Monica Baey calls for special office on sex assaults in NUS
NUS tells townhall it will set up victim support unit and take a tougher stand against sexual misconduct
The woman at the centre of the sexual misconduct storm in the National University of Singapore (NUS) has called for it to set up a separate office to handle sexual assault cases.
Speaking at yesterday's townhall in NUS, Miss Monica Baey, 23, said the office should have a 24-hour hotline and provide emotional and administrative support to victims.
The third-year communications and new media student also urged NUS to consider suspensions for up to two years for sex offenders, and to detail the offences in their student record.
Miss Baey, who was illegally filmed while showering in a residential hall by a male student last November, also suggested "no-contact conditions" between victims and perpetrators.
Chemical engineering student Nicholas Lim, 23, who admitted to filming her, was given a year's conditional warning by the police.
NUS suspended him for a semester and banned him from all residence halls. He was also given 30 hours of supervised community service, and ordered to go for mandatory counselling and to apologise to Miss Baey.
Thinking that he had got off lightly, she took to social media to state her grievances.
The subsequent outcry in and outside NUS prompted yesterday's townhall to address the concerns of students and staff.
Led by NUS vice-provost (student life) Florence Ling, Dean of Students Associate Professor Peter Pang, and Ms Celestine Chua from the University Counselling Services, it was attended by about 600 students, some of whom had to spill into a second auditorium to watch a live-stream.
Ms Baey, who was in Taiwan on an exchange programme, flew back to speak at the townhall.
Feeling that NUS had mishandled her situation at various stages of the investigation, she described the lack of support from the school, such as having to deal with the police on her own when reporting the shower incident.
"My first statement was taken by a male officer, which I understand is the case in night-time cases. I can't imagine how victims of more serious sexual assaults would feel," she said.
Lamenting the lack of communication through the disciplinary process, she said she was given "incomplete information", and follow-ups with university staff were done over the phone instead of face to face.
Apologising for NUS' shortcomings, Prof Ling said victims like Ms Baey should not have been "made to walk alone and (be) wondering what is happening".
"I can feel that we have failed you. I really, sincerely, say I am sorry," she added.
Prof Ling also said the university will set up a victim support unit, improve campus security and take a tougher stand against sexual misconduct.
Earlier this week, NUS said it will set up a committee to review its disciplinary and support frameworks.
On whether NUS would adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy on sexual assault cases to send a message that it takes such cases seriously, Prof Ling and Prof Pang said the university would have to wait for the review committee's decision.
Several students, including victims of sexual misconduct who related their experiences, raised issues such as sexual harassment and lax security in the halls.
A student said the "two-strikes policy" of expelling a sex offender only after a second offence - had not been enforced as there had been multiple repeat incidents without expulsions.
Students also urged the university to be more transparent about sexual misconduct cases.
Some students who were at the town hall told The New Paper that some responses from the NUS management were bureaucratic, and questions and feedback were often referred to the review committee to consider.
Ms Inez Yuen, 23, said: "I think the responses were largely superfluous. None of the speakers seemed appropriately equipped with the experience and knowledge to answer our questions."
However, she added that the town hall had been a good platform for students to voice their grievances as there were a lot of voices that were demanding to be heard.
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