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Space Use in AY23/24: What We Know

All PostsNewsSpace Use in AY23/24: What We Know

Story | Avery Huang (she/her)

This is an ongoing story. We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Yale-NUS gradually confirmed the closure of Saga College over the Spring 22/23 semester, with the former Residential College’s (RC) living spaces designated for use by NUS College students in the next academic year. We speak to outgoing Dean of Students, Dave Stanfield, on how campus space will be shared between Yale-NUS and NUS College.

Saga Closure and Space Availability

While residential spaces, including Sky Gardens, will be reserved for NUS College students, common areas within the former RC remain largely accessible to students holding Yale-NUS cards. This includes the Common Lounge, the courtyard, as well as the Buttery, though NUS College does not plan to maintain student-run evening food services.

Meanwhile, classrooms will be allocated exclusively to either institution, with Yale-NUS students having access to classrooms designated as Yale-NUS and vice versa. About eight classrooms will be handed to NUS College, including Saga LT1, according to an announcement on 17 February, though this number is yet to be confirmed.

“At the beginning of each semester, we will announce to students any new spaces being handed over to NUS College,” Dr Stanfield said.

The College administration will seek alternative placements for physical items located in spaces to be handed over. Games in the Saga Buttery, for example, will be transferred to the other RCs.

However, alternatives are not always straightforward. Brewhouse, the beloved volunteer-run coffee institution serving the campus, announced on April 27 that they could no longer operate from the Elm Courtyard after losing access to the Saga College Office, where their cart is usually stored. Brewhouse would instead operate at the Cafe Agora space.

As Yale-NUS moves out of the RC, students currently residing in Saga are given “reserved suites” in other Residential Colleges, according to the same February announcement made in advance of the annual Room Draw.

These suites are reserved for groups with a majority of Saga students, and released starting with the highest floors if Saga groups select other suites. According to Dr Stanfield, this is done “in recognition that the greatest burden falls on those living in Saga.”

However, some question if this is enough protection.

Rewind: Why did Saga Close?

The decision to close Saga College was announced in a mass email sent out in December 2022, following a survey conducted on student preferences for space use over the semester.

The RC Advisory Committee, which oversaw the survey, argued that while the greatest number of respondents preferred spreading the Yale-NUS population across all three RCs, it was also ranked as the least preferable option out of three by the most number of students. It also said that “75% of responses ranked [preserving Cendana and Elm] among their first two choices,” and that closing Saga would be “the most acceptable to a majority of students on campus” in AY 23/24.

This decision received criticism from current and alumni members of the Saga community, who argued that the survey results were inconclusive. In a letter to the administration, they suggested that no option emerged as the clear favorite and that responses were divided strongly along RC lines, suggesting instead a strong preference among the student body not to sacrifice any RC. They also believed the survey was unrepresentative, with a larger number of Cendana respondents than either Elm or Saga.

The school administration held a Community Dialogue in January regarding these concerns, but did not change their decision.

Following the expiry of Rector Neil Clarke’s appointment in June 2023 and Rector Lynette Chua’s departure from Elm College, former Saga Rector Hoon Eng Khoo will become the only rector in the Yale-NUS RC system. Assistant Deans and Residential Life Officers will work with the same students they are assigned to under the three-RC model.

Elm and Cendana Futures

According to the same housing announcement, 27 Elm suites—slightly less than half of the tower’s total capacity—will be given to NUS College students. According to Stanfield, this decision was “supported by administrative and community reasons,” including “the optimal deployment of operational and staffing resources” by NUS College administrators and “the desire to house students closer to each other in order to build a strong community.”

The Community Living Report released 5 December 2022 announced the closure of Saga but did not address the use of other living spaces.

While there is speculation that Yale-NUS students would be housed exclusively in Cendana College in AY 24/25, when asked, Stanfield responded that “the decision on which RC to hand over in AY 24/25 has not been finalized.”

He also said that the Yale-NUS administration would maintain authority over the entire campus until June 2025, and that “decisions regarding housing allocations for next AY were made jointly between Yale-NUS and NUS College administration, considering the respective needs of each community.”

The Community Living Report did not specify the degree or presence of NUS College involvement in its recommendations. A student member of the committee, who requested to remain anonymous, added that no communications were made with NUS College.

We are grateful to Associate Dean of Students Cory Owen for her assistance with fact-checking.

Are you a reader from NUS College? We are eager to hear your perspectives. Please reach out to us at yncoctant[at]gmail.com with your thoughts and comments.

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