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Review committee to NUS: stricter punishments, but past sexual misconduct cases should remain closed

This would effectively mean that Monica Baey's case will not be re-opened

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Singapore— In the wake of undergraduate Monica Baey’s case shining a spotlight on its policies regarding sexual misconduct two months ago, a review committee has given the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Board of Trustees their recommendations after reviewing these policies, which the NUS has accepted in full.

One of these recommendations is to not reopen past cases, which means that Ms Baey’s case will not be revisited.

Ms Baey had not been happy with how her case, wherein a fellow student had filmed her while she was in the shower, had been handled, and made public the details of it on social media in April. The result was a national conversation in which even the Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung, got involved in, and he even made a speech in Parliament concerning the issue.

Ms Baey has said that she would like for her case to be reopened.

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The review committee evaluated the university’s framework both for disciplining students who had committed sexual misconduct as well as for supporting the victims of these actions.

Madam Kay Kuok, who helmed the committee, sent an email to NUS students and staff on June 10, Monday, she said the committee had “consulted with external legal advisors and determined that past cases on which the Board of Discipline had formally ruled, and for which sanctions have been meted out, cannot be reopened.”

In a Facebook post on June 10, Hsieh Fu Hua, the Chairman of NUS Board of Trustees, said that the Board feels that

“the recommendations are informed, balanced and robust. It reflects our community’s common desire for tougher penalties for offenders and greater support for victims, and for fostering an enduring culture of respect and support on campus.”

The post also said that NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye will be speaking out in the next days concerning the new measures that will be implemented and that in two years these disciplinary and support frameworks will be evaluated yet again, to make sure that “the frameworks remain effective and relevant.”

What the new framework includes, according to NUS News’ “Building a safer campus”

  1. “Tougher penalties for sexual misconduct, with a minimum sanction of a one-year suspension for serious offences and immediate expulsion for severe cases.

2. All offenders will also have a notation of disciplinary suspension on his or her academic transcript — both interim and final.

3. a no-contact protocol will be put in place to ensure that the victim and offender do not come into contact with each other, for instance, are not in the same classes or non-academic programmes.

4. Additionally, upon completion of the suspension, all offenders will be required to be certified fit-to-return by a counsellor and/or medical professional before he or she can return to campus, with the possibility of extension if the student does not receive this certification.

5. The Committee also recommended that each offender have a case officer assigned to him or her to ensure all sanctions are adhered to, and to provide support during the rehabilitation process.

6. Other existing sanctions that can be imposed by the Board of Discipline (BOD) include mandatory counselling and rehabilitation, community service, a ban from campus housing or other premises, suspension from academic and non-academic privileges, and a letter of reprimand.”

Moreover, the recommendations also include “that victims should be given more voice and increased involvement in the disciplinary process, including being kept up-to-date on the disciplinary proceedings, filing a statement of facts before the BOD hearing process, filing an impact statement, as well as be provided with an avenue to request for a review of BOD or Disciplinary Appeals Board outcomes in exceptional circumstances.”

Madam Kuok said, “The Committee believes that these recommendations set a new benchmark for disciplinary sanctions for sexual misconduct. The higher benchmark will send a strong message that the University does not tolerate sexual misconduct and serve as a strong deterrent.”

More on the recommendations to NUS can be found here./ TISG

Read related: Monica Baey, “I can’t believe it. Change has finally come”

 

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