Thursday, October 21, 2021

Yale-NUS Cancels Week 7 Program Amid New COVID Restrictions; Graduation Requirement Waived

Story | Siddharth Mohan Roy (he/him), Contributing Reporter
Photo | Joshua Vargas (he/him)

All the Week 7 projects this semester, slated to start tomorrow, have been canceled, Beth Uding, Associate Director for Experiential Learning for Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), announced in an email to the Class of 2025 yesterday. The Week 7 graduation requirement will also be waived for all first-year students.

Uding said the “difficult decision” was made to comply with the heightened Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore announced by the Ministry of Health this Friday (Sept. 24). Taking effect from tomorrow (Sept. 27) until Oct. 24, group sizes for social gathering were cut from five to two. In addition, groups of up to two will be allowed to dine in at regular food and beverage establishments if both diners are fully vaccinated.

Week 7 Learning Across Boundaries (LABs) are faculty-led co-curricular projects designed by CIPE to allow faculty to share their scholarship with first-year students outside of the classroom and create an opportunity for students to explore the curriculum in broader, real-world contexts. Earlier Week 7 programs saw students going to places such as Bali, Switzerland, and India

Usually held in the first semester of the academic year, CIPE postponed the previous iteration of Week 7 to Semester 2 due to prevailing COVID-19 restrictions in the first semester. 

According to CIPE, the new restrictions made it unfeasible to continue with their original Week 7 plans. They had considered alternatives, but did not have enough time to rework the projects to transition to a classroom or virtual setting, given the timing of the announcement. 

Dave Stanfield, Dean of Students, told The Octant that Yale-NUS’s official vaccination rate is at 80%. The actual rate is likely to be higher, he said, because some fully vaccinated students who were vaccinated overseas have not uploaded their vaccination certificates into uNivUS.

In a separate email sent exactly a month ago (August 25) to international students from the Class of 2025 who were studying virtually, CIPE announced that students who were unable to enter Singapore to participate in Week 7 programs would also receive a waiver for the Week 7 graduation requirement. 

On August 30, in response to queries on whether Week 7 projects could be postponed instead of canceled, CIPE explained in another email to e-learners from the Class of 2025 that the uncertainty surrounding the New College meant that a postponement to the next academic year “[did] not make sense,” and that a waiver was the best solution at the time. Uding did not mention the possibility of postponing the program to the next semester. 

Several students on campus expressed their frustrations toward the cancellation.

Koh Hekang ‘25 was disappointed by the cancellation of Week 7 projects. “It’s bad timing and pure bad luck,” he lamented. “I really hope that we can still get to do our Week 7 in Semester 2. Hopefully by then, the international students who weren’t able to fly to Singapore will be able to join us, and we’d all be able to experience Week 7 together.” 

Daniel Thomas ’25 said while he understood that the College has to comply with the existing regulations, his “real disappointment comes with the government outside.”

Theo Young, a freshman from Canada, had been looking forward to learning more about Singaporean society through Week 7. He said: “I feel cheated out of the true Yale-NUS experience yet again. First with COVID restrictions, then the merger, and now the Week 7 cancellation. I am sad to say that my college experience has not been fully what I dreamed it to be yet.” 

“However,” he added, “I think that ‘yet’ is important. These challenges that we have been facing are only setbacks, not earthquakes. Making this year great is still very much possible, and I look forward to playing as big a part in doing that for others as much as I can.”

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