- The current policy allows first-time offenders to avoid expulsion, as NUS wants to “give the students a chance”.
- Facebook/National University of Singapore
Education minister Ong Ye Kung criticised NUS’ ‘two strikes and you’re out’ sexual misconduct policy in a Facebook post on Monday (April 22).
The policy means first-time offenders are punished, but not expelled, as the university wants to “give the students a chance”.
The issue went viral on social media after student Monica Baey posted several Instagram stories last week about being filmed while showering in a hostel toilet. NUS punished the peeping tom with a one-semester suspension and compulsory counselling.
The university has promised to review its sexual misconduct policies “swiftly and decisively.”
After education minister Ong Ye Kung took to Facebook to criticise the punishment meted out to a man who filmed a woman showering in an NUS student hostel, the university has announced that it will be reviewing its sexual misconduct policy, which currently allows first-time offenders to avoid expulsion.
The minister said on Monday (April 22) that he had spoken to the university president and the chairman of its board to convey concerns that penalties meted out by NUS to the perpetrator: a one-term suspension, an entry ban to the hostel, an apology letter, and counselling – were “manifestly inadequate”.
“Two strikes and you are out cannot be the standard application,” he added.
The minister’s comments come days after the 23-year-old victim, NUS communications and new media undergraduate Monica Baey, posted a series of Instagram stories on April 19 detailing her frustrations with the apparently light penalty and demanding the university dole out “real consequences” to deter potential offenders.
Baey added that she wanted the university to “delineate clear campus policies that protect students against any form of misconduct”.
- Instagram/Monica Baey
Baey told The Straits Times (ST) that she was taking a shower in NUS’ Eusoff Hall on Nov 25, 2018 when she noticed an iPhone held underneath the stall door.
CCTV footage showed a man trying to to enter different toilets to look for a victim to film, and police found a video of Baey showering on his mobile phone, she wrote on Instagram.
However, the man – a friend of Baey’s and a former hostel resident – only received a 12-month conditional warning from the police. Baey added that the investigating officer in charge of her case had asked her to “push for action” from NUS if she wanted a more severe punishment.
- Instagram/Monica Baey
First-time offenders of sexual misconduct taking place in NUS are punished but not expelled. However, those involved in sexual misconduct incidents outside NUS are immediately expelled.
“Because we are an educational institution, we want to give the students a chance,” ST reported NUS vice-provost (student life) Florence Ling as saying.
Baey’s Instagram post went viral on social media, and even sparked two online petitions totalling over 46,000 signatures. One of the petitions called for changes to NUS’ “archaic system of law” in dealing with sexual misconduct.
On April 20, NUS apologised for Baey’s “distressing experience” and said it would convene a committee to review its disciplinary frameworks.
Several hours after Minister Ong’s post on April 22, the university added that it would include the “second strike and you are out” policy in its review.
It also announced that it was holding a meeting to gather feedback from students and staff about sexual misconduct on campus.
In a separate statement, NUS’ Board of Trustees said it viewed sexual misconduct on campus with “grave concern”, and noting the strong public interest in the matter, promised the committee would “proceed swiftly and decisively.”