Sexual harassment is a critical issue that Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) are taking extremely seriously. Both universities are currently reviewing their disciplinary frameworks, with the goal of protecting their students from sexual harassment and misconduct on campus.
On-campus sexual harassment
has been an uncomfortable and controversial topic of conversation ever since National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Monica Baey was filmed in the shower of her hostel by another student in November 2018.
The perpetrator, a chemical engineering student by the name of Lim Jun Kai, was given a one-term suspension and a 12-month conditional warning by the police. He was banned from entering all on-campus housing premises, ordered to write an apology letter to Baey and made to perform 30 hours of community service.
Baey, who felt strongly that the punishment meted out to Lim did not in any way match his crimes against her, took to social media last week to share her views on the matter of sexual harassment. Baey called for “real consequences” for the perpetrator and challenged NUS on its support and disciplinary frameworks for such matters.
NUS has pledged its support for Baey and has vowed to review its own disciplinary proceedings. In light of this, NTU and SMU have also risen to the occasion with their own reviews in place.
NTU’s review, which was started in late 2018, is closely studying the efficacy of its procedures on handling cases of sexual misconduct and support systems for caring for victims. It is also looking at rehabilitation processes for offenders and whether punishments currently in place match their crimes.
An NTU spokesperson told another media source that they are also carefully considering “evolving social norms and expectations” in their review.
NTU is adding another measure in the fight against sexual harassment. Beginning July, NTU will offer a new online module, which student leaders had an active part in designing, on anti-harassment for all freshmen and student organisers of orientation and transition programmes.
The module will give pertinent information (via text and video) on the important points that students need to understand about sexual harassment. Firstly, it will define harassment in clear terms, it will detail how one should respond in such cases, and it will give instructions on where and how students should seek help.
NTU said that from the beginning of 2019, harsher anti-harassment policies have been put in place for students and university employees alike. Disciplinary action may include police involvement as well as expulsion from the university and a rehabilitation program for offenders. For victims, NTU said that support and counselling will be provided.
As for SMU, president Lily Kong said that their review process will “consider international best practices”, emphasising the need for thorough and objective investigations into incidents of sexual misconduct.
Respect and support for students is considered the number one priority, and those who are victims of sexual harassment will be given every assistance and support by SMU, said Professor Kong. That includes counselling and administrative support for re-scheduling of classes or similar matters, if necessary.
Both universities have strongly pledged to hold the safety of their students above all else.
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