NUS announces implementation plan for recommendations by review committee on sexual misconduct

NUS announces implementation plan for recommendations by review committee on sexual misconduct

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a “full implementation plan” for recommendations submitted by a review committee on sexual misconduct, a letter from the university’s president announced on Thursday (Jun 13). Deborah Wong reports.

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a “full implementation plan” for recommendations submitted by a review committee on sexual misconduct, a letter from the university’s president announced on Thursday (Jun 13).

The school convened the review committee in April after undergraduate Monica Baey called for "justice" against a fellow student who filmed her having a shower at her hostel. 

The committee submitted its recommendations on Monday and later that day, the NUS Board of Trustees announced it accepted these recommendations "in full".

READ: NUS accepts recommendations by review committee on sexual misconduct

"The University has studied the recommendations in detail and we have developed a full implementation plan for the recommendations and their integration with measures already being undertaken by the University to enhance the safety of our campuses for our 39,000 students and 12,000 staff. 

"This will be overseen by the Provost," said Professor Tan Eng Chye. 

Part of the plan is a new sanctions framework for offenders in sexual misconduct cases, which goes into effect on Thursday. 

Measures include a minimum one-year suspension, immediate expulsion for severe offences, notation of disciplinary action on transcript, requirement for offenders to be certified fit before returning to campus after suspension and a no-contact protocol between victim and offender. 

Security measures such as restroom locks, more close-circuit cameras, additional security officers in hostels as well as roving security patrols will also be deployed in June, as will first responder training for staff and students. 

Also to be implemented is "the University's tougher stance on sexual misconduct", "complemented by greater support victims", said Prof Tan. 

READ: 12 NUS students would have been expelled if new, tougher sanctions for sexual misconduct were in place

READ: "Change has finally come" - Monica Baey on NUS handling of sexual misconduct cases

This will be reflected in enhancements to the disciplinary process, which will take effect Jul 1. These "include an avenue for victims to request for a review of Board of Discipline (BOD) and/or Disciplinary Appeals Board outcomes in exceptional circumstances, such as when new evidence comes to light", he said. 

The composition of the BOD will also be reviewed to ensure adequate gender balance. 

Prof Tan noted that for past cases, the university "commits to ensuring that victims get dedicated support they need, until care is no longer required, and making necessary arrangements that will support the recovery process". 

Earlier in June, the review committee had recommended that past cases on which the BOD had formally ruled and for which sanctions have been meted out cannot be reopened. 

In his letter, the university president highlighted that NUS' sanctions and disciplinary frameworks are "separate from, and in addition to, any criminal proceedings brought by law enforcement led by the Police". 

"The fact that a student is brought before the NUS Board of Discipline and receives sanctions has no effect on the investigation, sentencing and punishment by the Police and the Courts of Singapore. 

"Together, these will serve as a strong deterrent against future offences and ensure the safety of the NUS community," he said. 

Following the review committee's support for the establishment of a victim care unit, Prof Tan announced that the unit will be launched in end-August. 

It will be headed by a psychologist and have an advisory board comprising experts in the fields of law, social work and psychological medicine to "ensure the unit can discharge its duties to support victims and offer personalised continuity of care", he said. 

Prof Tan also confirmed that the compulsory module on Respect and Consent Culture would launch in August, as well as a website with information and resources for victims of sexual misconduct. 

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