SMU steps up campus security to deter sexual misconduct

SMU said on Thursday that it has increased the number of CCTV monitors to ensure adequate coverage outside toilets and shower facilities, and installed additional signage warning against trespass into such areas. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Management University (SMU) has stepped up its campus security and strengthened ground patrols to deter and guard against acts of sexual misconduct.

According to internal documents on student disciplinary code and procedure seen by The Straits Times, those caught committing such acts could face sanctions such as indefinite suspension, with specified conditions for returning; or expulsion from the university.

Acts of sexual misconduct - which include inappropriate physical contact of a sexual nature, and making or sharing recordings of a sexual nature without consent or which insult the modesty of others - are to be considered as "major violations".

The documents also laid out factors to be taken into account when imposing sanctions, among which are: the mental health status or medical history of the accused student; the nature, frequency and seriousness of the violation; the harm caused by the student as a result of the violation; demonstration of remorse; and any relevant mitigating circumstances.

The university said on Thursday (Oct 3) that it has also increased the number of CCTV monitors to ensure adequate coverage outside toilets and shower facilities, and installed additional signage warning against trespass into such areas.

SMU provost Timothy Clark said: "As a university, SMU is committed to ensuring respect and dignity of all in our community as well as providing a safe and supportive environment on campus. We encourage and expect high standards of conduct from everyone within the SMU community."

The university has also set up a first-response student support unit, called Voices @ SMU, to provide professional care for students - both victims and accused parties.

The unit is supported by a team of trained staff who will provide students with the necessary assistance, as well as explain and explore reporting and support options regarding their cases.

Professor Clark added that these measures were implemented after a review of the student discipline policy, procedures and framework.

He had chaired the Student Disciplinary Review Task and Finish Group, which comprised faculty members from various schools, representatives from the office of the dean of students, as well as current and past presidents of the SMU Student Association.

The National University of Singapore had also implemented similar measures in May this year, following criticism over the way it had handled a sexual misconduct case in one of its student hostels.

In April this year, NUS undergraduate Monica Baey, 23, spoke up on how she had been filmed by a male student while she was showering in Eusoff Hall.

She took to Instagram to express unhappiness at the punishment meted out to the student, whom she named as fellow undergraduate Nicholas Lim.
He had been asked to write an apology letter to her and undergo mandatory counselling. He was also banned from entering hostels and suspended from school for a semester.

NUS provost Ho Teck Hua had told students in May that more than 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities would be upgraded in phases till early this month. For instance, the bottom of shower stall doors would be covered up.

In August, NUS was also the first university to set up a Victim Care Unit. Victims can contact the unit via a 24-hour hotline, a confidential online contact form or e-mail.

They will then be connected to care officers, who will work with them to identify pressing needs and resources.

If needed, the care officers will liaise with other units or agencies on their behalf, including referring them to counsellors.

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