The Blue and Gold

Issue 0

Bullion of Knowledge, Gears of Time

November 2007

Are We Losing the SMU Culture?
Sentill Ananthan
“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you are going.” And that is why the latest episode of SMUBE’s Campus TV on “SMU Culture” hit me. What exactly is the SMU culture? Or is it too much to expect from an institution which has only be around for seven years? In my opinion, while it takes years for a culture to be established, we very certainly do have a culture at present albeit one that is much evolved from the beginning few years and one that is still rapidly changing. SMU can be likened to young punks blazing a trail of glory in being different and not being just academic-centric. Also it was purportedly an institution of family where everyone knew you and you knew everyone. Nowadays we see in school in a blur of faces as undergraduates are always rushing around. It can be assumed that the campus has a lot to do with the culture. Seniors have commented that back at the Bukit Timah Campus, the culture was more about being relaxed and working smart instead of hard and much more like a laid back campus lifestyle. But at this city campus, the culture has shifted towards a mugger-culture. It is a mad rat race in a bid to outdo each other when we actually should be enjoying and learning the actual process of it all. I have been to the Bukit Timah Campus, and I fell in love with the place, not because of the beauty of being in Orchard without being in Orchard, but more so from the bond and camaraderie amongst the students there, which one could experience in less than a day. Where has the spirit of SMU gone? Or did we even have one? I had expected and believed that SMU would be a place we could call our own but this has sadly been missing. I recall the first few advertising campaigns of SMU promoting the diversity, the vibrancy of the place more than anything else. It was about how different our students were. Now it is all about how many straight A students we have in our intake and how well-paid our graduates are and I would have to say that a lot of our difference in culture is down to the very aggressive and successful marketing campaign to attract the top students. This is because SMU is advertised as the institution for all-rounders and all-rounded wannabes. Each year our freshmen, who get the coveted place in SMU, get the impression that it is absolutely vital to do anything and everything to bulk up their resume. Remember, it is us who give the freshmen the impression and the image and it us who choose to conform to the herd. Is this what SMU is about?

A student shares his thoughts

It could be said that SMU could be a victim of her own success. As SMU grew and evolved to become a place that is very desirable for students to pursue their tertiary education, it is only natural for an influx of the “traditional” high-flying students. By that term, I mean the students who are in the top percentile of their JC and Polytechnic batches, and with them you are bound to see a change in the culture. The never-ending race A significant number would not see the other side of SMU or that grades and academic results are not everything, they would bring with them their culture complete with flawless score sheets. The most disappointing thing is that as we bring in the best Singapore has to offer we may end up losing more of our vibrancy and freshness - something that is more than just the academic spectre. The workload in our school is astounding. A simple comparison with friends in the other two universities strengthens this fact weekly readings, class participation, projects, presentations and write-ups are all part of the equation. Put all of that together with the bell curve and you get a cut-throat system, in which you must work hard all the way from start to finish, every second of class to get ahead. At the same time, the bell-curve so discourages one from helping another. Much of this could be attributed of the Singapore system, in which we always desire to be the top. Are we all becoming mere slaves to this never-ending race? Let’s look at ourselves and see what we want. Ultimately we are responsible for our own actions - not our parents, not our institution and not our friends.

Issue 0,Page II

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

From The Blue and Gold Exco

The Birth of the New Voice
The launch of The Blue and Gold
Dear Friends, As we cross over into the second half of the term and prepare for our finals, a whole different set of surprises await us; from internship offers and exchange programme acceptances, to competition winners and even mid-term results. This campus publication, too, is a deviation from school magazines that we have come to know over the past six years. Why the change? Early this semester, the newly appointed members of the Vié Exco, together with key officers of SMUSA reflected on the relevance of the magazine to its readers. Is the publication indicative of the level of sophistication of undergraduates? Are students intellectually challenged by its content? Is the material adequately representative of what SMU undergraduates had to offer? The answer for all of the above questions was a resounding ‘no’. Moreover, the concept of a publication that was meant to cater to the ‘SMU community’ was tremendously skewed toward the undergraduate population. In doing so, several key units of the school are omitted from this classification – the professors, visitors, prospective students and support staff. And with that in mind, The Blue and Gold was born. As you browse through your copy of this brand new publication, many unfamiliar columns may raise more than just a few eyebrows. However, every idea that has been included in The Blue and Gold has been carefully planned and developed in a manner to maximise our intellectual resource, as well as capitalise on the contributions of our academics. Our front page will feature the latest happenings in school with an impact on all of us. We may not have been in existence to cover the unveiling of the School of Law or SMUve, but we certainly will be around for new developments in SMU. The sections to this newspaper have been extensively planned as well. School news is a segment which focuses on the goings-on in any of the schools. However, if you want to find out who the new Queen of the ASOC bash is, you may be sorely disappointed – this column is meant to draw attention to new offerings in Majors, collaborations between the school and prominent external organisations, and even cross-college activities and academic programmes. What’s Up @ SMU features a variety of informative articles. Some serve as discussion points while others could very well be a news snippet that’s happening in the class right next to yours. We have also chosen to devote a section to showcase the work of our professors outside of the classroom. You’ll be interested to find in Higher Learning the many research projects and external affiliations our academics have that truly make them an asset to the school. SMUdge gives you a rundown on school activities, past and present. Many of the students who matriculated after 2005 are involved in the organization and execution of these events, such as Freshman Orientation and Sports Fiesta, and it would be a great oversight to ignore their efforts, or the success of the events. The Bulletin Board is perhaps by far the proudest of our contributions to The Blue and Gold. The six faculties in SMU may point to a myriad of ideologies, but underlying news binds all the units of our management university intrinsically. Furthermore, how often do we hear of buzz-words in the news whose concept we have absolutely no clue about; words that could very well pop up in class discussion? This section gives you the low-down on matters that have been making the globe spin, and more: professors specialising in those areas have also generously agreed to share their opinions and expertise with you. Bonuses like these do not come that fortuitously, and we strongly urge everyone to take advantage of this. Additionally, there are columns that serve as a supplement to regular reading material such as The Business Times or The Economist. We will attempt to feature additional resources spanning all fields of study – from Political Science to Portfolio Management, Statistics to Strategy, and Marketing to Music: East and West – so that the masses will benefit from multiple reading recommendations. No chick lit here, we promise. We’ve also introduced a segment on photojournalism because sometimes, great ideas (and embarrassing moments) are best conveyed through a picture. So there you have it – our very first issue of The Blue and Gold. And in order to improve, we need your help. Drop us your news nuggets, feedback or even opinions on school-related affairs at our email, There are many avenues for exploration that we have yet to touch on, and it will be most unfortunate to miss out on the great ideas that you may have for subsequent issues. In the meantime, thank you for picking up this copy of The Blue and Gold, and on behalf of the Exco, we hope you enjoy this read as a first of many more to come. Best Regards, Alicia Ng Managing Director The Blue and Gold

The Blue and Gold
MANAGING DIRECTOR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITORS MARKETING DIRECTOR ART DIRECTORS LOGISTICS DIRECTOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alicia Ng Sue Yee Ephraim Loy Suan Je Anirban Datta Gupta Uday Rao Cheong En Min Michael Ng Wai Ting Oh Zhen Yang Aaron Lee Cher Han Sentil Anathan Jeremy Wang Alexis Eu Debbie Lam David Lau

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What’s Up @ SMU

Issue 0,Page III

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

Jeremy Wang

Demand for foreign language classes shoots sky high
Rajan Rishyakaran,a second-year Economics student feels that he would learn more by learning the language outside of school, and that it is worth the extra money spent if he is spending an entire term overseas. But picking up another language isn’t just for exchange students. With more and more MNCs to choose from in the job marketplace, it’s quite likely that you’ll be closing a deal in Japan one week and meeting German clients the next. The inter-connectivity of the world is such that sticking to English may get the job done, but it won’t do anything for your network of business contacts. The Government seems to recognise this.

Wanderlust Brought Down To Earth

Presently, SMU has 136 overseas exchange agreements with universities from all over the world. Many of these partnerships are in countries where English is not the primary language of communication, such as Spain and Japan. This has never proven to be a barrier, with an increasing number of SMU undergraduates embarking on these exchanges each term. Despite the growing popularity of overseas study, a disturbing fact is that the university doesn’t seem to offer enough language classes to support this trend. This term, the only European languages on offer are Italian and Spanish.

Sentill Ananthan

A detailed journal of a journey to the East
As preparatory work for this exciting foray into the rapidly-developing Middle East, students are required to attend a series of core seminars which introduce to the myriad of theoretical concepts and ideologies which are prevalent in the UAE and Bahrain in a bid to facilitate a speedy understanding on the critical success factors behind the region’s accelerated development. Distinguished guests from different industries in the region will also drop by the university to deliver speeches and hold dialogues with students on the various key elements in ensuring business prosperity in the Middle East and share personal

Business Study Missions head to the Middle East

Many a time, we hear of students embarking on Business Study Missions (BSMs) to various destinations - from the common to the exotic. But how many of us actually comprehend the sheer enormity of the entire journey of a BSM? BSMs are modules unique to SMU in the sense that it gives every undergraduate an opportunity to meet and mingle with business delegates and dignitaries in the different countries on a business platform.

Language courses are gernally hot in demand with minimum bids soaring as high as 70 e-dollars in BOSS 1 alone

Japanese, a traditionally popular course at SMU, is offered as only one session instead of two. On top of all that, despite the Middle East being the new hotspot for exchange opportunities, the school doesn’t even offer any courses in the relevant languages. Language courses are generally in hot demand with minimum bids soaring as high as 70 e-dollars in BOSS 1 alone. And as long as I’ve been here, demand for these courses has never wavered. The question we ought to be asking is why the school is not forthcoming in offering support for those who wish to embrace the available opportunities to go overseas but lack the fundamental language skills. If you’re going on exchange and the language you need to learn is not offered in school, the alternatives are costly. A comparable language course conducted by a commercial centre can easily set you back by a couple of hundred dollars – no small sum for someone who’s already spending thousands on an exchange programme. Surely, one can take the self-study route and pick up a dictionary at Booklink but it’s a lot more effort for fewer gains. You probably wouldn’t even learn enough to get by in a foreign land anyway. However for some, it doesn’t matter whether the language is offered in SMU or not.

In his National Day Rally speech this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasised the need to address language skills in schools, particularly Malay.

This overseas field trip is the highlight of our BSM module which is a potent mixture of intensive seminars, workshops, networking sessions and guest speaker appearances
experiences and anecdotes.

Also, the Ministry of Education’s Language Centre is making plans to offer Arabic as a third language next year. It’s not just like an outcry to demand that the administration give in to every whim and fancy of students. If we had our way all modules would have either a pass or fail and there would be modules on card sharking and pool hustling. But it is only fair that if the school’s ultimate aim is for every other student to undergo at least one overseas experience, then more should be done to equip students with the necessary survival tools, like a rudimentary understanding of the language. Furthermore, there are some modules, in comparison to language classes and other GE (Arts) modules, that do not enjoy as much popularity. Perhaps the powers-that-be should consider re-examining the courses on offer - they are likely to find one or two courses that no one really gives a hoot about (compulsory courses nonwithstanding, of course). We’re all set to head out into the brave new world. We’ve been packaged nicely into our skirts and suits. We’ve been encouraged to speak up and be heard. But what good is all that if we’re labeled “For English-speaking Regions Only”?

It gives students valuable insight into how the business culture works in a particular country and how we can learn from others. “It should prove to be a fun, educational and thought-provoking cultural exchange,” quips Roshni Prabhu, a fourth-year business student, when asked why she would go for a BSM. Leveraging on a successful initial foray by Professor Caroline Yeoh and her team last April with BSM Middle East, the second team has begun their preparations for their trip in April 2008. This overseas field trip is the highlight of our BSM module which is a potent mixture of intensive seminars, workshops, networking sessions and guest speaker appearances. The eight-day long programme, which has been put together from the experiences and networking done by the inaugural batch, includes meetings and networking dinners with UAE government officials and diplomats, site visits to very reputable real-estate establishments and major development projects.

The major goal is to arm students with a practical understanding of the situation.

As part of the course requirement, students are expected to do two projects to enhance of educational journey. In the first project, groups would be expected to analyse socio-cultural settings and economic conditions in UAE and Bahrain – both successful business models - or look into aspects of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial opportunities. The objective is to make the students aware of the diverse nature of the two countries and impress upon them the wealth of business and employment opportunities in Bahrain and UAE. A major project will focus on the internationalisation of Singapore companies into UAE and Bahrain with the teams being expected to analyse the implications of contextual knowledge on the actual practice of business.

Issue 0,Page IV

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

What’s Up @ SMU

MTV ups cool factor in research tie-up
Ephraim Loy


Learning about research in the real world

Student-industry collaborations have just been upped in the cool factor. Studying youth behaviour in creating, sharing and consuming digital content are what a group of 30 students are doing in a project for MTV Networks Asia – by no means a leader in creative and intriguing content.

And the top teams with the best insights get cool prizes too. Members from the winning teams will each be given invites to the MTV Asia Awards in Singapore next year. The element of having real-life clients is not new. It is the third time a real-life client is roped in according to Prof Chong. Clients are carefully picked on the basis of their willingness and deep interest in the learning development of SMU students. The findings from all teams will be brought in-house and shared with all internal stakeholders said Mr Nas Kassim, Media Planning Manager, MTV Networks Asia. “Elements that fit MTV’s overall strategy moving forward, and are realistically actionable, will be adapted accordingly. “We would like the findings to give us a clearer indication of the current and future digital landscape as well as how we can best take advantage of it.” Sailing takes a splash The 10th Western Circuit Sailing Regatta set sail over three weekends in August. Some 50 boats competed in Singapore’s largest keelboat sailing regatta with waves of fun as SMU undergraduates injected vibrancy and enthusiasm in the first-ever collaboration with Raffles Marina. A Memorandum of Agreement was also signed between Raffles Marina and SMU. This will allow the SMU Sailing Club use of Raffles Marina’s boats and clubhouse facilities to promote a sailing culture within the SMU community through the SMU S.A.I.L programme and training.

Mr Nas Kassim, Media Manager, MTV Networks Asia


I wanted communication research to come alive for my students, and there is no better way to do that than pair them with a committed client who gives them a real-life problem to solve. -Practice Assistant Professor Mark Chong

They will be discovering how Chinese, Indian and Singaporean youth relate to social media content using various research methods – as fulfillment of their Foundations in Communication Research course. Practice Assistant Professor Mark Chong wanted to bring a new dimension into the classroom through such a partnership. “I wanted communication research to come alive for my students, and there is no better way to do that than pair them with a committed client who gives them a real-life problem to solve.” Said Lim Zhimin, a third-year business student: “It is interesting and gives an insight about what it is like to do research in the real world.” “Field work is more interesting,” added his team mate Jonathan Wong, a third-year Business student.

On the other hand, another group are dealing with a different pack of cards – research on what global warming means to youth in Singapore using visual ethnography. Findings from this group could help Chevron develop insight-based communication that brings about important behavioral changes. The ultimate aim is for the students to appreciate the excitement and usefulness of qualitative research. “I hope the experience will give them a more intimate understanding of the crucial role research can play in strategic decision making.” Learning beyond the classroom has always been a key focus and through these projects, both Chevron and MTV show their belief that SMU student researchers can help discover valuable insights into youth-related issues.

An exciting new start SMU welcomed its first batch of 117 law students during Convocation 2007. Held on 18 August 2007, some 1,550 undergraduates were admitted this year. At the ceremony, some 200 scholarships were given out including the newly introduced SMU Study Award.

What’s Up @ SMU

Issue 0,Page V

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

Snippets of SMU student life

The Viability of Student Leadership In it just for the fame and glory?
Alexis Eu
Student leadership, a topic that is close to our hearts, is a double-edged sword. Apart from the ad-hoc events like Convocation, Patron’s Day and the yearly sporting hits another area that students can hone their leadership skills lies in clubs and societies. However, increasingly, the practicality of student leadership has been thrown into question, with many having doubts as to whether student leadership is able to achieve what it purports to. Clubs and societies in SMU are organised and managed by student leaders, who have generally landed themselves in these But apart from that, the crux of the issue is the underlying issue of the purpose of being a student leader in a club. Another ex-student leader, however, who declined to be named, commented that there are many student leaders “who step up to the positions simply because they want something that will look good on their resumes, but once they land the positions, they are lacklustre towards their responsibilities”. Concerned with whether this observation was true, I asked other students if they were satisfied with their student leaders or if they felt that their student leaders had personal hidden agendas and did not contribute enough towards their responsibilities. General consensus points towards the view

Peace for Myanmar SMU’s Myanmar student community garnered support and created awareness of the violence against protests in Myanmar by distributing red ribbons, armbands and flyers amongst their peers. A peace pillar, initially designed to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, was modified to convey their thoughts about those who lost their lives in the recent protests.

Ultimately, student leadership is only viable to the extent that the student is motivated and committed towards his duties and responsibilities to the club.

positions through elections by the other members. Once in these positions, they are expected to develop their leadership skills and grow into figures capable of leading the clubs into better directions. The roles of the student leaders differ across the various clubs and societies. Generally, they are expected to organise the club activities and make decisions that will enable to club to grow in its desired direction. In some clubs, especially sports groups, student leaders have the extra privilege of being sent for specialty courses that are relevant to their CCA. Becoming a student leader is also a designation that allows one to beef up his resume. Consequently, it is obvious that student leaders are being put in a position of great responsibility and privilege. Mr Calvin Thng, who recently stepped down as Chairman of the SMU Climbing Club, maintains that during his tenure, he has “been able to develop leadership skills and is proud of what he has achieved with the club”. From personal experience, he is convinced that student leadership is a good avenue for students to become more involved in the school community, and also allows them to develop management skills which they otherwise would not have.

that such uncommitted leaders certainly do exist, but are unlikely to be re-elected once the club members become aware of their incompetence. Ultimately, student leadership is only viable to the extent that the student is motivated and committed towards his duties and responsibilities to the club. While an enthusiastic and committed student leader will take appropriate actions necessary to advance the direction of his club and realise his leadership potential along the way, there have been cases of abuses where uncommitted student leaders have been elected. Even though this inadequacy will eventually be found out, this adds an additional roadblock to the progression of the club. So while it seems that student leadership is viable and should be encouraged, members should be careful and exercise more critical judgement when electing their leaders in order to minimise the cases of abuses. Editor’s note: I once overheard a conversation in the library where some students wanted to get into leadership positions for the prestige and the direct access to people in the various school offices to get an edge over students. Surprisingly, the student mentioned being able to receive special treatment from staff in offices in SMU with regard to exchange programmes and the like.

Hey Gorgeous! It was a celeb-filled day as MediaCorp’s Hey Gorgeous crew made its routine visit to SMU. Apart from checking out the good-looking guys and pretty babes, the afternoon was topped with a showcase of SMU contestants and their talents. Oh Jin Rui and Wu Jia Hui emerged tops and will represent SMU in the finals in November.

Issue 0,Page VI

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

What’s Up @ SMU

Singapore announces plans for a fourth university
Ephraim Loy
When plans for the fourth state-funded university were announced during the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally this year, I felt excited for students who have yet to enter their undergraduate phase of study. For them, this would mean more choices as a newly formed government panel sets out to examine a new university model for Singapore. A tech university, liberal arts college and specialised-degree institution are some of the possibilities. One could read the forum pages of local papers to have an indication of the demand for another state-funded university. From what has been written to date, signs seem to show that there is indeed a demand for university places. Top scorers are unable to enter into their course of choice and head overseas. This begs the question whether the one true solution is to increase the number of local university places. At a time where spirits have been dampened by the pull out of UNSW from Singapore because of the lack of foresight, it worries me if a scenario of such magnitude would plague us once again should the sums on the demand be over-predicted. Enrolment figures in local universities have showed an increasing trend over the years. With an enrolment of just 29,855 in 1996,

What sets SMU apart?

There have been cases where university graduates found it difficult to get employed. More graduates landing in the workforce may not be much of a good thing then. But should the increased competition be a source of worry for SMU students then? What currently sets SMU apart from the other institutions is not its broad-based learning since other local universities also allow diversification in the choice of modules and degree choices. In terms of our curriculum,class participation, a pedagogy that SMU preaches, has received brickbats from students on exchange from local institutions.

Citing the “no action talk only” mentality, they say that SMU students are good at talking shop and do pretty well at that too. But on the contrary, employers add that SMU graduates are articulate, can present themselves very well and are good communicators. Perhaps another difference not related to curriculum is SMU’s strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility and community service. But the main draw would still be the city campus lifestyle that is uniquely SMU. Unless of course the fourth state-funded university finds its humble abode in the heart of the city.

What currently sets SMU apart from the other institutions is not its broad-based learning since other local universities also allow diversification in the choice of modules and degree choices.

the number has snowballed to 46,479 in the last 10 years (an increase of 55%). And the figures are set to swell by an additional 2,000 places a year say the government. Further, graduation rates in 2006 hit a high note of 10,428 in the last year – with an

average of 10,027 over the last six years.

A source of concern then would be whether this supply would likely to meet demands of a growing economy. If it does, well and good, but should there be an oversupply, competition for jobs among graduates gets intense.

No Water By David Lau

What’s Up @ SMU

Issue 0,Page VII

The Blue and Gold

SMU’s Centre for Counseling & Guidance
Alicia Ng
Since its inception in 2006, SMU’s Centre for Counseling & Guidance (CCG) has been a modest department with minimal publicity to its name. This is all about to change. This semester, the CCG is stepping out to actively market its services to the SMU community. Why now? The counselors at the Centre, Mr Timothy Hsi and Ms Kuek Poh Tian observe the growing trend of students who approach the Centre for help. Says Ms Kuek, “Many students have the preconceived notion that counseling services are strictly for people with serious emotional issues, but that is hardly the case.” Most of the cases she oversees revolve around academic issues, adjustment issues and relationship pitfalls. Academic struggles can arise from a variety of sources. Final-year accountancy student Alexis Eu points out that some courses have too many projects. Moreover, in an attempt for students to express their ideas freely, “some lecturers are not clear with instructions and expectations for projects… and this inevitably causes more stress for us.” It may be her last semester in school, but the workload does not show any signs of easing up. And there are other reasons for studiesrelated troubles too. For instance, courses that require intensive reading and qualitative analyses such as Business Law may come easier for local students. Unfortunately for some of the foreign undergraduates, grasping the nature of the subject is twice the challenge since English is not their first language. Expectations to out-perform one’s peers also impose negative pressure on students.

November 2007

Get in sync with your life today

Eric Tan, a third-year information systems student, is feeling the competition. “Everyone around me is too caught up with getting A’s, and even working on a project with them is not easy. “Just take a look around the campus and you will know what I mean,” he adds. This is one of the key areas that the CCG targets – how to strike a healthy balance between academic demands and personal interests. One important point brought up was that counselors are trained not to give advice. Clients have to learn how to take ownership of their issues while the counselors are there to help the clients help themselves. Sometimes, students may feel comfortable talking to their peers. more

What if the issues are beyond the scope of the SMU Peer Helpers to handle? With the permission of the student, the case is referred to either one of the counselors at CCG. There have also been referrals to professional medical practitioners and other professionals in the helping profession who have had more expertise with respect to particular issues (with client’s permission), but such occurrences are quite rare. Adjustment problems also arise frequently in the cases they have seen. While it used to be more prevalent among international students, the CCG has seen a number of local students who have difficulties in making the transition from junior college or polytechnic to varsity culture. Additionally, not many realise the challenges involved in making the change from teenhood to early adult years. As with all counseling cases, the strictest of confidentiality is maintained in accordance with the code of ethics of the Singapore Association for Counseling. So what are the aims of the CCG, and how can the rest of SMU benefit from these services? “The goal is to create a network of support within SMU community, beginning with the SMU Peer Helpers. “From there, the support keeps growing as we get more people engaged in what we do,” explains Mr Hsi. And the network is growing. Every term, about 70 undergraduates take module MGMT226 – a course that is designed to inculcate skills such as active listening and facilitation. The number of SMU Peer Helpers has increased to 60 this year, and the CCG also provides referrals to other departments such as the Centre for Student Financial Assistance and the Office of Career Services (OCS) who are better equipped to handle cases on Financial Assistance and Career Counseling. Is this enough to rid the stereotype of counseling, or should the CCG try something else instead? Let us know – send your opinions in to

This is when you may like to approach the SMU Peer Helpers at the SMU Wellness Centre. The SMU Peer Helpers are trained in basic counseling skills and understand the importance of confidentiality.

Issue 0,Page VIII

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

Higher Learning

UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance
Debbie Lam

Understanding how students learn
Alicia Ng

Real world, real consequences

If you have been checking your emails, you must recognise the term “UOB-SMU”. For those of you looking for an internship or looking for a job you can take on during the school term, turn your attention to the UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance. The Alliance offers very challenging and interesting job scopes, giving interns real experiences as student consultants to companies in the areas of market research, human resources, business planning and others. This SME consulting programme offers SMU students hands-on experiences working with local small and medium enterprises (SMEs). While business projects mandated by SMEs are undertaken by SMU teams, they are managed very much independently as each team is guided by a project adviser who is either a faculty member of SMU or an affiliate of the Alliance.

Projects are available throughout the year, during school term and vacation. Students are selected based on their majors and priority will be given to Year 3 and 4 students who would have completed some courses of their majors by then. These projects are funded by the Alliance and each approved project will receive a subsidy of up to 90% of the cost of the project. The SME is only required to fork out 10% 30% of the total bill. These projects are embedded in the real world, and are real in their consequences. With a basic salary of about $500 per month, and a possible incentive bonus of $200, the programme far from shortchanges you, and may even be a much better internship ‘deal’ than others. Apart from the real experience that the UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance has to offer, it is one of the best places to get your hands dirty while learning.

An offering from TE@CTL

Many of us know her as the bubbly professor for Introductory Economics. But aside from her classes every semester, one may be pleasantly surprised to find out that she is also the Co-Director of the Centre for Teaching & Learning (CTL) right here in SMU. Practice Assistant Professor Tan Swee Liang kindly agreed to share what she has been working on over the summer. The Teaching Excellence unit at the CTL, or the TE@CTL, has acquired a learningprofile tool called VARK, which is an acronym for four basic modes of learning: Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic. Consisting of a simple questionnaire, this profiling tool is particularly advantageous for students to properly identify their learning preference, in addition to understanding more of other learning strategies. For instance, a student who takes in information through observation (i.e. Visual) as opposed to listening (i.e. Aural) will find it more useful to learn from visual aids such as graphs or pictorial explanations. Furthermore, he is able to identify the areas of improvement in learning modes, and then compensate for the ‘weakness’ through a variety of ways – through engaging in group discussions outside of class, or even preparing self-made notes. Similarly, kinesthetic students will enjoy interactive class activities such as role-play more so than a student who is more receptive to reading and writing instead. In fact, individuals could possibly have more than one preferred learning mode. Does being multi-modal or uni-modal impact the learning process? There has been little evidence to suggest the implications of having more than one learning preference, especially since VARK is structured to assist users in finding a balance across all learning modes. However, it is noted that males tend to be more kinesthetic whereas females prefer reading and writing. Prof. Tan emphasizes the usefulness of the tool because of the independent role students play in determining their ideal learning style. Furthermore, knowing one’s preferred

learning approach would suggest that students can take a structured initiative in preparing for classes and engaging in independent self-study. This indirectly makes class discussion more productive, hence further suggesting that the role of educators is to “provide the scaffold for students to learn proactively.” Together with her colleague, Ms Lee Siang Hwee, Manager for TE@CTL, and assistance from CIT, they have spent the past few months working in stages to get VARK technically operational for the students. Students are invited to try out the application on OASIS. As a separate questionnaire must be completed per module, this software also helps to segregate responses by class, hence allowing professors to observe the predominant learning style of their students. If you would like to try VARK, visit http:// and click on the link to the VARK tool on OASIS. For more information on VARK, please visit the official website for VARK at http://www. The Teaching Excellence unit at the CTL, or the TE@CTL, oversees a variety of programmes that are aimed at enhancing teaching effectiveness. Some of the services that the TE@CTL provides include a support network for faculty, and projects targeted at improving the standards of bringing about teaching excellence at in SMU. The TE@CTL also provides consultation services in videotaping of classes and observation of protocols, student evaluation of teaching, focus groups and understanding how students learn (of which the VARK tool can be found) In addition, the TE@CTL administers the SMU Annual Teaching Excellence Awards for the categories of Most Inspiring Teacher, Most Innovative Teacher, Most Promising Teacher and Most Outstanding Adjunct. More information on the TE@CTL can be found on their website at http://www.

Types of assistance provided by the SMU Student Consultant teams: Business planning Market research Evaluation of business opportunities Organisation climate analysis Business research Industry studies International business research

Interested parties may contact the Alliance at The UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance Centre is located at #B1-33, Concourse Level, School of Accountancy/School of Law. Special thanks to Prof. Ang Ser Keng for assisting in this article.

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Issue 0,Page IX

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

Sub-prime: What is it and what you should know
Alicia Ng
‘Sub-prime’ has been the new buzzword rocking the financial markets of late. Financial downturns in the US were the result of high-risk loans by banks to customers. Normally, this would not be a precursor for a market crunch, unless the borrowers did not have good credit. This was particularly prevalent across mortgage lending practices in America. An overwhelming default rate ensued, and the sub-prime mortgage lending crisis threatens a market recession. As a result, major banks such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase started to borrow from the US Federal Reserve, or the Fed. That wasn’t enough to keep things afloat. Up to now, numerous financial institutions are experiencing major losses in the third quarter, with many firms firing staff and closing down specific operating units. Bank of America registered a 32% decline in earnings and Merrill Lynch has written down approximately $8 billion in mortgagebacked securities. This has led to Stan O’Neal stepping down from his position as CEO and Chairman. The US isn’t just the only ones exposed to this crisis. In September, Northern Rock, the 5th largest mortgage-lender in Britain, had to be rescued by the Bank of England. Worried customers surged to its branches and an estimated £1 billion worth of withdrawals was made in one day. More recently, the Chairman of Northern Rock has also stepped down. Investment firms have also laid off employees and, as in the case of Lehman Brothers, closed off its sub-prime unit BNC Mortgage LLC, laying off in excess of 1,000 employees and absorbing more than US$50 million in charges. Furthermore, plunging stock indices and a decline in consumer confidence has caused price inflation. What has been done to alleviate these economic conditions? tThe Fed has reduced key lending rates by 0.5% to 4.75% on 18 September. This was followed by another quarter percent cut to 4.5% on 31 October. Whatever the case, financial institutions alike are resorting to alternative measures to hedge again impending declines. For now, Asia may be the safe haven from sub-prime scares. Or are we? Nomura Bank, one of Japan’s largest banks, has taken a loss of $621 million on write – downs of residential mortgages. Furthermore, the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the declining US dollar. Throw in the cut rate by the Fed, and while American markets become rosy (for a while), this threatens expansionary consequences for Hong Kong. On the flipside, Asia may be what the rest of the world needs in this fledgling market. Prominent US securities firm, Bear Stearns, was hit hardest with a reduced third quarter net income and the collapse of two hedge funds controlled by its fund management unit. One factor contributing to its higher exposure to the sub-prime turbulence was its predominant presence in the US. It has sought to Asia to resurrect its business prowess. Recently Bear Sterns struck a landmark deal with China’s largest listed brokerage, Citic Securities. Both the companies have decided to invest $1 billion in each other as part of a strategic alliance that will also set up an Asian investment banking joint venture. With Asia being the interest of many investors, it may be the ideal tonic for the sub prime mess in terms of an alternative venue for investments. Due to constant re-packaging and selling of mortgage backed securities, it is actually difficult to pin down how big the sub-prime problem is. It makes it equally difficult for banks to measure their financial involvement. No doubt, many banks have written down losses due to the sub prime fiasco, we are seeing same banks booking further losses or even bigger losses than the public expected.

Minority Rising: Is America ready?
Uday Rao
As of 20 October, Bobby Jindal was voted to become the next Governor elect of Louisiana. There are quite a few special achievements that have come along with this election. Bobby Jindal is the youngest Governor elect at the age of 36. More importantly he has achieved to become the first Asian American in modern era to hold the title of Governor elect especially in the Southern State of Louisiana, which is deemed to be very conservative. Born in America, son to Indian Immigrants Bobby Jindal studied at Brown University majoring in Biology and Public Policy. After graduating he persuaded further studies at Oxford in the field of Political Science as a Rhodes Scholar. He went on to work later on at Mckinsey & Company. The rise of Bobby Jindal from relative obscurity to become Republic Governor elect of Louisiana is the first of the wave of Individuals with Asian roots that will be ever present in the American Political scene. This is a big and brave frontier that America must embrace with acceptance. It is a known fact that for the past two decades, Asian Americans have been the beacon of academic success at all levels of education. This has led to some negative tactics taken by some universities. As reported in articles, it was mentioned that UC Berkley employ a higher admission requirement level for Asian Americans. No doubt UC Berkley is an individual case of high profile, would we see the same reception towards Asian American politicians? The general consensus is that America is a land made up of immigrants and there wouldn’t be such a severe racial backlash as such. Furthermore, non-whites have taken up many key posts with no reported racial issues – most notably Col Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa who is the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles. Many would even state that having more Asian Americans, Hispanics and Blacks as part of the political make up would improve political relationships with many countries especially with the rise to dominance of Asia and emergence of Latin America and Africa. Politicians of the above mentioned backgrounds would find common linkages in multiple areas and would have an accurate understanding of its fellow delegates. It sounds like a better proposition than having the good ol’ American steamrolleresque attitude, which we all are exposed to.

The lowdown on the recent banking crisis Why you should know who Bobby Jindal is



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Issue 0,Page X

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

Bulletin Board

The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.
Uday Rao

A definite read in the long line of investment banking books available
The book goes on to describe the mystique and reputation of the “Great Men” who worked there. These “Great Men” made unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsised influence in the halls of power. William D. Cohan, takes the reader into the mysterious and secretive world of Lazard and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company. Cohan reenacts with great detail the explosive feuds between Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, superstar investment bankers and between the men who controlled Lazard, For those budding Investment Bankers among us, this is a must read book that

The Last Tycoons by William D Cohan is an insightful look into the world of investment banking titans Lazard. Converted from a dry goods store to private partnership to a diversified, publicly traded company in 2005, it was the last great American investment bank to do so. Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year and pay their executives in the millions of dollars. But even among the most respectable firms, Lazard. stood in a class apart from the rest. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice.

will immerse you into one of the titans of investment banking. The Last Tycoons is a tale of vaulting ambitions, whispered advice, worldly mistresses, fabulous art collections, and enormous wealth - a story of high drama in the world of high finance. The Last Tycoons is the winner of the 2007 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.


Issue 0,Page XI

The Blue and Gold
November 2007

An Eventful Term So Far
Anirban Datta Gupta files this report on the events that celebrate the spirit and culture of SMU
Street Soccer, Floor Ball, a new variation of Frisbee and Volleyball. An Inter-CCA Jousting Competition and other peripheral events such as rodeo bull were some of the attractions as well. It captured the vibrancy and essence of student life in SMU, as everyone had a great time, played hard, and definitely managed to make school their playground. International Peace Day The UN designated International Day of Peace on 21 September was recognised by the SMU community with great nobility and spirit. The event was inaugurated by of the customary Peace Ceremony, where international students recited the peace pledge in their respective native languages, and by observing a one-minute silence for those who are in the midst of turmoil throughout the world. This year, a benevolent gesture on the part of the SMU community was a 24-hour fast for world peace, which culminated on Peace Day. “Is Peace in Singapore blinding us to Social Injustice?” was the title of a forum conducted after the breaking of the fast, with distinguished panelists including famous proponent of anti-slavery, Bridget Lew, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and Worker’s Party Chairman Sylvia Lim and prominent blogger Mr Brown. The discussion revolved around important issues such as human rights and equality in the aftermath of tumultuous times. Wrapping up the series of events was the screening of Feet Unbound, the work of local filmmaker Ng Khee Jin.

As the term draws to a close and as project submission deadlines and presentations loom over our heads, let’s take a moment to take a look back at the plethora of events that have happened this term. Freshman Team Building Camp This event, which serves as an introduction to SMU life, was bigger than ever this year. 1400 freshmen were divided into four runs, with the runs being conducted within the period of end July to mid August. The camp was held amidst the sun and sand of Outward Bound East Coast. There were many team-based events throughout the 3-day, 2-night camp which emphasised the SMU CIRCLE values Commitment, Integrity, Responsibility, Collegiality, Leadership and Excellence.

For those who were new to this country, this was a perfect way to get initiated into the culture here. Even though the games were approached with the motive to win, the most important takeaway was the strong friendships that were forged. It was a transition into the new semester and in tune with the facets of student life at SMU. EVE - ACF Nite Conducted by the Arts and Cultural Fraternity (ACF) on 7 September, EVE was an event to commemorate the efforts of ACF members, whose consistent and valuable contributions personify the spirit of the fraternity. This event was a chance for members to intermingle and familiarise themselves with each other, cultivate strong bonds that will help them work together towards the common cause of the fraternity. The venue for this occasion was the scenic Wild Oats bar on Mount Emily. The night featured performances by SMU Chamber Choir, and InDanCity. Sports Fiesta Since its inception in 2005, Sports Fiesta has been a platform for sports enthusiasts and newbies alike to showcase their skills, and compete with each other in the spirit of sports. This annual event conducted by the SMU Sports Union was held on 28 September 2007. This year the organisers positioned Sports Fiesta as a carnival like celebration which allowed SMU students to take a break from their intense workload. Campus Green played host to Dodge Ball,

No description of this year’s peace day would be complete without mentioning the fabulous alteration of ten pillars at the first level of Li Ka Shing library to the now magnificent “Peace Pillars”. Two weeks of hard work by some 60 students resulted in works of art which represented multifarious conceptions of peace, ranging from doves, peace symbols, war posters, bandages, blossoms, and national flags. One cannot take a walk through campus, without stopping to gaze at the powerful beauty of these structures. This year’s Peace Day celebrations definitely struck a chord and made everyone realise that world peace is a paradise we can reach, if we all work together and spread the message of brotherhood.

Issue 0,Page XII

The Blue and Gold

SA’s Message

This year, like every other year, eight students take up the challenge to run for office to serve the student community. Enter the SMU Students’ Association Executive Committee. Well, many a time, we don’t get to see what they do behind the scenes but certainly these help the student community in one way or the other.

Reflecting on the soon-to-be-gone term
This term, the outgoing committee has contributed with their dealings with CIT (improving spam mail control, constantly managing additional bandwidth, printing services) and OFM (providing dusters in GSRs, increasing power points in open areas and benches, in the process of requesting 24/7 air-conditioning). help ensure that the collected revenue will be channeled back into school activities to benefit student life. The committee is also working with the school administration to review the current Student Financial Procedures and to draft Standard Operating Procedures governing fund release (from administration, handover procedures and club and societies’ reserve guidelines) to help facilitate handovers within the student body.

What’s up with the SAC?

November 2007

The SAC has also directed the massive cleanup and major revamp of the CCA room. Do also look out for the “What’s Your Problem Forum” – an initiative during SMUSA week to understand students’ complaints. – EPHRAIM LOY

The Financial Committee has also introduced SMUSA receipts to track the revenues earned by clubs and societies to

The Things We Think About But Do Not Say
It is difficult to be honest with people that I have not met yet. However, I realised that I did not want to belong to a community that I was not ready to be honest with. So, allow me to be honest and to share some of the things that I think about but do not say. I think about the kind of community we should be. It is more fulfilling if we all belong to a bigger picture, a family. I think we can be a tight-knit community with a strong school spirit and camaraderie if we all worked towards it together. We should offer support and friendship, and leave no one behind. I think about a sense of daring to experiment. I remember the sense of adventure that enthused our SMU seniors to get involved in all sorts of different things. I think about us really daring to do things and seeking forgiveness later rather than permission. I think about doing less and doing better. I think that while we should always be optimistic about what we can achieve, we should not condemn ourselves to never achieving enough. I think about being able to talk about anything with anyone in my community. I believe that we need to communicate with one another with honesty and enthusiasm. There should not be any barriers between any SMU student. Such an open culture helps us build spirit.

Thoughts from the SA president

I think about the direction set by the university administration and if it helps our student community. We receive a lot of financial and staff support for our pursuits outside the classroom. However, we have lost many slots within the week, previously allocated for our co-curricular interests, to make-up lessons. Are students becoming more inefficient or is the workload increasing? I think about the kind of experience that I expect to come away with after being part of this community. I think it should not just be about getting a job. We should be learning something about ourselves that we would not be able to learn from anywhere else. I think about how many in our community still think about these things.

I think that while most of us do not talk openly about it, we still care. Most of all, I think of the reasons why I would not talk about these things that I think about and I realised that there were no good reasons why I should not talk about them. So, I hope you talk about them too. Yours Sincerely, Ahmad Firdaus Students’ Association Council

The 4th Student’s Association Council