SINGAPORE - A 24-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) student was arrested on Saturday morning (March 7) for entering a women’s toilet in an NUS residential college, allegedly to install a hidden camera.
The police said in a statement on Monday night that they found two spy cameras in two women’s toilets on the same floor in the college following his arrest. One of the two cameras was found in the toilet the student was detained in.
They are now investigating the case as one of criminal trespass and suspected voyeurism.
An NUS spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday that the student has been suspended with immediate effect and has been barred from entering all campus premises.
The police said they received a call from NUS campus security at about 6am on Saturday, after security staff found and detained the student in the women’s toilet of the College of Alice and Peter Tan, which has residential facilities for students.
He does not live in the residential college but is believed to have stayed there overnight against house rules as a guest of one of the college's residents.
Since the incident, the university has been conducting a sweep of women's toilets on campus. No other suspicious devices have been uncovered, the university's spokesman said.
The two devices that were removed "look like smoke detectors but were actually spy cams mounted in the two female toilets of level 12", according to a message from NUS to college residents, which was seen by ST earlier on Monday.
The police also said the hidden camera the arrested student was allegedly trying to install had been “disguised as a smoke detector”.
Those found guilty of criminal trespass can be jailed up to three months, fined up to $1,500, or both. Those convicted of voyeurism can be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of these punishments.
The NUS spokesman said college staff are contacting students affected by the incident to offer support and assistance, and reminded residents not to let guests stay overnight.
She said that the university takes "a very serious view" of the matter.
"Disciplinary action will be taken against any student found to have breached the university's rules and regulations. We also urge the NUS community to remain vigilant, and to immediately report any suspicious person or activity to campus security."
The Saturday incident is the latest case of sexual misconduct at the university. Last year, NUS was embroiled in a high-profile case in which undergraduate Monica Baey was filmed showering at a university hostel by another student.
The perpetrator, Mr Nicholas Lim, was suspended for a semester and banned from going to Ms Baey's hostel, among other things. Separately, he was handed a conditional warning by the police.
That incident prompted a national debate about how sexual misconduct cases were dealt with in universities here after Ms Baey expressed her frustration over the perceived light punishment meted out to Mr Lim.
In its aftermath, a committee was formed to review NUS' disciplinary and support frameworks, with the university in June accepting all recommendations by the committee including tougher penalties such as a minimum one-year suspension for serious offences, such as the voyeuristic taking of photographs or videos in toilets, and immediate expulsion for severe or aggravated cases like molest.
Since the incident, NUS has also ramped up campus security, increasing the number of guards at hostels and pledged to add hundreds of closed-circuit television cameras near toilets and shower cubicles.
Other university students have been charged in court for illicit filming of female victims in showers and toilets, including a Singaporean student from a top British university who allegedly targeted 12 women he knew here.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung addressed the issue of sexual misconduct in universities in Parliament last year, saying there was a need to tackle the growing concern of voyeurism among young people.
He said the six local universities handled 56 cases of sexual misconduct involving students in the three academic years before May last year, with 66 per cent - or 37 cases - related to Peeping Tom incidents and filming of people in private spaces.
But he also noted that there was "no discernible trend" in the three years he was referring to in the number of cases reported, with student perpetrators consistently making up around 0.2 per cent per 1,000 cases.
Still, a survey commissioned by The Straits Times in June last year showed that most sexual misconduct cases on university campuses here go unreported, with victims often fearing the social stigma attached or that others will not believe them.