Sunday 21 April 2019

Sent to NUS students: [NUSSU EXCO] Statement on Sexual Harassment in NUS

My daughter, an NUS student, received this e-mail this morning:

Dear Students,

NUSSU Exco expresses its condemnation of any form of sexual harassment, which is a serious community problem that everyone has a responsibility in handling. NUSSU Exco is regretful that Ms Monica Baey, and other victims of sexual harassment, have had to go through such traumatic experiences as an NUS student.

NUSSU Exco strongly encourages any victim of sexual harassment to report to NUS, and is willing to assist students in helping report such matters to NUS. Students who know of such victims are encouraged to provide social support and help them seek professional support if necessary.

Students who are told to not report such matters, or are not comfortable with approaching NUS directly, should alert and contact NUSSU Exco at NUSSU Exco is currently in the process of clarifying who had told Ms Baey that she should not report the matter.

However, justice needs to consider both the victim and the perpetrator, and needs to be proportionate. While the discussion on the issue of sexual harassment and this particular case is important and welcome, NUSSU Exco also strongly urges fellow students to not harass Mr Nicholas Lim and his family.

NUSSU Exco notes that in this particular case, the Board had ordered the following:

  • One semesters’ suspension;
  • Ban from entering into all on-campus housing premises;
  • Mandatory counselling sessions at University Health Centre;
  • Community-based sanctions of 30 hours of supervised community service;
  • Mandatory rehabilitation and reconciliation sessions with a social worker;
  • Writing a mandatory letter of apology; and
  • Official letter of reprimand

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. 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.

However, 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.

Furthermore, NUSSU Exco stresses that punishment is only one aspect of how NUS should deal with sexual harassment, and that this episode highlights how NUS policy with respect to sexual harassment could be reviewed in various areas. These include:

  • Increasing awareness and education of sexual harassment on campus, as a preventive policy;
  • Improving social-psychological support for victims of sexual harassment;
  • Greater transparency and education on how sexual harassment cases are dealt with in NUS; and
  • Improving the culture of reporting sexual harassment in NUS, to create a safer environment for reporting harassment.

NUSSU Exco also stresses that all members of NUS have a role to play in creating a culture where sexual harassment is not acceptable. 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.

NUSSU Exco recognises that NUS takes sexual harassment very seriously, and appreciates that it is continuing such a stance and policy. NUSSU Exco notes that NUS has recently conducted the following:

  • Review of the code of student conduct, with extensive revisions to the provisions on sexual misconduct; and
  • Education of campus security investigation officers and board of discipline members on how to sensitively handle sexual harassment cases.

NUSSU Exco takes issues of sexual harassment seriously, and notes that there is currently a proposal being mooted in NUSSU Council with respect to conducting a survey regarding sexual harassment in NUS.

In light of this incident, NUSSU Exco is currently conceiving an action plan to better address issues of sexual harassment. This includes the drafting of a report by NUSSU Exco on whether existing sentencing guidelines should be revised, whilst considering other processes.

NUSSU Exco will continue to work closely with NUS in making the campus a safe and secure environment for all our students. NUSSU Exco also notes that NUS President is to convene a Committee to review disciplinary and support frameworks in NUS. NUSSU Exco is confident that the Committee and the administration will continuously engage with students, to create a safer environment that everyone has confidence in.

Students who have any feedback on this matter can contact NUSSU Exco via email at NUSSU Exco welcomes and encourages students to continue to make their views known through official channels, such that the NUS administration and NUSSU Exco can act accordingly.

It was also posted on the NUSSU Facebook page:

This follows an earlier NUS statement yesterday:

There are at least two online petitions regarding this case, We want Singapore police to reopen Monica Baey’s case! and Stiffer Punishment For Nicholas Lim Jun Kai.

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