SMU didn't approve 'inappropriate' pop-up cafe event with waitresses in maid costumes

Sarah Koh
The Straits Times
July 7, 2023

The Singapore Management University (SMU) has called a now-cancelled “maid cafe” event inappropriate, and said it did not give approval for it to take place at a cafe on campus.

The Japanese-themed cafe Daijoubu, located on the SMU campus, said it would be “withdrawing the upcoming Tsundere Cafe” event in a Facebook post on Thursday.

The event was supposed to take place on Aug 26, in collaboration with event concept group SubaToki Cafe.

Tsundere cafes are a concept popularised in Japan, where waitresses are dressed in maid costumes, and customers willingly get berated and punished by them.

The Japanese term “tsundere” describes someone who is usually cold or cranky but occasionally shows a soft, kind and mushy side.

“As some of you are aware, there has been quite a bit of publicity around the pop-up event and we regret that this has created negative perceptions of the event and SMU,” said Daijoubu in its Facebook post, and added that it had not received permission from SMU to hold the event.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to SMU.”

An SMU spokesman told The Straits Times that its tenants are bound by their agreements with the university to seek its approval for any promotional activity, but Daijoubu did not do so.

“We do not think that an activity such as this is appropriate to be held on campus,” said the spokesman.

“We are disappointed that this has come to light in this manner, and have taken steps to ensure that tenants abide by their obligations.”

Located within SMU’s School of Computing and Information Systems, Daijoubu held a similar Tsundere Cafe event in March, also in collaboration with SubaToki Cafe.

A video of the event put up on Facebook by SubaToki Cafe shows customers doing push-ups, being smacked on the face and stepped on by waitresses.

The “punishments” were requested by the customers and are not part of the cafe’s routine services, said SubaToki Cafe.

@subatokicafe Here are the highlights of yesterday's Tsundere Cafe! Do note that these 'punishments' were personally requested by our customers, and are not meted out as part of our routine services. :3 #tsunderecafe #subatokicafe #Daijoubusg ♬ original sound - Subatoki Cafe

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