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NAFA: Graduate has spoken out on sexual harassment by former staff

NAFA cooperating with authorities, all complaints 'treated with utmost seriousness'

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Singapore— The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) posted on social media on Thursday night (Mar 25) about an alleged sexual harassment incident from last year.

On its Facebook account, the institution posted an open letter to the “NAFA Family” saying that one graduate had spoken up about an April 2020 sexual harassment incident by a former staff member.

No details about the incident have been made public.

NAFA wrote that it takes “a zero-tolerance stance on all forms of sexual misconduct” and added that it is cooperating fully with the authorities to provide assistance on the matter. 

“More importantly, we care about the individual’s well-being and have reached out to her and offered her support,” NAFA added, offering support to other students who may need it through studentcare@nafa.edu.sg.

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The institution added that all complaints from alumni, staff and students “will be treated with utmost seriousness, respect, and confidentiality” and that treatment of others “with dignity, consideration and respect” is expected from NAFA’s staff and students. 

“We take a strong stand against all forms of inappropriate behaviour,” it added.

The institution ended its post by writing that it is committed “to providing a safe environment for arts education and practice. Building a culture of mutual respect is a collective responsibility.” 

It appealed for the community to extend mutual support to nurture a  “safe campus environment for all”.

The Straits Times (ST) reports that an email that had similar content to the Facebook post was sent to students, staff and alumni on Wednesday (Mar 24) and signed by Ms Tan-Soh Wai Lan, the president of NAFA.

A spokesperson for the academy told ST that the graduate had told NAFA about the incident late last year.

“We are mindful of the sensitivities involved and remain in contact with the individual to assist her,” ST quotes the spokesperson as saying.

The staff member accused of sexual harassment had retired in mid-2020 before the incident came to light.

This allegation of sexual harassment is just one of several made involving Singaporean universities over the last year.

In September 2020, Zheng Yongnian, a writer, professor and former Director at the East Asian Institute (EAI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS), tendered his resignation from the institute following accusations of sexual harassment on social media in August. Professor Zheng is currently on leave until the end of his contract later this month.

The following month, Dr Jeremy Fernando, a fellow at Tembusu College, was sacked by the NUS after it investigated allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving two female students. A police report was also filed against him. 

And in December, the NUS dismissed a US-born political science professor due to sexual misconduct towards a student, it said in a statement on Dec 1.

An anonymous complaint regarding Professor Theodore Geoffrey Hopf, a Provost Chair Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, was first sent to the university in August last year.

/TISG

Read also: Another NUS academic sacked for sexual misconduct towards student

Another NUS academic sacked for sexual misconduct towards student

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