Victims of sex offences in NUS to have more say
They can now file an impact statement and appear at disciplinary hearings
Victims of sexual misconduct will get a greater voice and more involvement in a new disciplinary process in the National University of Singapore (NUS).
It is part of the tougher regime on sexual misconduct that came into effect at the university yesterday.
Offenders now face a minimum one-year suspension for serious offences and expulsion for severe or aggravated forms of sexual misconduct under the new sanctions, as recommended by a review committee and accepted by NUS on Monday.
Under the enhanced disciplinary process, due to take effect on July 1, the victim will file a statement of facts and an impact statement, which will be given to the Board of Discipline (BOD).
Victims can also appear before the BOD to provide clarifications on the statement and can be accompanied by a care officer at the hearing.
In exceptional circumstances, they will also have an avenue to request for a review of the outcomes meted out by the BOD or the Disciplinary Appeals Board.
In the existing process, a victim statement is not required, the victim is not kept up to date on the proceedings and is only informed of the outcome over the phone.
The BOD is chaired by the dean of students or a vice-provost and will include two members from the Senate and two selected students.
Its composition will be reviewed from time to time to ensure adequate gender balance.
The review followed a complaint by NUS student Monica Baey on social media that a male student who filmed her showering in a residential hall had got off lightly.
In an e-mail to students, staff and alumni yesterday, NUS president Tan Eng Chye said the tougher sanctions and disciplinary frameworks are separate from, and in addition to, any criminal proceedings brought by law enforcement.
He added: "The fact that a student is brought before the NUS BOD and receives sanctions has no effect on the investigation, sentencing and punishment by the police and the courts of Singapore.
"Together, these will serve as a strong deterrent against future offences and ensure the safety of the NUS community."
Professor Tan also set out the timeline for implementing campus safety measures, which NUS provost Ho Teck Hua will oversee.
The measures, some of which are already in place, are due to be completed by October.
He said: "The new measures mark an important starting point in an ongoing effort to improve not only our systems but also our culture."
Among the security measures are new restroom locks in hostels and 300 new closed-circuit TV cameras.
Additional security officers in the hostels and roving security patrols across campus will be in place by the end of this month.There will be training and workshops for 200 first responders including campus security officers, masters, resident fellows and resident advisers.
Its 39,000 student population and 12,000 academic, research and administrative staff must also attend workshops on Respect and Consent Culture.
A victim care unit will be set up by August, along with a new website containing information and resources on sexual misconduct.
By October, 860 shower cubicles in hostels and sports facilities will be upgraded with new safety and privacy features.
The university also released results of a survey it conducted in May to seek student views on sexual misconduct, victim support, disciplinary framework and campus security.
More than 5,200 students, 51 per cent of them women, took the survey.
The majority felt strongly that victims should have more say in the disciplinary process.
About 86 per cent felt victims should have the right to appeal against decisions on sentencing and sanctions.
More than 70 per cent felt victims should be provided with legal advice, counselling and a no-contact protocol or restraining order on the alleged offender.
Prof Tan said the review committee took into consideration the survey findings when making its recommendations.
Business student Jewel Ng, 19, said: "Each case has to be treated with empathy and not as 'just another case'.
"I am heartened the survey responses have been put into good use for the implementation of effective frameworks."