NUS gets tough on sexual misconduct
Review committee recommends that students making sexual innuendos be suspended for a year, those revealing details of sexual encounters be expelled
National University of Singapore (NUS) students who make sexual innuendoes can face mandatory suspension of at least a year.
Repeat and recalcitrant offenders may face expulsion.
Anyone who posts intimate details of sexual trysts with another person on social media will be expelled.
The enhanced penalties were part of 10 recommendations made by an NUS committee set up to review sexual misconduct and address gaps in victim support, offender rehabilitation, penalties and campus security.
The university has accepted all 10 recommendations, and NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye is expected to announce implementation of the new framework later this week.
In a 28-page report shared with students yesterday, the committee noted the sexual misconduct situation was not improving, and that universities around the world were enhancing their frameworks to tackle the alarming trend.
The committee was set up in April following public outcry over the Monica Baey incident.
The NUS student protested on social media against what she felt was inadequate punishment for a male student who had secretly filmed her in the shower in a residential hall last year.
The police gave him a year's conditional warning while NUS suspended him for a semester, banned him, told him to give Miss Baey a written apology, and to undergo counselling.
Miss Baey and other students also called for greater emotional and administrative support for sexual misconduct victims.
Under the new framework, offenders dealt with by the Board of Discipline (BOD) will be suspended for at least a year.
The suspension is mandatory and cannot be removed even by the Disciplinary Appeals Board.
The new sanctions cover offences in two broad categories.
The first include unwanted sexual advances, voyeurism, sexual harassment and indecent exposure.
They are punishable with a minimum one-year suspension if there are compelling mitigating factors such as admission of guilt during investigations or acute stress factors.
In cases with no mitigating factors or more than one instance of offending, the suspension can be raised to two years.
Offenders under this category will be expelled immediately if they commit other sexual offences after being sanctioned or breach any sanction.
The second category covers severe or aggravated sexual misconduct, which includes rape, molest, possession of child pornography, threats and circulation of sexual or intimate information about another person.
Offenders will be expelled immediately, regardless of mitigation.
However, the NUS Provost has the discretion to have a complaint handled by the head of a unit instead of the BOD, in which case the mandatory sanctions do not apply.
Mr Richard Wang, 24, deputy student life secretary in the NUS Students' Union who sat on the review committee, said the heavier sanctions will serve as a strong deterrent to students and send a strong message that NUS does not tolerate sexual misconduct.
"For deterrence to be effective, we need strong sanctions and disciplinary frameworks," he said.
"NUS must not downplay the seriousness of the offences."
Offenders will have a note stating the length of their suspension on their transcripts for a minimum of three years after graduation.
On top of the mandatory sanctions, the BOD may impose any of the other existing sanctions, including community service, a ban from housing premises and a letter of reprimand.
NUS students generally welcomed the new measures and are optimistic that sexual misconduct will be better dealt with from now on.
NUS board of trustees chairman Hsieh Fu Hua said the board was grateful for the committee's recommendations and will conduct a follow-up review of the disciplinary and support frameworks every two years.
"We feel that the recommendations are informed, balanced and robust," Mr Hsieh said.
"It reflects our community's common desire for tougher penalties for offenders and greater support for victims, and for fostering an enduring culture of respect and support on campus."
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung thanked the committee for their hard work in a Facebook post yesterday.
"The other institutes of higher learning are also conducting their reviews, and the Ministry of Education will continue to work with them to help ensure a safe and supportive environment for our students," he said.
"It has been a difficult period for the NUS community, but by taking swift and decisive action, NUS will emerge stronger and better."