SINGAPORE: During the period spanning from 1 January to 30 June this year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) faced a total of eight reported cases of sexual misconduct, according to its half-yearly report released on 7 September.
Among these cases, three pertained to sexual assault, and one resulted in the expulsion of a student.
Notably, one of the complaints implicated a staff member of the institution.
All eight cases prompted the filing of police reports, underscoring the gravity of the situations at hand.
NUS, in its report, meticulously detailed the complaints received and the subsequent actions taken against the individuals accused.
This comprehensive approach aimed to underscore the university’s unwavering commitment to maintaining a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual misconduct while fostering a safe and secure environment for its community.
Sexual misconduct cases and responses
The first reported incident occurred on 25 January, when allegations emerged that a student had sexually assaulted a member of the public outside the campus premises.
Nevertheless, NUS was unable to pursue further action due to insufficient evidence.
A mere six days later, NUS received another grievance, this time involving a student accused of raping another student within a hostel.
As a consequence, a no-contact order was swiftly issued, and the implicated student was immediately expelled.
However, it’s worth noting that an appeal is pending against this expulsion.
Concurrently, an investigation is underway regarding the third reported sexual assault case, in which a student allegedly attempted to rape another student off-campus.
Disturbingly, this student also possessed intimate videos and photographs of the victim without the victim’s consent, leading to the issuance of a no-contact order.
In a separate incident involving the same student, allegations surfaced that they had surreptitiously filmed sexual acts with another person without consent and subsequently threatened to disseminate the footage online.
This complaint was filed in April, and a no-contact order was issued, with the case now awaiting a hearing by the university’s board of discipline.
Turning to the remaining three complaints, two revolved around cases of molestation.
On 13 February, NUS received a complaint in which a student was accused of inappropriately touching another student without consent outside the campus grounds.
NUS’ board of discipline responded by suspending the student for two semesters, banning them from university premises during the suspension, and imposing 120 hours of community-based sanctions and mandatory counseling.
Additionally, the student would be permanently prohibited from residing in on-campus housing for the remainder of their candidature.
A similar complaint of molestation in the same month is currently under consideration before NUS’ board of discipline.
No-contact orders were implemented in both of these cases.
In May, another complaint alleged that a student had disseminated intimate pictures of a member of the public online without their consent.
In response, the implicated student received a four-semester suspension, along with 120 hours of community-based sanctions and mandatory counseling.
Like the previous cases, the student would be barred from accessing campus facilities during the suspension period and on-campus housing upon their return to school.
In the sole case involving a staff member, NUS disclosed that no further action was taken after investigations concluded in May.
This staff member, who held an administrative role without teaching duties, was alleged to have molested a member of the public several years prior.
However, due to limited facts and evidence, a case could not be substantiated.
Updates on previous cases
NUS also provided updates on previous cases, which included a total of ten instances of sexual misconduct reported before 1 January 2023.
Out of these ten cases of sexual misconduct, six involved students allegedly touching the complainants inappropriately without their consent.
Two of the complainants were members of the public.
In one case, a student allegedly deceived a member of the public into providing intimate photos.
Another case involved a student who allegedly made multiple verbal remarks of a sexual nature towards another student while they were in a hostel.
The next incident of sexual misconduct involved a student who allegedly committed obscene acts on multiple occasions on campus.
The tenth reported case involved a student allegedly filming another student while the latter was showering.
NUS has grappled with addressing sexual misconduct for past few years
Over the years, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has confronted the challenge of addressing sexual misconduct within its campus community.
One of the most notable instances occurred in 2019 with the Monica Baey case, which brought the issue of campus sexual misconduct into the national spotlight.
The Monica Baey saga disturbs me on many levels, especially how the university’s counsellors responded to their students’ cries for help.
At the time, Baey, an NUS student, experienced a peeping tom incident in her campus residence hall.
Her subsequent criticism of NUS’ handling of the incident prompted significant changes in how the institution addresses such misconduct, including the establishment of a victim care unit.
Another incident in 2020 involved a former teaching staff member, Jeremy Fernando.
Responding to two separate allegations of sexual misconduct made by NUS students against Fernando, the university took the step of filing a police report against him.
In light of multiple sexual misconduct cases involving faculty members and a thorough review of the processes for handling such cases, NUS has committed to strengthening its policies for addressing sexual misconduct.
This includes providing training for staff and bystanders to identify and respond appropriately to instances of sexual misconduct.
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