More than 260 parents insist on meeting NUS president for answers on Yale-NUS College closure

The NUS president has offered to meet in smaller groups instead of all parents at once.

Belmont Lay | September 09, 2021, 07:45 PM

More than 260 parents of Yale-NUS College students and alumni are insisting on meeting the National University of Singapore (NUS) president Tan Eng Chye after their request for some face time with him en masse was rebuffed once.

The parents are requesting to hear from Tan personally in a townhall meeting regarding why the college closed down, because they claimed that answers have not been forthcoming.

They have set the virtual townhall meeting at on Friday, Sep. 10, 2021 at 7pm.

The parents also assured Tan that the meeting will be a "usual dialogue format" to "keep to the participant limit to avoid having to use a webinar format".

The correspondences between the parents and Tan were sent to, and is understood to have also been circulated among other media outlets in Singapore.

Mass meeting not feasible

Tan is not unamenable to meeting with the parents.

He has agreed in his letter to meet parents of both Yale-NUS students and University Scholars Programme (USP) students in the later part of September.

But these meetings will take place over a series of individual face-to-face interactions instead of a large group setting.

Tan's e-mail reply on Sep. 7 to the parents' letter cited prevailing Covid-19 measures as the reason for breaking up the large group into smaller ones.

Parents not convinced

The parents turned down Tan's suggestion to meet with them in person in small groups.

They are sceptical that in-person meetings can be held to include everyone who signed off in the letter.

The letter to Tan said: "In-person, one-to-one meetings at a later date in September are not appropriate given the present outlook of the Covid-19 situation in Singapore."

"There are over 260 of us parents who have expressed interest to engage in dialogue with you, and we find it unlikely that you will hold over 50 meetings with us. This is not accounting for the parents from USP."

The letter added: "Additionally, parents who are abroad would be excluded from in-person meetings despite them having raised their concerns as well."

Timeline of events

The parents, who signed off as concerned parents of current and deferred students, and alumni, sent the first letter to Tan on Monday, Sep. 6.

They said they wanted Tan to answer their questions on the reasons for the merger of Yale-NUS and USP, which they said have not been answered after the merger was abruptly announced on Aug. 27.

The letter said parents have not been engaged by NUS, despite an NUS spokesperson having told the media that the university was working closely with faculty, students, staff and alumni of Yale-NUS and USP.

Tan replied to the letter on Tuesday saying he was agreeable to meeting them in smaller groups.

The parents then sent another letter on Wednesday rejecting Tan's offer and called for an online townhall meeting.

The parents called for a mass town hall as it was what was arranged previously when news broke to students about Yale-NUS folding.

The parents wrote: "We find that this is a reasonable and respectful request, seeing as to how you preferred to announce your decision to shutter Yale-NUS' door through a town hall for students."

Tan has not met with parents

So far, Tan has not formally met with parents.

But it is not as if the parents had not tried to set up other meetings with Tan.

The parents claimed that requests for Tan to be present at a townhall meeting on Sep. 2 with Yale-NUS leadership were declined by his office.

That meeting was not attended by the NUS administration.

The administration explained that the session was organized exclusively for the Yale-NUS community.

The Yale-NUS leadership, the parents also claimed, has not been able to answer questions pertaining to Yale-NUS College's closure.

It has since come to light that NUS in July formally discussed with Yale University on ending the Yale-NUS College collaboration, and the Yale-NUS leadership was only notified after the decision was made.

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