NUS ramps up campus security to tackle voyeurism

BEFORE There are gaps below and above the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. AFTER The gaps below and above the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works t
BEFORE: There are gaps above the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. PHOTO: NUS
BEFORE There are gaps below and above the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. AFTER The gaps below and above the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works t
AFTER: The gaps above the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works to prevent Peeping Tom incidents.PHOTO: NUS
BEFORE There are gaps below and above the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. AFTER The gaps below and above the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works t
BEFORE: There are gaps below the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. PHOTO: NUS
BEFORE There are gaps below and above the shower stalls. Provost Ho Teck Hua said over 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded. AFTER The gaps below and above the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works t
AFTER: The gaps below the shower stalls will be covered up in the upgrading works to prevent Peeping Tom incidents.PHOTO: NUS

Besides adding guards and CCTV cameras, it'll boost security at toilets and shower cubicles

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has stepped up campus security, with provost Ho Teck Hua telling students that it has increased the number of guards at hostels and will add hundreds of CCTV cameras and provide better security at toilets and shower cubicles.

In his e-mail on Friday, which was seen by The Sunday Times, Professor Ho said: "All these measures will act as a stronger deterrent against potential offenders and improve overall security on campus."

The e-mail came a week after a campus meeting with staff and undergraduates, where the university's management said it would take immediate steps to better support victims of sexual misconduct and help students feel safer.

It followed criticism over the way NUS handled such cases, after undergraduate Monica Baey, 23, took to social media to express her frustration after she was filmed showering in Eusoff Hall by fellow student Nicholas Lim, also 23.

Prof Ho, who is also NUS senior deputy president, said in his e-mail that more than 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded in phases from now till October. For instance, the bottom of shower stall doors will be covered up and by the end of next month, restrooms in hostels will have electronic locks.

NUS has also introduced roving security patrols and at least 300 extra CCTV cameras will be installed by the end of June, he said.

He added that details are being finalised for a new Victim Care Unit that is set to begin operations in the new academic year in August. It will give victims a centralised place to report incidents and get help.

 
 

FOSTERING CULTURE OF RESPECT

Our long-term goal is to foster an enduring culture of respect and support, one that makes our campus a place where you feel safe.

NUS PROVOST HO TECK HUA

PROTECTION FOR VICTIMS

I really hope that to complement the physical infrastructure, we will also see stronger support networks, protection for victims and whistle-blowers, and more transparent guidelines on how disciplinary cases are dealt with.

MS JESSIE LIM, a third-year student

CCTV WON'T DETER ALL OFFENDERS

Ultimately, no matter how many walls and CCTVs are set up, there will be offenders. It's important for NUS to reform the disciplinary framework in accordance with the seriousness of sexual misconduct and provide professional support for victims, including during the reporting process."

MS MEGAN MORAIS, a second-year arts and social sciences student.

A new course on respect and consent will be delivered to students, faculty and staff from August.

Prof Ho said he and NUS president Tan Eng Chye held the first of a series of sessions on Friday to meet students and discuss their concerns. The consultation process - which includes representatives from various halls, residential colleges and student groups - will carry on till the middle of next month.

Prof Ho said: "Our long-term goal is to foster an enduring culture of respect and support, one that makes our campus a place where you feel safe."

At the meeting last month, the NUS management acknowledged that it had failed Ms Baey, who believes that Mr Lim was let off too lightly. The NUS disciplinary board suspended him for a semester and banned him from entering all hostels. It also made him write an apology letter and undergo mandatory counselling.

NUS undergraduates said the immediate steps provide some reassurance, but more must be done to educate the school community about sexual respect in the long run.

Third-year student Jessie Lim, 21, said: "Revamping the structure of our bathrooms and ramping up security measures is definitely a long-term investment and it shows the university's commitment to making the campus safer.

"But considering that many victims of sexual assault or harassment personally know their perpetrators, I'm not sure how effective these physical barriers will be."

The political science student, who lives on campus, added: "I really hope that to complement the physical infrastructure, we will also see stronger support networks, protection for victims and whistle-blowers, and more transparent guidelines on how disciplinary cases are dealt with."

Second-year arts and social sciences student Megan Morais, 21, said: "At most, the measures are physical deterrents, but people often find a way around them, especially if offenders are residents too.

"While the bathroom stall (covers) and electronic locks target voyeurism cases directly, sexual harassment and assault often happen between peers and residents in innocuous settings, like get-togethers or even study sessions."

Ms Morais, who lives in a residential college, added: "Ultimately, no matter how many walls and CCTVs are set up, there will be offenders. It's important for NUS to reform the disciplinary framework in accordance with the seriousness of sexual misconduct and provide professional support for victims, including during the reporting process."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 05, 2019, with the headline 'NUS ramps up security'. Print Edition | Subscribe