By Rosalinda Phan
Photo credit: Joey Ong
In our next interview with the 14th MC nominees, The Cinnamon Roll chats with Wang Jia Liang, a year 1 Business Administration major running for the position of Freshmen Orientation Director.
“Inclusiveness” was a word frequently brought up during The Cinnamon Roll’s interview with Jia Liang, who finds that the lack of it often plagues largely social events such as Orientation. As such, he stressed on the importance of including activities that catered to both ends of the spectrum – those who are completely at ease with the idea of social interaction after social interaction and those who may find it too draining.
“My vision for next year’s FOP is for it to be all-inclusive, where extroverts and introverts alike feel that activities cater sufficiently to them,” he said.
Alluding to recent news surrounding University orientation camps which attracted outrage over “indecent” activities teeming with unnecessary physical contact between genders and camp participants suffering seizures due to insufficient rest, Jia Liang assured: “There will be none of those. The bottom line is that Orientation must be something through which incoming freshmen can make friends meaningfully and integrate into University life, regardless of personality type.”
“Furthermore, I believe there is still potential for boosting intra-house bonding through activities such as heart-to-heart talks which would allow house members to get to know one another better on a deeper level, rather than form just superficial friendships.” he added.
He also mentioned that FOP could serve a purpose in piquing the interests of freshmen in representing USP at the Inter-Faculty Games, which are commonly held in first few weeks of school. How he felt this could be accomplished dovetailed nicely with another goal of his, which is to enhance inter-house bonding.
“One thing that I feel could be improved on is inter-house bonding. What we really want to avoid is division amongst the houses which could potentially arise from the number of competitive inter-house activities during orientation. One way this could perhaps be done is by dedicating one day of O Week to letting freshmen try out various sports they can represent USP in at the IFG. Hopefully in doing so, they make friends from other Houses and feel more of an impetus to participate in IFG.
On the planning end, Jia Liang’s primary goal is still to organise an orientation that incoming freshmen would find meaningful, it is also of heavy importance to him that “the seniors involved in the planning of FOP next year would find it an enjoyable experience as well”.
“There should be greater transparency between the main committee and the rest, or in other words more effective communication between the top and the bottom. I am very people-oriented and believe that it is important to ensure equal distribution of work as well as to maintain healthy team dynamics throughout the course of the planning process. When planning relatively large scale events like orientation, it’s almost inevitable that people will burn out due to stress and so it’s crucial to pre-empt possible outcomes that could arise from this, such as infighting,” he added.
Jia Liang made clear what he felt was implicit in the role of the FOP Director, which is to grant his committee members space to discuss freely and introduce their ideas for FOP.
“If I were to be elected, I would aim to give more autonomy while exercising quality control at the same time.” he explained, “I’m open to all ideas and don’t wish to impose my own at this point.”
As for his thoughts on Rag, the potential FOP Director endorses USP’s participation in the controversial and divisive issue. Many members of the community have questioned if the effort invested is proportionate to the rewards reaped.
Jia Liang asserted: “To me, the costs of doing Rag are justified by the end result: bringing those involved together to commit to a common goal and to bond over the project. Moreover, Rag also plays a huge role in fostering relationships among freshmen who may belong to different houses, despite the fact that freshmen usually sign up for Rag together with their fellow house members.”
That being said, having been part of USC Rag this year, Jia Liang was determined that, should he be elected, he would ensure that “all those involved in Rag, especially the freshmen, are better kept in the loop.”
“It’s important to have everyone knowing what is going on and feeling that they have a stake in the project and a sense of ownership over it,” he elaborated.
Jia Liang also felt positively about the way Flag Day was done this year: ”Though not the traditional NUS Flag Day, I feel that doing community work instead of merely collecting money for organisations is a better springboard to kick-starting interest in community service, and so I feel that this should continue to be in place.”
But these ideas and aspirations aside, what makes Jia Liang suitable for the job, you may ask?
“An FOP director should be flexible, adaptable and stress-tolerant.” he asserts, “and I am confident that I possess these qualities.”
During the interview, The Cinnamon Roll learnt of Jia Liang’s leadership experiences, which he had glossed over earlier during the Q&A session. One would be impressed to know that in Junior College alone, he had belonged to five different CCAs and had also been actively involved in the planning of multiple school-wide events running the gamut from Council functions such as Total Defence Day and feedback sessions to Service Learning activities, not to mention Orientation as well.
The role of Freshman Orientation Director is sure to be a demanding one and his track record does seem to show that he is capable of handling the pressure.
“At the end of the day, what I want is for everyone involved in FOP, be it as a freshmen participant or as a senior involved in the planning and execution, to have as many good memories of it as possible.”