NUS Students’ Union to consider if ‘heavier punishments’ are needed for sex harassment cases
SINGAPORE: The executive committee (Exco) of the National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU) said it is in the process of considering if there should be heavier punishments in cases of sexual harassment on campus.
This comes after undergraduate Ms Monica Baey revealed in a series of public Instagram Stories on Friday (Apr 19) that she had caught a student filming her with a mobile phone while she was in a hostel shower.
She called for tougher action against the student, adding that the man had been given a 12-month conditional warning by police.
NUS said it would convene a committee to review its current disciplinary and support frameworks.
In a statement released on Facebook, the NUSSU committee said: “NUSSU Exco is in the process of considering whether for future cases, as a matter of general policy against sexual harassment, there should be heavier punishments as a matter of deterrence, and for retributive justice for victims.”
It added that it was drafting a report on whether existing sentencing guidelines should be revised, while “considering other processes”.
READ: NUS to convene review committee after undergrad calls for 'justice' against man who filmed her in shower
It said it condemned any form of sexual harassment, calling it “a serious community problem that everyone has a responsibility in handling”.
The committee also urged victims of sexual harassment to report cases to NUS, and that students should alert the students’ union if they have been told not to report such matters.
“NUSSU Exco also recognises, that as opposed to a criminal court, that rehabilitation is an extremely strong principle in how student offenders are treated in the Board of Discipline, given that NUS is an educational institution,” the Exco wrote.
“NUSSU Exco also notes that the Board of Discipline had acted in accordance with existing precedent and due process, and respects that the decision by the board was arrived at in good faith.”
CALL FOR ‘REAL ACTION’
Ms Baey said she had filed a police report after the incident in November last year. CCTV footage of the suspect, as well as the actual video recording of her, were submitted to the police.
"The outcome of the entire investigation was a 12-month conditional warning," Ms Baey wrote, adding the suspect would only get "an actual punishment" if he re-offended in the coming year.
Ms Baey said she tried to appeal for a heavier sentence, but was told by the investigating officer "you just have to accept the outcome" or "go to NUS and push for action".
She said she has been “seriously distressed” by the incident and that her mental health had suffered badly.
“I live in fear. I need to know you will take real action and let the rest of the school know that what happened is wrong and will not be tolerated. You need to protect us! This keeps happening!" wrote Ms Baey, appearing to address the university.
She also shared an apology letter, which was signed by the perpetrator.
INCREASED AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
The students’ union committee said the university should review how it provides support for victims, and called for greater transparency and education on how sexual harassment cases are dealt with at the university.
It also wants increased awareness and education of sexual harassment on campus, while “improving the culture” of reporting such cases in NUS.
“NUSSU Exco also stresses that all members of NUS have a role to play in creating a culture where sexual harassment is not acceptable,” the statement read.
“This is not the sole responsibility of the administration, and NUSSU Exco encourages students to play their part in ensuring that we create an empowering, safe and trusting environment for all.”