NUS president says new sanctions against sexual misconduct are separate and in addition to criminal proceedings

NUS said it will adopt a tougher stance on sexual misconduct, with enhanced support for victims that will be reflected in improvements to its disciplinary process.
The Straits Times

The president of the National University of Singapore (NUS) has announced new details pertaining to the university’s plan for “full implementation” of recommendations submitted earlier this week by its Review Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

In a letter released to NUS students, staff and alumni on Thursday (June 13), the university’s president, Professor Tan Eng Chye, said that the recommendations – which were submitted to the Board of Trustees on June 10 – were studied in detail and a full implementation plan has already been developed.

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He added that the plan includes steps to integrate the recommendations with current measures undertaken by NUS to enhance the safety of its campuses for its 39,000 students and 12,000 staff. The implementation will be overseen by the provost, he said.

In his letter, Prof Tan said that the sanctions introduced by NUS and its disciplinary frameworks will work separately from, but in addition to, any criminal proceedings by law enforcement led by the Police.

“The fact that a student is brought before the NUS Board of Discipline 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,” he wrote.

He also said that the university will adopt a tougher stance on sexual misconduct, which will be complemented by greater support for victims that will be reflected in improvements to its disciplinary process.

Such enhancements include an avenue for victims to request for a review of Board of Discipline and/or Disciplinary Appeals Board outcomes in exceptional cases such as when new evidence is presented.

With respect to the date of implementation, the new measures include:

June 2019

  • A new sanctions framework that will take effect on June 13;
  • Training for first responders, frontline staff and students; and
  • Security measures including secure shower cubicles (to be introduced in phases until October), restroom locks, additional closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and security officers in hostels as well as roving security patrols.

July 2019

A new disciplinary process will take effect on July 1.

August 2019

  • Launch of the Victim Care Unit in end-August that will be headed by a psychologist and have an advisory board comprising experts in law, social work and psychological medicine;
  • A website containing information and resources for victims of sexual misconduct; and
  • A compulsory module on “respect and consent culture” for all students and staff.

As the implementation and enforcement are ongoing, NUS also said it will continue to engage on the effectiveness of the changes.

National University of Singapore

NUS has also pledged its commitment to ensuring that victims receive dedicated support until care “is no longer required”, while making necessary arrangements to support the recovery process, Prof Tan said.

He added: “The new measures mark an important starting point in an ongoing effort to improve not only our systems but also our culture. We will continue to engage students, staff and alumni to understand the efficacy of the new measures and how we might do even better.”

In his letter, Prof Tan also shared findings from an online survey which was open to all undergraduate and graduate students between May 16 and 26 . The survey – which received 5,200 responses – found that students deemed severity and pattern of behaviour as key factors for determining sanctions. An overwhelming majority of 96 per cent also said a website on sexual misconduct was needed at the university.

National University of Singapore

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