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story Lai Ying Tong
On March 6, Yale-NUS College saw the launch of its inaugural Ally Week. The event, organized by The G Spot, was the first of its kind at a tertiary institution in Singapore.
The G Spot, which works to promote diversity and inclusivity, collaborated with several other student organizations and external groups to organize Ally Week. The event consisted of a series of discussions and activities centered on gender, sexuality, and related issues, with the aim of introducing the concept of allyship. This included a public debate run by the Yale-NUS Debate Society over the role of pornography in empowering women, and a forum where two guest speakers discussed religious faith and the LGBTQ community.
The G Spot president Daryl Yang ’18 said he first got the inspiration for Ally Week on the NYU Shanghai exchange in November 2014, when the Queer and Ally Club there shared their experience of organizing an Ally Week.
According to Yang, The G Spot is currently the only student organization doing advocacy work about gender and sexuality in Singapore. He raised the example of “Out to Care”, which is the LGBTQA—“A” referring to “Allied” or “Asexual”—student initiative in Singapore Management University. It focuses largely on peer support yet is limited from engaging in advocacy or addressing political issues.
The turnout for the event mostly consisted of “non-Yale-NUS students and people who are part of different networks,” said Dean’s Fellow Sara Amjad, who advises The G Spot. The event’s reach beyond the college was a good sign for the organization, she said.
One purpose of Ally Week was to promote discussion not just regarding the LGBTQ community, but also other identities or social issues, such as gender inequality, according to Ms. Amjad. They hoped to accomplish this by engaging other student groups and the Yale-NUS community at large, Yang said.
Introducing the term ‘ally’ was also an important aim of the event. Members of The G Spot who were interviewed expressed that allyship does not require outright support for the causes brought up throughout the week, since that would alienate all those who did not support feminism or LGBTQ rights.
“My understanding of ‘ally’ has been broadened and opened,” Hillary Loh ’18 said, after attending two Ally Week events. “It’s your willingness to have open discourse, and … to express a friendship or a relationship with a person who may be the opposite of you in some very personal ways.”
Nur Diyanah Binte Kamarudin ’18, who serves as Vice President of Research & Advocacy at The G Spot, said she also hoped the event would “discard this stereotype that The G Spot is an organization that is not friendly and won’t listen to you.”
Meredith Jett ’18 hopes Ally Week’s impact will extend beyond the event. The events she attended “all started conversations … I hope that that can be a take away.” she said. “That we’re all willing to engage in [such discussions] on both sides.”
Responding to whether there should be an Ally Week next year, Ms. Amjad said, “Absolutely. I think it’s been very successful and I really, really hope that this is something that we continue.”