Singapore—The April 25 town hall at the National University of Singapore (NUS) over cases of sexual misconduct was so full that officials were forced to open another hall so that another 500 students could participate in the live streaming of the meeting.
Towards the end of the meeting, which had stretched to half an hour longer than the scheduled time given, there was still a long line of students waiting to ask questions from NUS vice-provost for student life, Florence Ling, and the Dean of Students, Peter Pang.
One student, Kellynn Wee @KellynnWee, took to Twitter to live-tweet the meeting, capturing many of the emotions that the students, who were clamouring for change, expressed.
Ms Wee writes that one young woman from the NUS student union was the first student who spoke after Monica Baey and Professor Florence Ling.
She said that people had not been happy with the statement from the student union and that she had been actually threatened with rape on her social media account. Ms Wee tweeted her as saying,
“It just goes to show how entrenched these cultural attitudes are… There’s only so much institutions can do. How can we catalyse attitudinal and cultural shift?”
She also wrote that when a Yale-NUS student called the review committee to account over promised workshops regarding sexual misconduct and consent three years ago—which had never materialized—the crowd applauded.
Does it take a national controversy for us to get things changing every time?”
The crowd applauds.”
Another student went up to the microphone, reading a “powerful personal statement” from a woman who had also been the victim of a peeping tom in a dormitory shower. When she reported the incident, nothing happened.
Ms Wee tweeted, “Office of Campus Security gave the young woman a rape whistle. Counsellors told the victim not to report the case to give the man who committed the violation a chance for “rehabilitation”.
The statement read, “I was utterly failed by the administration… Overall there is a systemic failure in the way that NUS handles these cases… NUS leadership does not understand the trauma that victims face.”
She adds that her friends now wait for her to shower in the communal toilets and that she is wracked with anxiety and fear.
“I’m angry, scared, and most importantly I no longer feel safe here.”
Yet another student called the Dean of students out for using the term “sexual misconduct” and not “sexual assault” in the press statement from the NUS.
The students continued to air their concerns, experiences and suggestions for better policies.
At one point, Ms Wee takes note that the officials keep deferring to the review committee, which had yet to be formed. She said the students were obviously dissatisfied with this.
She also said that students would like to participate more in policymaking in these issues.
One student, although counseled to speak in a “safe space,” decided to make her molestation story public.
While many students still wanted to ask questions, the professors had to leave for another meeting. The final student who spoke had a pointed parting shot for them.
Professor Pang noted that victim care at NUS is “totally inadequate” but that the university would endeavour to change this./TISG
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