|SDU and University Orientations
||[Sep. 10th, 2007|01:12 pm]
This one time, at orientation camp...|
The Straits Times
September 3, 2007
JULY is when Cupid is overworked - on university campuses, that is.
Orientation camps are proving to be so effective at getting boys and girls into relationships, organisers have scored funding for their work.
The Social Development Unit (SDU) initiative launched in 2003, Project Network, has co-funded 242 events at the three big campuses - the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU).
The SDU is not hard-selling anything.
Instead, said its spokesman, its aim is 'to equip undergraduates with social skills and to maximise social interaction opportunities for them'.
She declined to say how much money goes into sponsorships. To obtain funding, student leaders must agree to romance-friendly conditions.
For instance, activities must have a gender ratio of at least 60 to 40. They must also plan for adequate social interaction.
Attendees are well aware of this 'match fixing'.
Miss Estelle Low, 19, a second-year mass communications student at NTU, met her current boyfriend at camp.
'We are seen as a viable target group,' she said, adding that it was an 'optimum period' for students to meet mates. 'In junior college, our lives were still very stressful. And at the workplace, there will be fewer opportunities for us to fall in love.'
The guise of an orientation camp is convenient.
Guy-girl pairing activities are fixtures of orientation programmes. As NUS Kent Ridge Hall orientation chairman Mohamad Rizal, 23, points out: 'We didn't have to include more 'lovey-dovey' activities in our proposal...The SDU was happy to sponsor us.'
The hall's activities, like The Dating Game, call for freshmen to ask a senior of the opposite sex to dinner, even if it means serenading them in public.
Secret Pal, too, has become a staple. Here, boys and girls are paired up and write anonymously to each other.
At NTU and SMU campuses, games where boys piggy-back girls or pass bits of food to each other mouth to mouth are carried out without complaint.
The SDU is not complaining either.
The unit's survey of its 78,000 participants indicated that 88 per cent made new friends. Five per cent, in fact, began dating afterwards.
Among them is Mr Sing Junhong, 26, and Miss Cheryl Cheong, 24, who met through NTU's engineering faculty orientation camp three years ago.
He was a third-year student on the orientation committee; she, a freshman.
He asked her to dance on Secret Pal Night, a dinner-and-dance event to mark the end of orientation week. By the end of the night, the pair had exchanged numbers. A year, numerous calls and text messages later, he asked her out.
Mr Sing said: 'It's a win-win situation for both the SDU and the students. The unit gets to achieve its aims while we get to meet more people.'
Besides, he added, dating is simpler before work sets in. 'Lecture halls just don't provide the same atmosphere.'
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WONG HUIXUAN, FIRST-YEAR PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR, NUS