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71 sexual misconduct complaints involving students in past 5 years: NUS

71 sexual misconduct complaints involving students in past 5 years: NUS

A sign of the National University of Singapore is displayed at the campus entrance, Aug 7, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Catherine Lai)

SINGAPORE: A total of 71 sexual misconduct complaints involving students were made to the National University of Singapore (NUS) in the past few years.

About a third of these complaints, or 24 incidents, involved verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature, NUS said in its first report on sexual misconduct which was sent to students and staff members on Wednesday (Jan 6).

The report covered complaints made between 2016 and 2020 involving students and staff members.

Eighteen complaints were linked to voyeurism while six were related to taking upskirt photographs or videos.

Five were classified under sexual assault. 

Two reports were made regarding rape where the victims alleged that they had non-consensual sex, said NUS, adding that no further action was taken following investigations by the university and the police.

Other categories in the report included indecent exposure, making unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favours, as well as disseminating sexual or intimate information about the victim.

The university previously said it will release a sexual misconduct report every six months, as part of efforts to raise awareness of the issue after a spate of cases.

READ: NUS student charged with filming women showering in UTown hostel

During the five-year period, the higher number of complaints - 25 - were lodged in 2019. A majority of these were made after a townhall meeting on sexual misconduct held in April that year, said NUS. 

The townhall meeting had been convened in the wake of a sexual misconduct incident involving former NUS student Monica Baey, who had taken to social media in April 2019 to call for tougher action against a student who filmed her having a shower at her hostel

12 COMPLAINTS MADE IN 2020

NUS said in its report that it received 12 sexual misconduct complaints last year. Seven cases took place on campus while the rest occurred either off campus or online.

In one case reported in March last year, a male student trespassed into the female toilets at a student hostel multiple times over a span of a few months. He was found to have committed voyeurism by installing two pin-hole cameras disguised as smoke detectors in the shower cubicles.

The student was suspended and later expelled after his case was adjudicated by the university’s Board of Discipline, sad NUS.

READ: NUS student who trespassed into hostel rooms to steal women's lingerie gets jail

In a separate case reported in February last year, a male student trespassed into multiple female rooms in a student hostel to steal their undergarments. He also masturbated on some of the stolen items.

The student was suspended for six semesters and referred for assessment and treatment of his psychiatric condition. He was also barred from campus and received an official letter of reprimand.

Of the 12 complaints made in 2020, five were adjudicated by the university’s Board of Discipline while five others are pending investigation. One case was referred to the Faculty for disciplinary action while no further action was taken for the remaining case due to insufficient evidence.

Nine of these cases were reported to the police, said the university.

NUS noted in its report that it is required by law to report any arrestable offence listed.

19 COMPLAINTS INVOLVING NUS STAFF MEMBERS

NUS said it also received 19 complaints of sexual misconduct involving staff members between 2016 and 2020. A majority of these involved verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature or unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favours.

In one case reported in March last year, a male undergraduate lodged a complaint against a lecturer for inappropriate behaviour.

The victim alleged that the lecturer was seeking a personal relationship with him and had inappropriately advised him to watch pornography as a “remedy for his insomnia”, said NUS. The lecturer was fired following investigations.

In its report, NUS also detailed the investigation process in which it handles cases. It includes arranging for support for the victim and the accused, conducting interviews and providing updates.

READ: NUS dismisses professor over sexual harassment of student

NUS said that building a culture of respect is a top priority and that it is taking a “holistic approach” towards addressing sexual misconduct.

“We recognise the importance of raising awareness in the NUS community, enhancing infrastructure for better campus safety, instituting a strict framework for disciplinary sanctions, and offering comprehensive victim support,” said the university.

As part of initiatives to build a culture of respect and consent, NUS said all students staying on campus have completed a respect and consent module which comprised a face-to-face workshop and online component.

NUS said refresher courses will also be introduced to reinforce the ongoing training programme.

“No student or staff should suffer in silence. NUS will continue to strive to provide a safe and conducive platform for affected parties to verbalise and share their experiences and come forward in confidence,” the university added. 

Source: CNA/zl(gs)

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