If you don’t know why we’re talking about this, congratulations on your prolonged abstinence from the Internet. You may now search up Monica Baey on Google and update yourself on the original incident as well as the responses from the school authorities and student body.
This was a case of sexual misconduct that blew up online and in the end served as the catalyst for the change.
Flaws in the Old Measures
In the case mentioned, the perpetrator was issued a 12-month conditional warning by the police that dictates he be charged for the original offence (and the new crime) if he commits the same crime within the 12 months.
NUS also rolled out their own measures:
- Made him write a compulsory apology letter.
- Mandatory counselling.
- Not allowed in the dorms anymore.
- Gave him a one-semester suspension.
The Board of Discipline (BOD) then reviewed that they previously “emphasised offender rehabilitation, rather than punishment and deterrence”, which lead to “the sanctions imposed were less stringent than those recommended in the guidelines.”
As a result, the victims did not receive enough support and their ordeals weren’t respected. They also didn’t have much say in the proceedings, nor were they kept in the loop of things, only updated of the result over the phone.
The Internet got angry, reforms were made, and with that in mind…
The New Measures
These focus on raising the deterrence for sexual misconduct and increasing victim support.
Firstly, harsher punishments for more effective deterrence:
According to Channel NewsAsia: “Sanctions recommended by the committee includes a minimum one-year suspension that the BOD or appeals board cannot override, and mandatory expulsion for more severe cases – including multiple cases of sexual misconduct with no mitigating factors.”
With these new punishments, twelve students would have been expelled if they’ve committed their offences post-Monica-Baey.
Offenders will also have a notation of the length of their suspension on their academic transcripts…which prospective employers can see.
Then, increased victim voice and support:
Victims will be kept up to date on proceedings, as well as having more say through the provision of a statement of facts and impact statement before proceedings.
Currently, the discipline board can begin proceedings without the victim’s statement of facts (case in point: Monica).
Now, it is largely mandatory. As the committee said: “To ensure that the victim’s voice is always considered, the committee recommends that the victim’s statement be a requirement for the BOD to proceed, unless the victim specifically decides against providing a statement.”
With that, other related documents like impact statements and medical reports can also be submitted.
Victims can now also make an appeal to the Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB); previously only offenders could.
According to Channel NewsAsia:
“To guard against reoffending, offenders must also be certified fit by a counsellor and/or medical professional before they are allowed to return to campus after suspension. A “no-contact protocol” would also be established.”
The no-contact protocol includes making sure the victim and offender do not take the same classes or non-academic programmes.
There are also plans for a new compulsory module, Respect and Consent Culture, beginning in the 2019/2020 academic year, though some think this is futile.
Still, it’s more of an added measure to complement the main punitive ones so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Kind of reminds you of 好公民 in primary school.
What To Do If You’re a Victim
Past cases will not be reopened, but things will be better from here on out.
To current and potential undergraduates, if anything is amiss do speak up.
The committee said all complaints or allegations will be considered a possible serious offence and must be referred to the Provost, who will then decide which allegation will be looked at by the BOD or, for single incidents, the head of an academic or non-academic unit.
And also, if there’s one person to thank for, thank Monica Baey.
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