NUS to boost support for victims of sex misconduct
Through various channels over the last few months, students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) made themselves heard, calling for greater support for victims of sexual misconduct and better security, and the institution listened.
Yesterday, NUS said it accepted the recommendations by its review committee and will be enhancing its support system for victims of sexual misconduct.
It will be improving its security and infrastructure, and educating staff and students on respect and consent.
It will also improve rehabilitation for offenders.
Mr Richard Wang, deputy student life secretary from the NUS Students' Union and a member of the review committee, said the recommendations will better protect the well-being of the entire community.
He added: "The enhanced victim support system will ensure that victims know their rights under the law and NUS codes of conduct and other relevant policies and will support victims in making a police report should they choose to do so."
As part of its new disciplinary framework for sexual misconduct, a no-contact protocol will be implemented at NUS to ensure the victim and offender do not come into contact with each other.
This means they will not be in the same class and will also not be in similar non-academic programmes.
Victims will also have a greater voice in the disciplinary process, and they will receive more support.
A statement of facts from the victim is required for the Board of Discipline (BOD) to proceed, and the victim may choose to appear before the BOD to clarify statements.
Previously, only the offender could appeal following a decision, but this will now be extended to victims as well.
A newly set up Victim Care Unit will serve as the point of contact for victims and it will be staffed by trained care officers.
These officers will help victims navigate the support network and address their needs.
Steps will also be taken to rehabilitate offenders, but they will be allowed to return to school only when certified fit by counsellors or medical professionals.
A staff member will also be dedicated to ensure they comply with sanctions.
Campus security and infrastructure is being improved, with at least 300 new closed-circuit TV cameras to be installed by the end of the month, and more than 860 shower cubicles to be upgraded by October.
Other initiatives include mandatory modules on respect and consent for all staff and students, training for first responders and workshops and outreach programmes to raise awareness on sexual misconduct.
Recommendations accepted by NUS
Tougher penalties for sexual misconduct
- Minimum one-year suspension for serious offences, and immediate expulsion for severe or aggravated offences
- Suspension cannot be removed by the Board of Discipline (BOD) or Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB)
- For at least three years after graduation, a notation on all transcripts of offenders stating length of suspension
- Offenders must be certified fit by counsellor or medical professional before being allowed back to school
- No-contact protocol between victim and offender
Greater voice for victims in disciplinary process
- Victims to be updated on proceedings
- Victims will file a statement of facts before BOD hearing and will also file an impact statement
- They will be accompanied by a care officer at the hearing and may appear before the BOD to provide clarifications
- Victims may also request a review of the decisions by the BOD and DAB in exceptional circumstances
Greater empathy, support for victims
- Care officers appointed to each victim to help deal with law enforcement, provide support through disciplinary process, and link up with other support units across NUS
Clear timeline for disciplinary process, streamlining of entities involved
- Indicative timeline outlining each stage of the disciplinary process
- Number of NUS units involved in process to be streamlined
Enhanced victim support framework, network
- Establishment of a Victim Care Unit staffed by trained and experienced officers
- Dedicated website to be set up to provide information for victims
Rehabilitation of offenders
- Dedicated staff to advise offenders who may need support in areas such as mental health
- Staff will also ensure offenders serve out sanctions, undergo rehabilitation and are certified fit before being allowed to return
Education on respect, consent
- Mandatory modules on respect and consent for all students and staff, first responder training, outreach and workshops raising awareness on sexual misconduct
Improved campus security, infrastructure
- Increasing number of security guards and introduction of roving patrols
- More than 300 CCTV cameras to be installed by end of month, and more than 800 cubicles to be upgraded by October.
No review of past disciplinary cases
- Past cases that have already been dealt with will not be reopened
Commitment to ongoing review
- Sanctions and victim support framework to be reviewed every two years