Singapore University Says It Welcomes Discussion With Yale

The National University of Singapore said it welcomes a discussion with Yale University after professors at the Ivy League school expressed concern about civil and political rights at a branch campus scheduled to open in the Asian city-state next year.

The campus, which will be jointly overseen by the two institutions, will be the first overseas branch in Yale’s 300-year history. It’s one of a number of campuses in East Asia being developed by U.S. colleges, among them New York University and Duke University.

Those campuses face restrictions on academic and political freedoms, Yale professors say, and they are also concerned about human rights in Singapore and faculty exclusion from the planning.

“It is understandable that for a pioneering initiative like the Yale-NUS College, there may be a diversity of views on different issues,” said Lily Kong, vice president of university and global relations for the National University of Singapore, in an e-mailed statement. “We believe that this discussion should lead to an even higher level of mutual understanding and respect, ultimately making the college even more robust.”

More than 140 Yale professors as well as university President Richard Levin attended a March 1 meeting during which faculty members proposed a resolution that demands the NUS campus “respect, protect and further the ideals of civil liberties,” said Victor Bers, a classic professor at the New Haven, Connecticut-based school.

The resolution may be voted on at an April 5 faculty meeting, Bers said.

Singapore’s government censors the media and uses the courts to silence criticism of the regime, according to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group. Last year, Levin said he was confident that Yale’s faculty in Singapore could teach and publish without restrictions.

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