Man at His Best

Other Appalling Things Students Had To Do During Singaporean University Camps

In light of the recent controversy, people who've had experiences with local university camp culture come forward to share their experiences and opinions.

BY EDITORS | Jul 27, 2016 | Culture


Yesterday, news outlets in Singapore shed light to the culture behind the sexualised games that students are coerced into playing during university camps. We spoke to a number of students who shared what they had to do, all in the name of tradition and socialisation. 

1 | "The Secret Partner* activities are fucked up. The guys had to go through a tekan (Singlish: pressurising) session before the date. The girls were all in one room, and their dates would come in one by one. The guys were made to take off their shirts, and humiliated in front of the girls. The camp leaders would ask them to do silly things like mimic praying to a shrine, and recite an oath which went something like this: 'I masturbate ___ times a week with my right/left hand. My favourite porn site is ___, and my favourite genre is ___. I promise to only touch my Secret Partner with my non-masturbatory hand'. This is mostly where the guys choked up. They also had to do forfeits like licking the 'S' of a Skittle off another guy's belly button. It was pretty humiliating. But they said it's all tradition."

2 | "In my orientation camp, we had to do something called a fertility dance, where a guy would thrust towards the girl during Secret Partner. I felt really uncomfortable but back then, I was told to 'oh, just go along with it, it's all in the name of fun'. We protested during the fertility dance, which we were also blindfolded for, but got told to do it regardless. There was also an infamous rape cheer, where we'd call out 'itai itai yamete', which means 'stop, stop, it hurts' in Japanese, a la Japanese pornography. That's the whole cheer, which would be repeated over and over again. The cheers are usually very sexual, and there are lines like 'Uncle make you wet'. I mean, I have to admit that some cheers can be quite funny, when they find innovative ways to inject sexual meanings into otherwise innocent things. There was once during the haze and the air was very dry, so the cheer was 'gan gan gan', which sounded like "dry", until they began panting, and it turned out to be 'gan', as in 'sex' in Hokkein. Most of the time though, it's just really uncomfortable."

3 | "My camp leader called a friend and I up, posing as a Durex survey taker. We were asked a number of questions like, 'do you use our products? How's the performance?'. Even when we said no, they kept asking things like, 'are you going to use it soon? In university, you might have the chance to use it."

4 | "The guys in our group were made to stand in a line and pee in a drain in front of the girls during our camp. There was also a station called Ah gua (Singlish: derogatory term for an effeminate man) contest. There was also some ragging, where other freshies were locked in a crowded cubicle, and were told by the seniors to take off their underwear. I'm not trying to escalate the situation or get anyone into trouble. According to the seniors, these are just traditions, although I do question what traditions should be re-evaluated to suit our time. What to expect at such camps should be made clear to the participants so they can make informed decisions."

5 | "During a freshman camp a few years ago, there was an activity at the beach where the guys were made to stand in a line in the water and take out their pants. A girl would then have to swim through their open legs like a human tunnel. There were also activities that involved passing of food from mouth to mouth. One of the items was seaweed. Usually, these problematic activities are found in some faculty and university/union level camps. The department, CCA and student society camps are more or less clean of such activities."

6 | "I've been hearing about such activities since I was a student in 2006. What I heard then was how in order to stay in the hall, you have to take part in activities to earn points. And some of the activities were just too intense and taking time away from studies. Some friends simply dropped out of staying in the halls. The culture permeates since then. The more risque and risky the activities, the bigger the egos get. And since there wasn't any heavy-handed punishment or mitigation from the faculties, they carried on. This peer pressure business gets to you, I think. I also hear from friends how graduates will actually return to the camps to facilitate and give advice. The leaders have to continuously up the game with riskier games as such."

7 | "I was once in an activity where we were blindfolded, and the girls and guys were guided to touch each other's body parts. It started out innocent enough in a way, but the leaders made really uncomfortable sexual comments about the game, and if anyone didn't touch the other, they'd be forced to."

8 | "We, girls, were made to lie down on the ground while the guys assumed the push-up position over us, but facing the opposite direction, such that our faces were directly under their crotches. It was disgusting. There were couples doing 69s all over the place."

*Secret Partner, to the knowledge of the editors, is a longstanding camp event, whereby participants would be paired off with another individual off the opposite sex, and made to go on a date with them for a period of time within the day.