DOS Update #2 - The Proximity of Noses

Photo: Resident Advisor (RAD) Tan Tek Min takes meal orders and sends them to students who are under self-quarantine. He takes special note of requests from vegetarians and the lactose intolerant.

29 January 2020

Dear Students:

Daily food delivery to student residents on self-quarantine

Today, I joined Resident Advisor (RAD) Tan Tek Min to deliver lunch to the students who are under self-quarantine at an NUS hostel. Together with student leaders, residential advisors, resident fellows and Masters deliver food three times a day, every day.

From tomorrow onwards, these students will also receive a Care Package comprising breakfast items and snacks such as fruits, cookies, potato chips, bread and jam to help them tide over this period of isolation.

All students who deliver food to fellow residents are trained volunteers – some are student leaders who have the position of resident assistants. Others are students who live in the hostel and have stepped up to help.

Mental wellness of self-quarantined students

Two weeks confined is difficult – we take every possible measure to make them comfortable during their time in self-quarantine. Beyond the physical comforts, we have also put in place new lines of emotional support through the Student Support Managers and Residential Staff. These staff contact the students regularly to check on their well-being.

We also provide emotional support via the NUS Lifeline +65 6516 7777

Severe penalties for non-compliance

John Stuart Mill writes on Liberty but also on the limits of such liberties: “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” At a time when the public interest contests with private liberties, we will find noses are far closer than before.

Here are two hard measures which NUS has put in place.

1. Sanctions for Breach of Leave of Absence and Self-Quarantine

As of today, students on self-quarantine in NUS Halls, Residential Colleges and Residences will need to acknowledge and sign on a set of rules and instructions.

Under the NUS Statutes and Regulations  Statute 6, Discipline with Respect to Students, the University can impose immediate suspension for 1 month for  offenders who:

  • Fail to comply with OSHE circular relating to students who returned from mainland China in the last 14 days including: breaking quarantine, attending classes, not seeing a doctor when sick (cough, sore throat, breathlessness, fever, runny nose).
  • Make false travel declaration or failure to declare travel history when student had returned from mainland China in the last 14 days.

Offenders will be referred to the NUS Board of Discipline (BOD), who may impose a longer period of suspension. Repeat offenders  may be suspended  for a semester or more and may even be expelled  from the University.

2. Hard Declaration: Travel history

From today, you will find that you cannot log onto LumiNUS until you have made a travel declaration

Our Best Selves

At NUS, we treat student interests as primary, and usually, at a very granular level – we look at each person’s growth and educational needs. We enforce discipline of course – demanding deadlines, academic integrity and high standards of classroom behaviour - but the iron fist is usually in a thick velvet glove.

Today however, the gloves are off. Sanctions are severe and will be strictly enforced as public interest demands.

Still, sanctions no matter how severe work only as deterrence at the margins. For the most part, in a campus with 50,000 people, we rely on people to do the right thing. People like the students on LOA, stoic in their isolation. People like Tek Min, and the many student leaders and volunteers like him, faithful in their duties, in rain or shine, three times a day.

They show us a way to be our best selves.

A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students


#QOTD (Questions of the Day)

Question: “I am
going to Taiwan in February 2020 for my exchange programme, may I know what is my next course of action? I am worried for my safety as Taiwan have close proximity to China.”

Answer: There is no restriction on travel to Taiwan. Students and staff have been advised to defer official trips to mainland China from January to March 2020 only. 

Question: “I see many students on campus wearing masks. Should I start wearing a surgical mask or a N95 mask? Who should be wearing a mask?”

No need, masks are generally not needed for people who are well.  

If you are unwell, wear a disposable surgical mask as it will help reduce the spread of any infection. Do not use the N95 mask. Surgical masks can help block large-particle droplets and splatter from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose, and reduce exposure of the wearer’s saliva and respiratory secretions to others. (see infographic on Advisory on Wearing Masks, under section "Content you can use")

N95 masks, which are tighter fitting, are not recommended as they are designed in a way that would make it difficult for people to breathe in if they are worn properly.


Question: “I returned to Singapore from China a few days before 13 January 2020, would it be better for me to stay at home and monitor my body condition, or to continue come to school as usual?”

Answer: Come to school as usual. Study hard. Have fun.

Read More: 

DOS Update #3 -- Black cats, white cats and the placebo effect (30 January 2020)


DOS Update #1 -- 28 January 2020

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