other colleges,” she said. Similarly, Elm Residential College Advisory Committee (RCAC) member Erika Terrones-Shibuya believed that although the distance can be an inconvenience, “the fact that we’re separated by a few minutes is a small price to pay.” Her fellow RCAC member Luke Ong ’18 concurred, “If you’re really friends with someone, you’ll make the effort to walk there and hang out.”
Cendana Rector Derek Heng said the College Offices need to hear from students in order to plan events which garner attention from the student body. He said although it’s easy to fund and organize activities, the College Office does not want to waste resources unless students demonstrate sufficient interest. On the other hand, Cora Ceipek ’19 felt that because students are unaware of the avenues available to them, RC offices could help by clarifying who to approach with event ideas.
Last year, RC^3 had great success in fostering RC identity through competitive events. This year, according to RC^3 co-president Xueyin Tong ’18, it hopes to focus instead on inter-RC bonding. The organization hopes to utilize common spaces within the new campus in competitive and noncompetitive ways, but Tong emphasized that competitive activities will not further divide the colleges. “Although they are competitive, from the very start we’ll make it very clear: you don’t play to put people down, you just play to bond more,” she said. As a start, RC^3 is working alongside the Athletics Council to develop inter-RC games, and they plan to continue the tradition of sponsoring a school-wide beach day at Sentosa this December.
Events are being planned to develop individual RC identities alongside the Yale-NUS community spirit. For example, according to Mr. Heng, Cendana’s upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration will “mark [the RC] out uniquely” and build the culture of the college while simultaneously bringing over “students from the other side of campus.”
Over the next few months, events planned by both the Rector’s Offices and Dean of Students can be expected to create Residential College traditions while simultaneously uniting the student body through school-wide social events.