Why are Singapore’s single undergrads not dating?
In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. To be taken with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he talks about how to solve the woes of single undergrads.
In a survey of some 400 local undergraduates recently, six in 10 revealed they were not in a relationship.
Out of this group of singles, seven in 10 had no plans to actively get into one.
So what dissuades them from settling down? Making money and having a career.
But can we really blame the undergrads for being materialistic, myopic and carefree? Let's find out.
Role of educators
One main reason undergrads shun relationships now is because they don't get enough practice when they were growing up.
While completing primary school all the way to junior college, students have consistently been discouraged from getting attached.
How? One way is by exposing these impressionable students to gory images of sexually-transmitted diseases during health education.
As if that was not enough, teachers and discipline heads even go as far as snitch on their students. Parents are warned about their children's indiscretions, such as holding hands in public.
Relationship matters are always placed on a pedestal. Experimenting with courtship is frowned upon. Sex is a taboo topic.
And when it comes to crunch time, we wonder why undergraduates are so bad at it.
Give them a break.
Why focus on undergrads?
Next, why must the focus be on the love lives of undergrads? Why subject them to such scrutiny?
Think about it: even at work, we are taught to frown upon the idea of inter-office relationships between colleagues.
Why should universities be the exception?
What's worse is the notion that the Social Development Network assumes it can undo years of emotional scarring students suffered in school.
Moreover, cajoling people to get together for the sole purpose of procreation under the auspices of the state is outright weird.
There's something very pervy about this whole enterprise.
Not dating is only half the story
However, not dating and not hooking up are actually vastly different things.
Quite a number of undergrads do in fact have sex lives far more active than Michael Palmer's. That's what campus residences are for.
Trust me, students might even find it hard to be truthful with the person conducting the survey because he or she might be having feelings for the lecturer instead of a fellow student.
It's clear people are getting together for flings, but finding it hard to commit.
So what can we do to encourage marriage?
Simple. Change HDB public housing policy to get rid of the rule that only singles aged 35 years old and above can buy an HDB flat.
The only reason undergrads, or anyone else for that matter, don’t want to settle down is because they need to get married in order to buy a flat. They are now seeing this as a trap.
Therefore, singles – regardless of age or education status – should be given subsidies to afford a place they can call their own. This is the equivalent of giving them a spine.
They will feel less insecure about their lot in life because they will no longer be staying with their parents.
This will improve the quality and quantity of dates. Marriages will go up. The Total Fertility Rate will go through the roof. There's a greater incentive to advance one's career and make more money. A piece of property will keep people grounded. Singaporeans will be prosperous again.
Belmont Lay is the editor of New Nation, an online publication that is trying to get HDB to change its housing policy.