NUS disciplinary board heard 26 sexual offence cases over three years

The National University of Singapore has said it is reviewing its "two strikes and you're out" policy for handling sexual misconduct cases after it came under fire.
The National University of Singapore has said it is reviewing its "two strikes and you're out" policy for handling sexual misconduct cases after it came under fire.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

In 13 cases, the culprits had committed multiple acts of sexual misconduct; none of the students was expelled

Over the past three years, 26 cases of sexual offences  [See clarification note below] were brought before the National University of Singapore's (NUS) disciplinary board, according to a summary of cases available on the university's student portal.

Eighteen cases involved sexual voyeurism, with some students also taking upskirt videos and photographs, or filming both male and female students showering.

Five involved outrage of modesty, or touching the thighs or buttocks of female students.

The last three were a mix of acts such as harassment via text messages, or calls of a sexual nature and indecent exposure.

Separately, there were another three cases of trespassing and theft of female undergarments from hostels.

On Monday, NUS revealed how it handles sexual misconduct cases, laying out a "two strikes and you're out" policy, where a student found guilty of sexual misconduct a second time will be expelled. 

  • 16 

    Number of cases - from among the 26 sexual misconduct and three undergarment theft cases in the past three academic years - that involved police investigations.

 
 
 
 
 

The university has since said it will be reviewing this policy, which has been criticised widely by the public and students.

The issue came to light after Ms Monica Baey, 23, a third-year NUS communications and new media undergraduate, shared on Instagram last week that she was filmed showering at Eusoff Hall in November.

Of the 26 sexual misconduct cases and three theft cases in the past three academic years, 16 involved police investigations, which led to sentences such as imprisonment for as long as 16 weeks, supervised probation and community service.

According to the summary of cases, which was made public by a group of students on Facebook, 17 cases ended with the offenders being suspended from school for mostly one to two semesters.

None of the students was expelled, even when they had committed multiple acts of sexual misconduct. There were 13 such cases.

Most of the offenders were banned from entering halls on campus, had to carry out community service and also write apology letters to victims. Some were fined $500 to $1,000.

Two cases involving the same student that were reviewed in the academic year 2016/2017 almost led to an expulsion, but the male student appealed successfully against the board's decision.

In the first case, the student trespassed into a female toilet and peeped at a female student while she showered.

He was issued a 12-month conditional warning by the police for this first offence and NUS barred him from all campus residences, imposed a $500 fine and mandatory community service, along with an official reprimand.

He later committed another offence by outraging the modesty of a female student. The disciplinary board decided to expel him, but the student appealed against it.

The Disciplinary Appeals Board revised the initial decision after considering the student's psychiatric disorder. He was then suspended for 18 months and had to undergo psychiatric treatment.

Ms Adeline Loh, 21, a second-year Yale-NUS College literature student, said: "Those documents reveal that there is a strong precedent in NUS for letting off perpetrators very leniently, so the current (Monica Baey) case shows how the university has consistently let the vulnerable members of its community down and how urgent it is for them to initiate swift and decisive reform in the way they handle sexual assault on campus.

"I think it's precisely because the university chooses to treat each case as isolated incidents rather than realising that they stem from a fundamental failure to reform the way we treat vulnerable members of our community and their experiences of sexual assault that leads to these seemingly light punishments."

Clarification: In a statement on April 28, the police said that there were in fact 25 cases – not 26 – of sexual offences brought before the NUS Board of Discipline during the academic years from 2015/16 to 2017/18. One of the cases had been double-counted.  

Of these 25 cases, the victims in 17 – not 16 – cases reported the incidents to the police. The police, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, prosecuted the accused in nine of these 17 cases in court. The accused in the seven other cases were given conditional warnings, and one case is under investigation. 

Out of the nine cases prosecuted in court, five – and not two – resulted in jail terms of between 10 days and eight months, the police said. Three accused were given supervised probation, and one given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.  

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2019, with the headline 'NUS disciplinary board heard 26 sexual offence cases over three years'. Print Edition | Subscribe