SINGAPORE - Almost 30,000 people have signed two separate online petitions calling for the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the police to take tougher action against the man who filmed undergraduate Monica Baey in a shower at student residence Eusoff Hall last November.
The first petition, which has more than 21,600 signatures and was started last Saturday (April 20), urged NUS to impose stiffer punishments on those who commit sexual offences on university campuses.
The petition also called for the university to expel the man who filmed Ms Baey, and to treat sexual harassment and sexual assault cases against both men and women equally.
Ms Baey, a third-year NUS communications and new media undergraduate, took to her Instagram account last Thursday and Friday to share that she had noticed an iPhone being held underneath the door after she finished showering at the hall on Nov 25 last year.
The 23-year-old expressed her frustration that the university had not done more against the perpetrator, who she revealed on her Instagram account to be a Chemical Engineering student.
According to Ms Baey, the university had asked the perpetrator to write an apology letter to her and undergo mandatory counselling.
NUS student union to consider heavier punishments for sexual harassment cases
The National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU) executive committee (Exco) said on Sunday (April 21) that it is currently considering if there should be heavier punishments on those who commit sexual harassment offences.
In a statement on Facebook, the union said that the heavier punishments would be “as a matter of deterrence, and for retributive justice for victims”.
It added that it is drafting a report on whether existing guidelines should be revised.
However, besides punishment, the union also highlighted other aspects of how the university can better handle sexual harassment cases, in the light of the peeping Tom incident involving Ms Monica Baey.
These aspects include increasing the awareness and education of sexual harassment on campus, improving social-psychological support for victims, greater transparency and education on how such cases are dealt with in NUS and creating a safer environment for reporting these cases.
“NUSSU Exco also stresses that all members of NUS have a role to play in creating a culture where sexual harassment is not acceptable,” it said, adding that students have a part to play as well.
He was also banned from entering Eusoff Hall and suspended from school for a semester.
In the second petition, more than 8,200 people called for the police to relook Ms Baey's case and the punishment given to the man after he was handed a conditional warning.
The petition read: "We need to do more to protect our girls from such perverts! Such inaction is unacceptable and will only encourage more perverts to commit such crimes! It will also set an unhealthy precedent for future cases!"
NUS, in a statement last Saturday, confirmed that the case was investigated by the police and the man was given a 12-month conditional warning by the authorities.
The university also said that it will convene a committee to review its disciplinary and support frameworks.
It added that the committee will include members from the NUS Board of Trustees.
NUS said that the committee will study the approaches taken by other international institutions, solicit views from various stakeholders, and share its findings and follow-up actions in the new academic year, which begins in August.
On Sunday, Ms Baey and close to 500 other students also signed another petition addressed to several heads of the university, calling for more clarity on the members of the committee.
They asked for representatives from various student organisations, such as those focusing on gender equality, to be included.
Their petition also highlighted the lack of support for victims of sexual harassment and proposed that NUS set up a direct channel for students to report such cases, among other measures.
It listed possible tiers of penalties for sexual harassment offences that should be under the University Code of Student Conduct.
Separately, four NUS student organisations expressed their concern about the safety of the campus environment in a joint statement released on Monday.
The groups are enCAPTsulate, Gender Collective, The G Spot and tFreedom.
The statement urged the university to strengthen its response towards sexual misconduct in NUS residences, and step up on education efforts about gender equality and sexual respect among students.