NUS can do more to prevent students from climbing up hostel blocks

By Raymond Anthony Fernando

For a young foreign student who was all excited to be given the chance to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS), it was certainly a tragedy that undergraduate Ms Jung Haelin had to end up falling to her death (NUS student falls and dies after locking herself out of dorm room ; November 2, 2017, Channel News Asia).

Working or studying or abroad comes associated with a wide range of emotions. Happy, excited and thrilled for the opportunity to live in another country and meet people of different races and cultures, yet at the same time possibly feeling homesick and grappling with separation anxiety later when the initial excitement wears off.

For foreigners, the most crucial part of adjusting to life in a different country is during the first three months. Some students will begin to show signs of homesickness after a while, and if NUS counselors or lecturers are trained to spot these troubling signs gestating in them, these affected students can be suitably accorded the emotional support they badly need.

It was reported that the undergraduate had the habit of using an object to wedge the door open when she was out. Perhaps if someone had been brought this to the attention of the counselors, the tragedy could have been avoided.

It would thus be timely to caution students during their orientation as well as send reminders periodically to them that climbing through windows where their safety will be comprised will not be tolerated.

While local students can easily reach out to their families, it is more difficult for foreigners to do so as some could only resort to bottling pent-up emotions. Thus, it’s vital for counselors to constantly keep in touch with foreign students to provide clear guidance and support, as well as to initiate a buddy system so that they do not feel all alone.

In addition, physical safety should be enhanced at NUS. For instance, surveillance cameras could be mounted at areas where students have been known to climb through windows whenever they get locked out of their rooms. Sensors can be placed near such windows so that security personnel will be alerted if anyone attempts to climb through them. Security personnel should also patrol the hostels frequently – especially during the periods when official lectures hours are over.


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