Yes, it’s NUS again, but this time, it’s not another case of a guy who thinks with the wrong head.
Instead, the school decided to do more thinking with the correct head.
On Thursday (17 December), new measures were revealed in an email circulated to all NUS staff and students. In the email, NUS president Tan Eng Chye explains these measures, and the aim is to strengthen the university’s processes of handling any sexual misconduct cases.
Like what a wise man once said: better to be late than never.
One of these measures includes the training of bystanders and staff. These measures will gradually be implemented over the next few months.
There are also plans to develop a sexual misconduct policy, which will apply to staff and students. In a step towards keeping the community informed, they will also provide the NUS community with a report on sexual misconduct cases involving staff and/or students every six months. Facts of each case will be redacted to safeguard the identities of victims involved.
There will soon be refresher courses for staff and students to reinforce respect and consent, and are also currently exploring bystander training. Through this, they wish to emphasise the importance of bystanders in spotting sexual misconduct and how to take appropriate action.
The Victim Care Unit, currently supporting students, will be renamed to the NUS Care Unit. The unit will be given more resources to extend their support to NUS staff by the second quarter of 2021.
Improved Internal Processes
The university has tightened its internal processes, according to Prof Tan. This will ensure that it will complete any reporting of arrestable offences to the police within 2 weeks once relevant groups of authority have concluded their investigations.
If circumstances warrant it, police reports will also be filed.
Under Section 424 of the Criminal Procedure Code, NUS must report any arrestable offence, and these offences include voyeurism, outrage of modesty and rape.
A committee has also been set up to look at the sexual misconduct of staff, though they will share more about this in a later date.
NUS will also actively share relevant information about any allegations or findings with the university community. Being more open and transparent with cases like this is critical in building trust and a respectful culture on campus. Prof Tan reassured that the identities and well-being of victims will be protected.
He also said that the university is seeing more individuals stepping forward to file reports when needed. Though this may not reflect well on its image, Prof Tan feels that it is a good thing that people are stepping forward. This shows a certain level of trust that individuals put into the university.
Recap of Events
NUS has been in the spotlight on several occasions this year, all involving sexual misconduct cases from their staff members.
On 7 October, Dr Jeremy Fernando was dismissed after the university had received two allegations against him for behaving inappropriately as a teaching staff.
On 17 November, a former director of NUS’ East Asian Institute (EAI) behaved inappropriately by hugging a subordinate without her consent at a work meeting. In fact, several allegations against him surfaced soon after.
He then left the university, though he claims that it has nothing to do with the allegations. The outcome of its internal review was recorded in its staff records.
Just recently on 1 December, Professor Theodore G. Hopf, the provost chair professor of the department of political science in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), was dismissed for sexual misconduct against a student. He had sexually harassed the victim “in physical, verbal and written forms”.
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