In our second interview with the MC nominees, we interview OneUSP, consisting of:
- Glenn Heng (Business, Year 1, running for Public Relations Director)
- Goh Seng Chiy (Chemical Engineering, Year 1, running for Director of Social & Cultural Activities)
- Arjun Balasubramaniam (Mechanical Engineering, Year 1, running for FOP Director)
- See Ying Ting (Environmental Engineering + Economics DDP, Year 1, running for Sports Director)
- Mitchelle Ang (FASS, Year 1, running for Director of Community Service)
Q. Hello guys. Firstly, would any of you like to give me a more detailed version of your plans for the position you are running in that you have mentioned so far?
Mitchelle: I aim to captivate the entire student body into community service. USP has many people from different disciplines, so they naturally tend to think and act differently. So if I want to capture the entire student body for community service, I need to organise different kinds of events. For example, yesterday I mentioned a Colour Run-like event, which has the main aim of charity; I believe it would appeal to people who might like sports more. I might also conduct different kinds of activities. For example, I could sell paintings painted by the needy at a bazaar in the lobby; this would appeal to others who are more artistically inclined. Different kinds of events will captivate the entire student community and get them to participate in community service more actively.
Ying Ting: I feel that USP is a very diverse group of people and sports is one of the key platforms that can bring people together. One way we can bring more people together is to organise some major activities, such as introductory sessions for the various mainstream sports like floorball and basketball, so that people who want to explore new sports actually have the chance to do so. It would really be a platform where everybody can meet everybody else in USP and interact with each other. A good time for this to happen is during recess week. I think this would be a good way to unify people.
A key thing that the Sports Committee will have to look into is the sports interest groups. As of now, most of the sports interest groups are autonomous and run by themselves. But I think I could work on more as a Sports Director to increase support for them, especially for groups which are not so established yet and probably don’t have a core team, making it harder to organise trainings because of attendance and budgeting issues. I think that it’s important to help these groups because there will be a few individuals who are very passionate about it. What they need is more people to jump onboard so that they can push forward their passions and dreams.
Another key thing I want to look into as a Sports Director is the idea of having inter-RC IGs, especially for groups where there is a lack of interested people within USP itself. I know one friend who wants to start this Japanese sword art IG called Nihonto-Do, but he couldn’t find sufficient people in USP to start the interest group. There was a lot of red tape – for example, he was not allowed to advertise in the lift unless there were at least four people in the group, but he only had three. So he couldn’t go around trying to publicise and get people to join him because of the restrictions in place. Because of that, he tried to approach Tembusu but he’s not certain of how inter-RC IGs would function, because there is a lack of a concrete solid example that is in place right now.
The last thing that I want to do is review the equipment loaning system because I think that there have been issues about missing logistics or equipment that are very easily spoilt. It is also very important that I connect with sports IGs on a very personal basis – especially to the sports captains – so I can cater to all their needs. I can help resolve issues with booking their facilities and also help them to organise friendlies. These are the things that I think we can look into, and especially the inter-RC IGs. Using sports in this way can help to break down the social barriers across the residential colleges and bring people who stay in UTown together.
Q. Ying Ting, do you think committing to MC will be a problem given that you are in a double degree programme?
Ying Ting: I will think that there will be a certain degree of time management required. On top of that, there are many USP students who are engaged in a lot of CCAs outside USP. But I am not engaged in any CCA, so my commitment will be to the MC and my studies. I think that is quite manageable as long as I plan out my time and take ownership of my own studies.
Q. Rag has been a polarising issue in USP. It’s not something you can just suddenly scale up. Arjun, based on what you said yesterday, are you certain that you want to incorporate more of Rag into orientation or will you be getting more feedback from the ground first?
Arjun: Based on feedback from my own batchmates, peers, and seniors involved in the Rag Committee, Rag appears to be a very troublesome process because it involves a lot of man-hours and resources. Because of that, they say that the payoff is not worth the amount of effort that is spent on Rag. But at the same time, the payoff is great because firstly, it puts USP as a faculty in front of the school on the same playing field; secondly, it serves to unite people within the USP community beyond the boundaries of houses. Other perspectives that were released yesterday involved an alternative to Rag which also allows people to bond on a similar level across houses and social boundaries. But until such an alternative is concretely in place, I think that Rag is an option that can carry on. Removing the idea of Rag would be the simple way out.
Q. How would you get people who are reluctant to go for Rag to participate? And will you keep Rag optional?
Arjun: I will still maintain Rag as an optional activity because in order to take part in Rag, you have to have a certain amount of interest in it –be it dance, cheer, or engineering. If you don’t have an interest and are forced in, the quality of the product will not be up to the standard of an interfaculty level across the school. So in order to have that level of interest, commitment, and passion, it still has to be an optional activity.
I was involved all the way from pre-Scholaris. During that time, there was a simple email sent out to publicise Rag which did give too many details. As a result, the people who joined Rag at the start were very limited because the email that was sent out did not garner enough interest. I believe the key to getting people at the start and therefore getting and maintaining their interest would be a more cohesive, thought-out marketing campaign to pull more freshmen in and give them a reason to join Rag. Because once they join Rag, they will see the meaning of it and be motivated to stick on from the very beginning at the onset before Scholaris. I believe the key is to get their interest from early on so that they will bring their friends in, and the manpower will snowball all the way to Rag. As to how the interest will be gotten, I believe that I mentioned that it would be united with the orientation experience. The Rag activities will somehow fit into the orientation theme so that they work towards a common goal. When the freshmen are told that it’s all part of the same thing, they will be more motivated to join as well.
Q. What do you all think about the house system?
Seng Chiy: Although I think that it is actually a very good system, I think that a delicate balance has to be struck. It shouldn’t be too dominant such that everyone only has friends within their house. Because the USP community is so small, it is a reasonable expectation to have friends outside of your houses. Just limiting yourself to the 20-odd people in your house, I think it’s a bit too insular. It defeats the purpose of USP and RC life, because you are supposed to interact with people from other disciplines. I think this move to the integration of houses with neighbourhoods has to be done very carefully and it cannot go overboard such that everyone just sticks to their own house or their own neighbourhood and has no friends anywhere else. Well, I’m an engineer and I realized that if I only made friends with other engineers, I would get a very skewed worldview and perspective. This was one of the main reasons why I applied for USP – to expose myself to people from other disciplines, with different perspectives, hopefully growing and maturing as a person in the process. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that way, and this is why I’m so passionate about encouraging intermingling between all members of the USP community.
Ying Ting: I think the house system in general is a good system. I have not attended boarding school, so as a freshie moving in, the idea of moving in alone is quite scary. But the house system is like a family system. It’s very heartwarming – when you move in, it makes you feel not so alone and it’s not that scary to move in. I think it’s a very good system, but while orientation and camp are good for fostering our relationship with our houses and making us feel welcome and at home here, more activities could be done after orientation – more sports and social/cultural activities, for example. Not inter-house, because it will be competitive between the houses. After orientation, we should venture in a direction where there are less house-oriented activities more activities that cut across them.
Mitchelle: On the community service side, we can also help to do something for the house system. During Pre-Flag, they did not group people according to houses so that there will be interaction across the different houses. Such things are good. If I were to be director, that’s what I would also do: group people from different houses into the same community service project to enhance the interaction between the students.
Arjun: during orientation, a lot of emphasis is placed on the house system, and that is the reason why everyone ends up sticking to their house groups even after orientation is over. That is why I plan to emphasise less on the competitiveness between houses during orientation through activities like Rag which will bring people together across houses from the start, which is easier than having to do it later on.
Q. Glenn, could you provide more details on how are you planning to move forward with both the Cinnamon Roll and the USC website?
Glenn: I think we should make the Cinnamon Roll website more accessible; the Cinnamon Roll should be accessible via the USC website and the USP website as well. The public will be able to look at the Cinnamon Roll and be more aware of what is going on in the university, and be able to see the capable and talented students in USP. They will gain greater awareness of events and how student life in USP is like.
There’s a lot of confusion between the USP homepage and the USC website. From what I hear from seniors who use it often, they only use it to book facilities or loan equipment. And there’s a lot of dead ends which have to be navigated through and it’s very unappealing to use the website. I’ve discussed this with Lee He, and he said that right now the main job is to clean the website first. It’s not a revamp; it’s not like we are going to turn Windows into Apple. It’s just a refurbishment of the website so that there will not be that many dead ends.
Regarding USP Life!, a lot of the IGs are using it to disseminate information and do publicity. I think it shouldn’t be stopped because it is easy to track RSVPs, invitations, and the number of likes on Facebook, and it’s great for events management. But I think that one idea that could possibly be done is to make the IG portion of the USC website open source. I heard that it’s already open source but IGs are not using it. Changing that will involve a lot of engagement with the IGs. One way is to attend events with the IG, network with them, and ask them if they could come up with one or two photographs and a short essay of what their IG is about. I think that these small baby steps will go a long way in creating a better USC website.
Thank you for your answers everyone, and all the best for the MC elections!