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LIVE: Elm College to Close in Fall 2024, Room Draw to be Based on Group Completeness

All PostsNewsLIVE: Elm College to Close in Fall 2024, Room Draw to be Based on Group Completeness

This is a developing story. New information and coverage will be added as they become available.

Elm College will close in Academic Year 2024/25, leaving Cendana College the only Residential College (RC) within the Yale-NUS campus to house students from the closing liberal arts college, Student Government President Ashley Rehn ’25 announced on Thursday 26 October.

Room Draw to be Based on Group Completeness

Room Draw systems in the final year will not be based on RC affiliation out of fairness concerns, Rehn said. Room allocation priority will instead follow the number of people confirmed to stay within the group applying for suites. Six people applying for a sextet will therefore have higher priority than a five people applying for the same suite, but incomplete groups do not need to receive a randomly allocated student.

The Administration is also considering opening all unoccupied rooms as extensions of suite common areas, with a minimum of four occupants, added Dean of Students Cory Owen, though details can only be determined closer to Room Draw applications.

Decision Result of Focus Sessions

The deliberation process for residential arrangements in the final year of Yale-NUS started at a Town Hall on 12 September, when Owen and Rehn announced “pro lists” for students to advocate the advantages of staying in each RC, as well as focus sessions targeted at the Class of 2025. Remaining in both PCs was not a given option.

There has been little discussion on College-wide messaging groups on the RC deliberations. The paucity of enthusiasm contrasts with the past year, when initial Student Affairs Office proposal to close one of the three colleges provoked strong resistance and prompted the formation of a Residential College Advisory Committee. According to Rehn, “only a few people” attended the focus group discussions.

The Committee, populated mainly by Cendana students, oversaw a survey that eventually advised closing Saga College despite staying in all three compounds being the most preferred option, citing that the latter was also cited by the highest number of students as the least favorable outcome.

Dining and Curriculum Concerns

Student discussions focused on dining quality, an issue previously discussed in the September Town Hall when students and an Octant investigation discovered identical items despite administration promises otherwise. “The sets themselves have no difference,” said a student pointing out the continuing lack of differentiation.

Owen responded by encouraging feedback to Smorgasbord such that the caterer can be made aware. “I personally have sent tons of feedback, but we need folks to voice for themselves too,” she said.

Other issues mentioned include the possibility of sugar-free drinks and insufficient quantities of fruits available at the salad bar. Rehn added that the Administration is working on restoring waffle service.

Dean of Faculty David Post also said the Administration is keeping track of students who have not taken Historical Immersion courses and will work to ensure everyone can fulfil curriculum requirements.

“We are trying to have a surplus of courses so you all have options,” Post said, though the administration cannot rule out unexpected faculty departures.

Post also cited the last-minute addition of Spanish classes in the ongoing semester as a way the College has responded to student feedback, adding that the Dean of Faculty Office is currently planning for the next Academic Year.

“We have resources to offer courses to you,” added President Joanne Roberts, “if there’s a strong demand for courses, say, Science Fiction, we can try to make that happen.” She and Post also said that the administration is concerned a large number of surplus electives would mean very low student numbers in each class, which could compromise student learning experience and faculty morale.

“Pedagogy is radically different if you only have one or two students in the room when you’ve designed a class for 16 to 18 students,” Post said, adding that the administration is “running out of degrees of freedom” to acclimatize faculty to teach in the College if it is for one year only.

Student Life and College Futures

When asked on reported limitations on Fabrication Labs use, the administration responded that restricting resin 3D printers to curricular uses only is not their policy and would coordinate with NUS Libraries. “The expectation on the Fab Labs is that they would be operated in a similar manner as before they came under NUS Libraries’ oversight, and it’s not a resources issue,” Post said.

When asked, Roberts said the obscure Advisory Committee on Expression on Campus was established in 2018, and Lynette Chua, former Rector of Elm College, is its sole member.

Residential Life Officers, Assistant Deans, and Counsellors will remain available across the remaining lifespan of the College, Owen said in response to student queries. “We have a more robust counsellor to student ratio than ever,” she said, adding that staff-to-student ratios will be maintained even if the numbers decrease.

The College will also continue to support P.S. We Care and other student groups, as well as funding for commemorative productions by seniors in 2025, but there are “very strict rules” on how the College can manage its physical assets and what can happen to property purchased with College funds after the closure.

The Graduation ceremony for the Class of 2025 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 14, 2025, with the year’s Alumni Reunion happening on May 17.

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