Story | Suman Padhi (she/her), Contributing Writer
Photo | Darren Ang (he/him)
My entire summer has been spent in constant excitement for college—this new, unknown phase of my life that will be an important milestone in my future professional and personal life. Like many other freshmen and the eight other batches before me, I came in with lots of hopes, dreams, and ideas to join this vibrant community and go through new experiences.
Though I’m still unable to make it to campus, the idea that I’d be able to join my classmates on campus soon and avail myself of the numerous opportunities afforded to me as a Yale-NUS College student kept me going. It’s only the third week of school, and we were bombarded with the fact that we are the last group of Kingfishers ever. I don’t know what this means for any of us.
When I talk to my classmates, they echo my feelings of uncertainty, fear, and despondency. I feel betrayed, hurt, and left out by a school administration that told me I was going to get a liberal arts education worthy of any top-tier liberal arts school in the U.S., whilst experiencing the melting pot and pan-Asian culture of Singapore. Now, I don’t know if I will get this. The promises made seem false to me now. My future as a Yale-NUS student is uncertain. Upon my graduation, my alma mater will essentially be defunct. Gone. I’ll never have the privilege of being able to return to these walls, these gardens, these facilities where I will have lived and learned for some of the most important years of my life.
It’s saddening to know that the freedom and opportunities that were provided by this safe space of liberal thought will no longer exist in the future. I am not only disheartened for myself and the batches that came before me, but also for the future classes who will never get to experience Yale-NUS and its unique culture. They’ll never know the wonders and struggles of our Common Curriculum that bond us together as a batch and as a school, nor will they know the wonders of Halcyon or Gohan or the kitties that live by Elm. Forevermore from 2022, we will be fragmented—never to be fully whole again. Yale-NUS is the corner of Singapore where students are free to be themselves; to flaunt their personality, their sexuality, and themselves without fear, and now I fear that this will no longer be the case.
I am upset. I am angry. I am grieving the loss of a school that I never got to fully experience. Being away from campus as an online student presents its own set of struggles, as I grapple with my own disbelief and hurt whilst desperately wanting to be on campus. My screams were not heard. My tears were not seen. My anger and grief were not felt.
But, as I write this, I remain intently grasping that thin string of hope that promises that maybe things will be alright. Yale-NUS students have always been resilient no matter what. We have bounced back before and I am fully sure that we will again. As I “Take Root” in YNC culture for the last time, I will remember to cherish every single memory that I will make in these four years, and keep it close to my heart.
There was a decision to be made, and he made it.