Our response to the Chronicle article about Marmalade’s name

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Nanyang Chronicle article

We refer to the article published on Issue 23.2 of the Nanyang Chronicle.

The article misrepresents our comments on naming the campus cats. The NTU Cat Management Network holds a central registry of campus cats, maintains it, and refers to our cats in public communication using this registry, but we do not have the power to name the campus cats.

We recognise that hall culture has to be organic, and have, in the past, acceded to hall residents’ requests to change the name of the cats. For example, Nachos – who was originally named Grey (Hall 4 still calls Nachos Earl Grey) – was renamed as Nachos after he was found to have been named as such by residents of Pioneer and Crescent Hall.

Residents, staff and faculty who do not understand that we exist often name the cats themselves – just last Wednesday, we came upon a visiting professor from the School of Art, Design and Media, who posted a photo of Sky from Hall 2 – he had renamed him Travis:

Before the central registry, names organically evolved through different batches of hall residents and Junior Common Room Committees. But when we consolidated and created the second central registry back in 2014 (the original one was created in 2007, but numbered cafes according to when they were established, instead of location), we based it off records and word-of-mouth responses from our hall coordinators. As these records did not exist for the cats of the North-east (Hall 3, 12-16), we relied on the names given by cleaning staff, who had been taking care of the cats.

In the case of Marmalade, we found that he was named Ang Moh by the cleaning staff. As this was deemed to be an inappropriate name for public use, we decided to hold a naming competition, alongside Nougat and Minerva, both of which were not given names by the cleaning staff.

We could not contact Hall 13’s JCRC at the time. Residents we contacted did not mention that Marmalade was named Ginger. Residents only responded on our Facebook page to correct his name a year after, and by then, we had already formalised our registry. Ginger also referred to a cat in Hall 8 and 9, who has since gone missing, and we felt that one of the names had to be changed to avoid confusion.

We are grateful that residents cared enough to write to us about the issue, and that residents understand that cats are integral to hall culture.

We understand their anger over this issue, and we have included Ginger as an alternate name for Marmalade. We will release new posters in Hall 12 and Hall 13 on Tuesday (Oct 4).

We are, however, extremely disappointed over the Chronicle’s decision to misrepresent and sensationalise our comments.

The Nanyang Chronicle neglected to inform readers of the reasons why the late Charlie was not renamed according to residents’ wishes.

We could not adopt the other given names – ‘Hitler’ and ‘Bobby’. Naming a cat ‘Hitler’ is wildly inappropriate and ‘Bobby’ refers to a current Hall 14 cat. In addition, Charlie’s ‘renaming’ did not elicit a negative response as the name we used was largely ignored – the hall publicity officials referred to Charlie as Bobby even when Charlie died:

Charlie’s example is not one of enmity between CMN and hall residents, but rather how CMN’s registry names are merely a suggestion, not a dictation. The fact that CMN and Hall 11 used different names to refer to the same cat was not an obstacle in our common goal to care for Charlie – in fact, several Hall 11 residents visited Charlie in her last days, and donated to help with her vet bills.

Through this article, the Nanyang Chronicle has placed at risk the trust we hold between NTU hall residents, cat lovers and us.

We sincerely hope that the Nanyang Chronicle will be more conscientious in discerning the newsworthiness of its stories in future.