Student group calls on NUS to show 'transparency and accountability' in handling case of professor sacked for inappropriate behaviour

Student group calls on NUS to show 'transparency and accountability' in handling case of professor sacked for inappropriate behaviour

File photo of National University of Singapore (NUS)
File photo of the National University of Singapore (NUS). (Photo: Alif Amsyar)

SINGAPORE: A student-run group from the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Monday (Oct 19) called on the university to show "transparency and accountability" following the dismissal of a professor at Tembusu College for inappropriate behaviour.

Dr Jeremy Fernando was sacked by the university following an internal investigation after it received two complaints alleging that he had “behaved inappropriately as a teaching staff”, a spokesperson for NUS said on Sunday.

The spokesperson added that Dr Fernando’s conduct was “found to have fallen short of the standards of professionalism that the university expects of a teaching staff”.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Students for a Safer NUS (SafeNUS) said NUS’ initial remarks on the matter were “sparse” and urged it to take “proactive measures” on this case.

“The first statement from any staff representative was delivered about two weeks after his dismissal,” it said.

“It was sparse on providing information on follow-up measures, and released only after individuals on social media had already made light of this incident.

“While we fully understand the importance of confidentiality in such cases to protect survivors’ identities, it is not the same as silence on the subject. Accountability and support are needed for students to feel safe.”

SafeNUS also wrote on Facebook that it was "disappointed in the lack of clarification and accountability shown by Tembusu College in the wake of Jeremy Fernando’s dismissal".

It added: "We call upon all NUS students to demand for transparency and accountability from the university."

According to his curriculum vitae, Dr Fernando was a lecturer and fellow of Tembusu College from September 2011 to October 2020.

SafeNUS said it has reached out to Tembusu College and NUS administration staff to seek clarification on what happened in the case. 

“Moving forward, we hope to see more proactive measures taken by the administration in order to keep students and the community updated on this case.” 

In its statement, the group said it has also requested for clarifications on the NUS Staff Code of Conduct, consistent follow-up on supporting survivors, and follow-up correspondence with the group and the student body on building better safety measures.

SafeNUS was formed in 2019 after then-undergraduate Monica Baey was filmed by a fellow student while showering in a hostel bathroom.

She spoke out about how the university handled the case, resulting in changes to disciplinary frameworks at NUS and other universities, with the issue of sexual misconduct on campuses also being raised in Parliament. 

Responding to the statement by SafeNUS, an NUS spokesperson said the university is aware of the statements. 

“We thank the students for raising their concerns and sharing suggestions with us. We are studying their statements carefully and we will reach out to the student groups in due course.” 

Tembusu College is one of four residential colleges in University Town, an extension of the main NUS Kent Ridge campus. Professor Tommy Koh is the Rector of the College. 

Source: CNA/hw(rw)

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