How far can we go with ragging?

The recent death of a SCDF NSF raises questions about the age-old culture of ragging.

Nathalie D'Souza
Nathalie D'Souza

Published: 15 May 2018, 10:33 AM

We have all heard or experienced some form of ragging at some point.

You might have gotten your underwear ripped out on your birthday or done embarrassing forfeits during freshman orientation camps. These activities are usually a rite of passage or a celebration of certain milestones.

But they often come at the expense of the victims, who may feel humiliated or harassed. How far should we go with ragging when it comes to celebrating such moments?

What’s going on?

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman died on May 13 after he was found unconscious inside a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station.

Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, had allegedly entered the pump well as part of a “ragging ritual” to celebrate his upcoming operationally-ready date, despite strict rules against the activity.

The incident has reignited the debate on ragging. In 2016, complaints of inappropriate activities in university orientation camps, such as students being repeatedly dunked in water or made to do lewd acts, were in the media spotlight.

Ong Hui Ying, 19, felt that such activities should not be organised at the expense of the participants’ safety.

The third-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student said: “I don’t support ragging in any shape or form, and it seems that such activities are organised simply because they are more risque or more fun.

“If you need to resort to ragging for a memorable bonding experience, it is safe to say you aren’t very good at planning bonding games,” she added.

 Some believe that ragging rituals are unnecessary and abusive. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

Deborah Kek, a third-year Republic Polytechnic student, 19, agreed that safety is most important.

“One should not justify bullying someone else by saying ‘It’s just a tradition’ because this act of ragging just emotionally and physically hurts them,” she said.

Deborah, whose boyfriend is a NSF, added: “These kind of ‘rituals’ can go overboard very easily, [especially if] people do not think twice about doing dangerous things that could risk his life, or anyone else’s.”

On the other hand, some felt that if there are safety precautions in place, ragging may be harmless as it encourages camaraderie among friends.

21-year-old Felicia Chua, a third-year student at Nanyang Technological University, said: “If no one feels hurt, then there’s no harm caused I think.”

While Felicia did not mind the ragging activities during her orientation camp, she believes everyone should have the right to decide if they want to participate.

“It wasn’t that bad because it was just about getting dirty with soap and eggs. I didn’t feel any physical or psychological trauma,” said Felicia.

A netizen suggested making ragging activities “safe and humane”. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

Others feel it is customary for seniors to carry out traditional ‘rites of passage’ on freshmen.

Samuel Tong, 20, said: “It was a tradition for upper secondary students to pile their body weight on top of the freshies during our school camps. I had about six people piled on top of me at that time. When I entered upper secondary, it was my turn to do it to my juniors, and it was fun. On both occasions, no one got injured.”

What’s your take? 

1. Do you think all forms of ragging should be banned? Why?

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