Harsher penalties for sexual misconduct at NUS to take immediate effect

NUS will also launch its victim care unit at the end of August. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - New and tougher sanctions for sexual misconduct at the National University of Singapore (NUS) will take immediate effect on Thursday (June 13).

The sanctions proposed by a review committee include expulsion and longer suspensions for severe or serious offences.

A new disciplinary process will start in July to give victims a greater voice in the proceedings and hearings before the Board of Discipline.

In an e-mail to students, staff and alumni on Thursday, NUS president Tan Eng Chye set out the university's timeline for implementing various measures, some of which are already being put in place.

Training for first responders, including campus security officers, masters, resident fellows and resident advisers, and other frontline staff and students, will begin this month.

Security measures such as secure shower cubicles, restroom locks as well as extra closed-circuit television cameras and security officers in hostels are being ramped up in stages, and will be completed by October.

NUS will also launch its victim care unit at the end of August.

This office will be headed by a psychologist and have an advisory board comprising experts in the fields of law, social work and psychological medicine to ensure it has trained personnel to provide care, support and advice to victims.

In August, NUS will also launch a website with information and resources for victims of sexual misconduct, as well as a compulsory module on "Respect and Consent Culture" for all students and staff.

In his letter, Prof Tan said NUS has studied the recommendations made by the review committee, which was headed by Madam Kay Kuok, a barrister-at-law and a member of the NUS Board of Trustees.

NUS provost Ho Teck Hua will oversee the full plan to improve the safety of the university's campuses for 39,000 students and 12,000 staff, Prof Tan said.

He also highlighted that the university's sanctions and disciplinary frameworks are separate from, and in addition to, any criminal proceedings brought by law enforcement led by the police.

"The fact that a student is brought before the NUS Board of Discipline and receives sanctions has no effect on the investigation, sentencing and punishment by the police and the courts of Singapore. Together, these will serve as a strong deterrent against future offences and ensure the safety of the NUS community," he said.

The review came after third-year NUS undergraduate student Monica Baey made public her frustration about the lack of tough measures by the university against sexual misconduct. She revealed on her Instagram account in April that fellow student Nicholas Lim had filmed her in the shower at an NUS residence last year.

The harsher sanctions include immediate expulsion for severe or aggravated forms of sexual misconduct, and a minimum one-year suspension for serious offences, which the university's Board of Discipline or the Disciplinary Appeals Board cannot veto or remove.

Other actions include a no-contact protocol between the victim and offender as well as a notation of disciplinary action on all academic transcripts of sexual misconduct offenders, which can be expunged three years after it is imposed at the offender's request.

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