story Joyan Tan | Kavya Gopal
6 August, 4.30PM: 30-40 sophomores gathered in the multi-purpose hall (MPH) for a school-organized talk on Navigating Social Spaces. For a “mandatory” session for all sophomores, attendance was painfully low. Students gathered in small groups in the almost-empty MPH and discussed alcohol consumption in serious voices. To the question, “What is the party culture in Yale-NUS?” a loud voice shouted, “There are no parties!”
15 August, 10.00PM: Loud EDM music blared in the MPH. Disco lights flashed in an otherwise dimly lit space. Alcohol flowed into one cup after another; too many to count. The exact attendance is unclear, but out of 270 students invited on the Frosh Mixer Facebook page, 141 ‘went’ and 6 ‘maybe’-ed.
While many students may echo the sentiment that ‘there are no parties’ in Yale-NUS, the Frosh Mixer tells a different story. Nicholas Carverhill ’17, who organized the Frosh Mixer with a number of other sophomores says, “Given the comments that I have received, I think that the Frosh Mixer was a resounding success.” If Facebook can be trusted, having 141 students out of a student population of 322 attend the Mixer is not to be underestimated.
As the Frosh Mixer got in full swing, a completely different ‘party scene’ was also on campus that night. In Common Lounge 1, the Chill Club organized an inclusive alternative to the traditional conception of a party for all students to hang out, play some music, or get a back massage. Dr. Jason Rosenberg, the Director of Student Music said, “I went in there and there were many people with ukuleles. It was very welcoming with a beautiful collection of people just playing music together.”
The Frosh Mixer and the Chill session were not mutually exclusive: “A lot of people came, either on their way to the Mixer or on the way back to sober up”, Carmen Denia ’17 commented.
The latest of events, the Social Night organized in DREAM as a bookend to Orientation, provides interesting insights into the party culture emerging amongst freshmen. The night started out with full attendance, while the organizers announced the award winners. As the official event came to an end, and alcohol emerged, many freshmen chose to leave. Those who were underage or simply disinclined to drinking ended up passing their coupons to the half that remained. Eventually the population dwindled to around a fourth; this small proportion had on average consumed more than 5 drinks.
Janejira Jirundorn ’18 says, “Partying feels like the norm here. I definitely feel like part of a minority who doesn’t drink at all. During my adventure trip, there were three litres of rice wine and vodka consumed amongst a group of 13 people in one night. Only two of us chose not to drink.
Is partying really the norm in Yale-NUS? “The ‘party culture’ at Yale-NUS is certainly more docile than in North American or European schools,” Carverhill expresses. “That is, not to say that there are not a number of students who organize club outings, it’s just that the proportion of the students seems to be smaller.”
Why is the party culture in Yale-NUS more docile? Jared Yeo ’17 suggests that a key reason is our location. “We live in Singapore where we have access to clubs outside and can go out very easily. It’s not like New Haven, where we have to establish our own culture,” he comments. Another reason voiced during Navigating Social Spaces was that alcohol is simply too expensive in Singapore. Cost places an upper limit on alcohol consumption that does not facilitate excessive partying. We are still students, after all.
So the answer to our initial question seems to be, “Sometimes, but not much.” Is the lack of a party scene a problem? While some students may resent the ‘overly conservative’ culture, this is ironically a situation that best ensures choice. Denia suggests, “There is a gradient of people who party. Some will never come for Chill Club; others will never step into a party. And then there are those who go for both.”
The availability of clubs in Singapore means that party-goers will not be deprived of their choice to party, while a docile party culture in Yale-NUS means that others will not be pressured into partying simply because everyone is doing it. No remains No.
Yale-NUS College exists within Singapore’s borders. The culture in this land, to some extent, influences the culture in our college. We are more conservative than say, America. Those who come to Yale-NUS expecting a party culture like that of Yale should remember that while we are not NUS, we are also not Yale.