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Ex-NTU Exco member withdraws from SU Presidential race, issues apology for intoxicating junior incident

Ethan Ong, a former NTUSU Executive Committee member who served a 5-week suspension last year for intoxicating a junior, has been voted out of the SU Presidential race on Sunday (24 Sep).

In response to the incident, he extended an apology to “all affected parties” and maintained that his actions stemmed from “a lack of judgment in a situation where better discretion should have prevailed,” emphasizing the absence of malicious intent.

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SINGAPORE: Ethan Ong, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Nanyang Technological University Student Union (NTUSU), who faced suspended 5-week last year for Intoxicating junior, has reportedly been voted out from the SU Presidential race due to a scandal.

According to Soapbox.sg, a student-run news organization at NTU, it was noted that during the SU election held on Sunday (24 Sep), the election results at the annual rally showed 20 votes against Ethan Ong and seven in favour, with six individuals choosing to abstain.

The voting pool included representatives from various university clubs, including both academic and non-academic, as well as presidents and vice presidents.

After Ethan’s withdrawal from the race, two other student leaders stepped forward to run for the presidency.

In an interview with the Singaporean state media, The Straits Times on Monday (25 Sep), Mr Ong apologised to “all affected parties”, saying, “I sincerely regret this incident and the impact it might have on other members at the gathering.”

“However, I firmly disagree with any characterisation or actions taken online which suggest that I had any intention to deceive another individual. ”

“My actions were not motivated by any malice, but rather a lack of judgment in a situation where better discretion should have prevailed.”

NTU probes into “alcohol-related incident” from last year following recent complaint

In the meantime, NTU emphasized its commitment to treating all allegations of misconduct with utmost seriousness and confirmed that the university had received a complaint regarding an “alcohol-related incident” in September.

This incident, which occurred in October 2022, was initially reported to the student union. The complaint alleged, “that the respondent had caused the complainant to drink more alcohol than she had intended by telling her that it was water”.

NTU disclosed that it conducted interviews and obtained statements from six students who were present at the “social gathering” where the incident transpired.

“At no time during the gathering was the complainant alone with the respondent. There was no allegation or assertion by the complainant or any of the witnesses that the respondent had tried to do anything so that he could be alone with the respondent.”

NTU affirmed that support was offered to “students connected with the incident”.

In light of reports concerning this incident circulating on social media and alternative news outlets, NTU urged online users to refrain from making “speculative and unsubstantiated allegations.”

Ethan Ong faces questioning from fellow student leaders regarding the intoxication incident

In a separate development, Soapbox.sg reported that during the SU Election rally, Ethan Ong, a fourth-year student from Nanyang Business School, found himself in the spotlight as various student leaders posed questions about the intoxication incident.

When asked about his thoughts on the accusations, the 24-year-old acknowledged them but stated that he refrained from making any comments earlier to respect the due process of the university’s investigations.

“The first outcome is that I have been allowed to continue my bid for election because the school did not feel that the incident has impeded my eligibility and ability to continue serving the student body as I have done for the past few years,” he claimed.

Ethan further noted that, aside from a verbal counseling session with the university, no other disciplinary actions had been taken against him.

He expressed regret about the incident and emphasized that he had no malicious or hidden intentions.

“Moving forward, I will be more cautious of my actions and I hope that students will give me the opportunity to serve the student body this semester,” he added.

In response to a student who questioned his decision to run despite being aware of the potential harm to the union, Ethan contended that “we were able to put the incident behind us and move on from there”.

“The truth is after (the school) analyzed the facts from people present that night, the incident does not impede my ability to run for president,” he said.

“I do think I am still able to serve the student body in a very substantial and dedicated way.”

According to Soapbox, Ethan Ong recounted his version of the incident to fellow student leaders, explaining that during a gathering in his residence hall for drinking in October 2022, one of the attendees repeatedly requested drinks

“As the night progressed, there came a time when a senior leader told me to stop and just give her water,” he said.

However, he stated that his interactions with the alleged victim gave him the impression that she was still willing to consume alcohol.

“So one side was telling me to stop giving drinks but the other said she was okay to continue. I thought I would just give the drinks to both of them to appease both sides,” he added.

As the night progressed, the alleged victim eventually fell asleep but later began vomiting, according to Ethan. He mentioned that once she had sobered up, the team ensured her safe return to her residence hall.

Victim’s opposition to the perpetrator’s reinstatement echoed well before the SU election

However, according to the victim’s account, as reported by the soapbox.sg earlier, after consuming a few drinks and feeling lightheaded, she requested water. However, instead of water, the perpetrator offered her cups of alcohol.

Due to her heavy intoxication, she couldn’t recall the events of that night. Nevertheless, eyewitnesses in the room observed what was happening, and the president allegedly intervened, instructing Ethan to stop serving alcohol to her.

One of the eyewitnesses reported that the victim vomited and had to be removed from the room. She remained unconscious for six hours, with the president and chief of staff staying with her, as recounted to Soapbox.sg.

The victim only learned about the incident a week later and felt betrayed, as she had a close working relationship with the perpetrator and would not have consumed drinks from people she did not trust.

“I felt angered because I don’t normally drink in a guy’s room or with people I don’t trust,” she said. “But it was because we had that close working relationship and the fact that he was a respected senior four years older than me.”

Regarding the incident, on October 18th of the previous year, it was brought before the NTUSU disciplinary board, which decided to suspend the perpetrator for what they deemed as “overboard actions.”

The victim also earlier opposed Ethan Ong’s reinstatement months before the election season this September because she was unhappy with how NTUSU had dealt with the matter and felt he should not run.

NTUSU claims all parties involved, and affected parties sought to “move forward from the incident”

On September 22nd, NTUSU issued a statement on its Instagram page addressing the allegations circulating online.

They confirmed that they had conducted an internal investigation and suspended the perpetrator from Union duties for five weeks.

After the suspension, all parties involved, and affected parties sought to “move forward from the incident”, the statement claimed.

The statement also mentioned that the university had concluded its investigations into the matter, with no ongoing disciplinary proceedings against the perpetrator.

NTUSU rescheduled Executive Committee voting and postponed AGM

In a noteworthy turn of events, the student union has revealed that during the SU election, only 5 out of the 22 Executive Committee positions had the chance to garner support and secure votes from Council members.

The elections for the remaining positions have been rescheduled and are now slated to occur on October 1, 2023.

Because the election for the 33rd NTUSU Executive Committee remains incomplete, the Annual General Meeting will be deferred to a future date.

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