Students at Yale University’s new liberal arts college in Singapore will enjoy academic freedoms, but will not be able to stage protests on campus, officials at the Ivy League university say.
A human rights group has accused the university of betraying its own principles by accepting the constraints imposed by Singaporean law. Members of the university’s arts and science faculty have also criticized the plans.
Yale is based in Connecticut and is establishing the college with the National University of Singapore to open in 2013.
Singapore’s schools are internationally renowned and the national university already cooperates with other US universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but the Asian city state retains restrictions on speech and assembly. It has democratic elections, but has been ruled by the same party since it gained independence from Britain five decades ago.
“Yale entered its partnership with the National University of Singapore in full awareness that national laws concerning freedom of expression would place constraints on the civic and political behavior of students and faculty,” Yale University president Richard Levin said on Thursday.
Human Rights Watch says Singapore’s 2009 Public Order Act requires a permit for people to meet for a “cause-related activity” and outdoor gatherings of five or more people require police permission. Limited demonstrations and rallies are allowed, however, at Singapore’s Speakers’ Corner.
In April, after the two universities announced the new venture, members of Yale’s arts and science faculty passed a resolution expressing concern over “the lack of respect for civil and political rights” in Singapore and urged the new college to uphold principles of civil liberty, non-discrimination and political freedom, which it said are at the heart of liberal arts education.