NTU Looks For “Inspiring” White Horses

If you think Singapore is a true meritocracy, an e-mail sent by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) may make you want to reconsider, after the university openly called people born with a silver spoon in their mouths “inspirational”.

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Elitist Email

In a Facebook post last week (April 5), netizen Joel Chong posted a screenshot of an e-mail purportedly sent to the graduating batch of students at NTU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), asking for graduands with inspirational stories to come forward, and possibly appear across communication platforms to share their stories.

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Sounds like something harmless, who doesn’t want to hear inspirational stories of:

  1. Successful students who have many job offers or who have set up their own businesses
  2. Students who overcame great odds to succeed
  3. “Celebrity” students
  4. Teen prodigies, and older people who guaduated later in life 
  5. Students who are related to each other
  6. Kids of important people

Wait, what? Kids of people who are important are also inspirational?

Meaning all you have to do to be inspirational is to simply be born into a famous family, to parents who are important people, but you don’t actually have to lift a finger to achieve anything yourself?

This is supposed to inspire people?

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Netizens’ Rage

The e-mail raised the hackles of netizens, who plastered Reddit and Facebook with their complaints.

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Others defended the school, saying that they were just looking for people with interesting lives.

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And of course, there were the those that have long resigned to the fact that some people are just different, and were just grateful that the school was honest.

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Clearing The Air

Then there was the netizen named Daoyi Lin who left an official-sounding comment in reply to Joel Chong’s original Facebook post, claiming to be speaking on behalf of the NTU administration.

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In his comment, he said the intention behind the e-mail has been “misinterpreted”, and assured everyone that the “diversity” of students was treasured.

However, it was strange indeed that he did not identify exactly who he was, other than that he was speaking on behalf of Dr Tan Joo Ean, an assistant chair at HSS.

A little digging into the HSS website revealed that there is a Lin Daoyi named as a senior assistant manager working under Dr Tan:

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However, there is no certainty as to whether the commenter’s real identity is accurate.

Now We All Know HSS

While it sounds rather elitist and plutocratic to assign “inspirational” status to what national servicemen would call a “white horse”, this could also have been a case of poor phrasing by HSS.

Perhaps the school was just trying to give students a variety of perspectives when choosing speakers for their convocations?

However, the school has indeed achieved their purpose of spreading its name via the media — albeit in a dubious way.

Featured image from Facebook