State of Raffles Hall

Friday, February 10, 2006

This might seem irrelevant to most people since it's hall specific, but after the SGM last night and the 'discussion' I had with Mei Kit, I decided to blog a little about what I think about hall, where it stands, and just what I think we should expect in the coming months.

IHG is just over and people are finally able to settle down somewhat. Sports people are happy, although as we've established in the SGM, we shouldn't stop training just because of that. Raffles Hall won gold for Handball, which is exciting since it's one of our hall's best sport. We did pretty well in a lot of other sports, finished 2nd and 3rd a lot but denied a lot of golds unfortunately. I think our sports are doing pretty ok compared to last year, but I must admit that it is frustrating always having to fight from the bottom of the table. Admittedly we're not exactly a sports hall, and not everyone in hall is sporty (in fact generally, most aren't). We'd like to think ourselves more culturally inclined, but even then it's not to say that our culture scene is extremely remarkable.

This academic year has not been a very good one for Raffles Hall. It's generally accepted that this was because of a not so good Raffles Experience (basically Orientation). It may not be the fault of the organisers entirely, but the fact that it wasn't very successful caused a snowball effect that we're still trying to fight off now. The support from our first years are unfortunately, below the level that we wanted. I don't think it's an attitude problem, but the first years this year aren't hall focussed, or at least not as much as we'd like them to be. It's not a right or wrong question, but just where you want to place your time and effort. Sadly for Raffles Hall, most don't seem to want to put it into hall, resulting in lacklustre support in a lot of hall activities. This is by no means attributed only to the first years, because an increasing number of seniors too after being overtaxed, feel like taking a step back from hall. It's sad, but it's happening, and if anything, some people ought to take note of a couple of things.

I think that people need to change with times. No, I'm not advocating change for the sake of changing, but considering the fact that most people who come into university now expect to be treated like adults, it seems highly unwise to do traditional 'ragging'. No company you work for would organise an event (even in team bonding activities organised by external parties) where ragging would take place of a particular person. It's true that probably 20 years ago, (or maybe even as close back as 5), it was generally acceptable in halls or hostels. Do it now and you're likely to land yourself in trouble. It's not the army, so they don't want that kind authoritative activity with seniors lording it over them. Face it, we're now having a generation of people coming to university and do not expect to be treated like school kids or army cadets. They want respect, and no institutionalised, hierarchical activity is going to help integrate them. To put it simply, give them space to bond and facilitate the activity, not throw them in and crush them in the vain hope that they'll pull together and come out stronger... they'll tell you to get lost and ignore you entirely. They have that right and they know it, simply because they owe you nothing. Your approval of them in hall doesn't matter to them until they know that they matter to you, and going army style won't accomplish that.

For instance, let's take the disability game. For all it's worth, I personally feel it's a good game geared towards forcing people to bond together. However, noting that the attitude of people involved in the activities have changed, it may not be suitable to have someone screaming at them, challenging them, scolding them, being all 'high and mighty' when it's not really necessary. They're not in the army, and many aren't inclined to be open minded when their first impression of you is an idiot merely screaming commands and making life more difficult for them. Hope they'd turn around and see the other side of you? Some might, but I guarantee you that many won't. Perhaps it's the way they were brought up, but we have to accept that they may be turned off and we might just lose a bunch of people who can be really passionate about hall simply because we feel that it's 'right' or 'ok' to scream at them.

Also, I've mentioned earlier that it might be good to change the way things are run such that there are facilitators instead of a 'seperate entity meant only to give instructions' method. Now I know there are reasons, and they're probably very good ones. I just ask that you consider this: are those reasons worth sacrificing the bond between seniors and freshmen? Freshmen come in, see the RHOCers distant and unfriendly, they lose their motivation to stay for the whole orientation. Perhaps this is an individual case, where the fault lies with the RHOCers themselves who fail to also bond with the freshmen, but the fact that it failed to attract them to stay throughout makes you wonder if those reasons mentioned earlier are worth it. I for one, would prefer interested, passionate, enthusiastic freshmen than one who cowers when they're ordered around.

Furthermore, I don't think it's a bad idea for seniors to be told the objectives of certain activities. Yes, I know that by joining RHOC we'd find out, but I feel that having seniors aware of what each activity aims to achive helps seniors support better, be more aware of what's going on, be clear as to what needs to be done, and to work together with RHOC to meet those objectives. I don't think I need to mention the amazing 'Tea Ceremony' we had last orientation...

These are merely some of the things which come to mind right now. I'm sure there are many others, and no I don't think I can list them all right now. Some of you might be thinking that since I'm not in RHOC, I know crap and should just shut the hell up. I'm not in RHOC, nor do I foresee myself wanting to be in RHOC. If and only if after reading through everything you find absolutely NO MERIT, that NOTHING HERE makes sense and you can PROVE it, will I refrain from making any further such comments. I just hope the coming orientation will be an interesting one for both freshmen and the incoming RHOCers.

Posted by Gerald at 2/10/2006 04:31:00 PM