NUS defends student 'cyber bullied' after writing commentary asking not to be cancelled

Discussions should be carried out 'in a civil and respectful manner', the Dean of FASS said.

Tanya Ong | March 17, 2021, 10:48 AM

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Dean at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has spoken out on behalf of one of its students who wrote a commentary published in Today over the weekend.

In a Facebook post on March 16, which specifically mentioned the incident involving undergraduate Dana Teoh, he said that they have seen instances of "cyber-bullying" and "personal attacks against her" .

NUS: Refrain from making personal attacks against her

FASS Dean Robbie Goh said that the commentary attracted polarising comments.

However, he believes that a "safe and conducive environment" is necessary for rigorous and intellectual debate to take place.

And where views differ, discussions should be carried out "in a civil and respectful manner".

Goh asked that those with differing views refrain from making personal attacks against the student, adding that the school is committed to ensure a nurturing and supportive environment for all students.

The post also acknowledged the "good work" of the Department of Communications and New Media in educating students.

"We will continue to strive to nurture balanced and fair discussion," Goh added.

You can see the full post here:

What was the article about?

Over the weekend, Today published a commentary by NUS student Dana Teoh, titled, "This is why I don’t want to be woke. Don’t cancel me for it".

The commentary was on "cancel culture" and being "woke" in Singapore, where she raised points on how outrage has made it extremely difficult for people to have discussions on difficult topics.

She also brought up an example suggesting that JK Rowling had been "cancelled" after a tweet that was written in a "less-than-tactful" manner.

What happened next?

The article attracted a range of reactions on various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

There was also a Clubhouse discussion and a "peer review" to dissect Teoh's views.

Some were highly critical of the article, spawning discussions on the topics Teoh had raised.

After the commentary gained traction among critics, Associate Professor Bertha Henson, who teaches Communications & New Media students in NUS, clarified in a Facebook post that Teoh's piece was actually a "class assignment" on how students viewed the "woke culture".

Henson said she found Teoh's script was the best out of her 24 students' work.

Henson also defended the piece, saying that she will "stand by the column and the columnist".

Top photo screenshot, NUS FB.