NUS to work with students to tighten security

The National University of Singapore will introduce educational seminars on respect, consent and awareness for all students, faculty and staff, from August 2019 when the new academic year starts. PHOTO: ST FILE

The National University of Singapore (NUS) will work with student representatives to tighten security in the bathrooms of all halls of residence of students. It will also introduce educational seminars on respect, consent and awareness for all students, faculty and staff from August, when the new academic year starts.

Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS senior deputy president and provost, announced these "immediate actions" yesterday evening in an e-mail to students.

His e-mail, which was seen by The Straits Times, followed Thursday's town hall session at NUS to address concerns over how a case in which a female undergraduate was filmed by a male student was handled.

More than 600 students attended the 1½-hour session, but many were left frustrated, saying the time allocated was not enough to voice their views; they also complained about a failure to address their concerns directly.

But in his e-mail yesterday, Prof Ho said the town hall session was just the "first step in a broad consultation with the NUS community to hear from our students, faculty and staff". "We are committed to providing further opportunities for consultation and feedback in the coming weeks, including more town hall sessions," he added.

He said the points raised at the session would be shared in full with the committee that has been convened to review the university's disciplinary and support frameworks for sexual misconduct.

The committee will be chaired by Madam Kay Kuok, a member of the NUS board of trustees and chairman of its nominating committee.

Its initial members are: Singapore Management University president Lily Kong; law firm WongPartnership managing partner Ng Wai King; NUS president Tan Eng Chye; and a representative from the NUS Students' Union.

Prof Ho said: "I would like to state emphatically that we take our responsibilities very seriously when it comes to protecting everyone in our community from harm... We are committed to a transparent and consultative process, and our proposed actions will continue to be published for your feedback before they are implemented by the start of the new academic year."

At the town hall session, the NUS management acknowledged that it had failed Ms Monica Baey, 23, who had been frustrated about how NUS handled her case and what she saw as a lack of serious action taken against the culprit, Mr Nicholas Lim, 23.

NUS had required him to write an apology letter to Ms Baey and undergo mandatory counselling. It also banned him from entering Eusoff Hall and suspended him for a semester.

Last week, she highlighted her frustrations on her Instagram account, and identified Mr Lim as the one who had filmed her at Eusoff Hall last November. This sparked a national discussion on how universities should handle such cases, with NUS coming under even more criticism after it revealed it had a "second strike and you are out" policy, which will be reviewed.

In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times that was published yesterday, Ms Baey said she went public with her ordeal not to seek revenge, but to raise awareness about the issue.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline NUS to work with students to tighten security. Subscribe