Standing together in the face of adversity: NTU Student Community

We’re barely a month in 2020 and the world has been plagued by quite a number of disastrous events. The outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus has sent the world into quite a frenzy. From price hikes of surgical face masks to using large plastic bottles as protective headgear, news of the virus has dominated popular discourse and is a cause for global concern. Singapore’s response to the virus has been to issue travel bans, give out free masks, and designate areas of quarantine as numbers are expected to rise. While the general public watches on intently, there are a special group of individuals that want to do more in these troubled times. 

The halls of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has been one of the designated areas for quarantine. Currently, there are a few students that have been affected as they’ve recently arrived from China and are isolated from the rest of the school. From the perspective of the general public, this move is seen as mandatory, but what do the students think about this? 

We spoke to Frank Meng, the president of the Graduate Students’ Clubs at NTU. They are currently the main point of contact and the bridge of communication between the affected students and the school. We spoke to him for a little more insight on how the situation is being navigated in real-time. 

Being isolated from the larger community is not fun, however, because it is a necessary measure and people have been largely cooperative. However, most students are worried about how their studies would be affected because of mandatory isolation. Because of how quickly preventive measures were taken, there were issues of poor communication and a lack of information from the school to the students. This is where the various clubs step in to help manage the confusion and chaos.

Student representatives have been working tirelessly to collate questions and answers to facilitate a smoother transmission of messages because the administrative side gets flooded with emails, causing a slower response to each student with a query. They’ve held information sessions and created infographics on social media to get these messages across.

Disseminating information
Photo source from NTU Student Union

The amount of work that goes into these tend to go under-appreciated because clear communication is often expected, considering the state of affairs, it is commendable that the Student Union undertook such a responsibility.  

On top of managing communication, there have been efforts to convert offline lessons online. With E-learning and digital classrooms, one would not expect this to be a problem. Due to how there are offline lessons going on simultaneously, some student volunteers are helping with optimising the lesson by recording and uploading them to the digital platforms. In this time of need, it is heartening to see the school as a community coming together, taking on additional tasks to support those affected by something so unexpected. 

Photo source from NTU Student Union

According to Frank, the logistics behind food distribution was something that had to be considered as well because those quarantined cannot leave to get food on their own. As such, it was up to students of the Students Union to come up with a system to distribute food effectively. If you think about it, the amount of manpower and administrative effort would be considerably high because many students would be using their breaks and free time to help out. Their goodwill and commitment to their fellow students is admirable and pushes us to think about our role in this time of turmoil. 

Photo source from NTU Student Union

On top of distributing food, helping with converting lessons and being messengers, the student union has curated welfare packs for the affected students. What a sweet gesture to show the isolated students that they are not forgotten! Indeed in difficult times, it is important that we stand together and help one another. 

Amidst the chaos, xenophobia and general anxiety over the issue, we need to remember that at the end of the day, it’s everyone against the virus. The Wuhan Coronavirus should not be an excuse for people to be nasty towards one another, rather, this calls for greater compassion and cooperation. Through taking preventative measures, cooperating with government bodies and generally taking collective responsibility for our health, we can prevent the spread and contain the virus. 

Following in the footsteps of NTU’s student union, let’s approach this with more understanding and make life a little less difficult for those affected by the quarantine. 

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