Singapore

NUS Review Committee proposes having note on transcript for offenders

University's review committee proposes tougher punishments as part of review of sanctions framework

National University of Singapore (NUS) students found guilty of sexual misconduct may soon have their offences disclosed to potential employers.

The NUS Review Committee informed its staff and students yesterday of its recommendations for tougher punishments.

In the circular seen by The New Paper, the committee said it consulted students and experts during its review of the NUS sanctions framework for sexual misconduct.

A key part of the proposal included a new sanction of a notation on transcripts of sexual misconduct offenders.

This notation will reflect their suspension and be disclosed for internships and employment.

The notation is proposed to remain for an unspecified "period of time" after the offender has graduated.

Other proposed sanctions are a minimum one-calendar-year suspension, expulsion for severe offences and requiring a certificate of rehabilitation from a counsellor or medical professional before the offender may be permitted to return to campus.

The committee, chaired by Madam Kay Kuok, a member of the NUS board of trustees, was set up last month following the public outcry over the Monica Baey incident.

Miss Baey, an NUS student, had taken to social media to protest against what she felt was insufficient punishment for a fellow student who had secretly filmed her in the shower in a residential hall last year.

The male student was given a conditional warning by the police, suspended for a semester, instructed to write Miss Baey an apology, and made to undergo counselling and was banned from entering the hall.

NUS subsequently revealed it has a "second strike and you are out" approach for sexual misconduct cases. The policy was heavily criticised by students and members of the public for being too lenient.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung called it "manifestly inadequate".

NUS students TNP spoke to were divided on whether the notation sanction is effective.

DETERRENCE

First-year pharmacy student Silas New, 21, said: "If anything, Singaporeans are most concerned about their future employment, so this is effective as deterrence."

The notation also gives employers the discretion on whether a second chance should be given, he said.

First-year law student Teo Jun Xiang, 21, said that the punishment was harsh but would only affect offenders looking for their first job.

"It will hurt when you are finding your first job and have to show the transcripts, but afterwards it's probably not that relevant any more," he said.

First-year geography student Goh Rui Ting, 20, said the notation was a short-term measure at preventing sexual misconduct.

"The notation on the transcript has not much use, because the offender can continue offending after graduation," she said.

"There is a need to ensure that the offenders don't repeat their mistakes. Strategies need to be long-term, so that the individual genuinely feels remorse."

The NUS Review Committee, made up of representatives from the NUS Board of Trustees, academic leaders and students, is expected to publish its final report by the middle of next month.

It added it is reviewing a proposal for a Victim Care Unit that will be staffed by trained and experienced officers to support victims.

More students, alumni and experts will be engaged by the committee over the next three weeks. An independent research consultancy has been commissioned to survey all students to gather their views.

Human resource consultant Albert Ng from The Change Associates told TNP he felt the proposed notation sanction was one of "non-forgiveness".

"Transcripts are not mandatory for employment, but are important pieces of documentation. Having such a mark on the transcript lowers the person's chances of getting the job by at least half," he said.

He added that while potential employers do not always demand transcripts, a background check by the human resource department would easily turn up such a notation.

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