In a stunning development, the National University of Singapore (NUS) Thursday expelled over 800 students for plagiarism. The move came after students submitted identical petitions urging the school to improve its handling of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. University spokesperson Wah Boh Chup said in a statement that the move reflected NUS’s zero-tolerance approach to academic dishonesty and cheating.
“At NUS, we strive to be a world-class research institution. That means we hold our students to higher standards,” said Wah. “The petitions were in blatant violation of multiple school policies. First, they showed no sense of propriety – despite being addressed directly to President Tan Eng Chye, the students had the temerity to make demands rather than polite requests. As Asia’s top university, we expect our students to respect traditional Asian values such as veneration of elders and deference to authority.”
“Second, their submissions were identical! Look,” he continued, “every single one includes this line: The University’s handling of such cases reveals its disregard for students’ well-being and mental health, and fosters a hostile environment for survivors of sexual assault. No citations! Not even a footnote! I mean, if you’re going to copy others, at least be smart about it. What’s the point of making them do General Paper in JC if they don’t even bother to paraphrase? The only way we could have even more evidence of their wrongdoing were if we had CCTV footage of them sitting down and copying each other’s work – but obviously, we don’t need that much proof to expel someone.”
Wah admitted that the decision to expel was not taken likely. “We only took such drastic action after heavy consideration. Expelling 800 students looks bad, but we went over the QS metrics and decided it was worth it. Everyone knows that academic research is only valuable if its original, and these students obviously don’t care about originality. More importantly, the fact they bothered to write about ‘campus life’ instead of focusing on the ultimate good of producing peer-reviewed knowledge means they’re probably not motivated academics anyway. We agreed losing them wouldn’t affect our research scores and, let’s be real, it’s not like NTU is catching us anytime soon.”
Student reaction was mixed. Vanessa Ong, who narrowly avoided expulsion by submitting her own petition, said the decision proved her point that university administration was more concerned with international rankings than student welfare. Samantha Chew, a medical student, said that while she thought the university could handle incidents better, the petition writers should have focused on their studies as they could always advocate for change later. An anonymous student on NUSConfessions said he saw nothing wrong with how the university handled sexual harassment and that the petition writers should have minded their own business.
While we attempted to follow up with each of the students, we were sadly unable to do so as Samantha was busy with exams. Meanwhile, Vanessa delayed all further interviews to deal with a new university investigation into the length of her skirt during Orientation.