SINGAPORE: Students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have urged the school to take responsibility for the cases of sexual misconduct that occurs at its university.
They spoke at the City Hall to collect feedback and listen to their concerns about such cases and discuss how the university could further strengthen its disciplinary and supportive frameworks.
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The session was addressed by Deputy Rector (Student Life) Florens Ling and Dean of Students Peter Pang.
More than 500 students attended the City Hall, which was held in one audience and was broadcast live in another to accommodate the large number of people who appeared.
Some participants criticized NUS's ways of dealing with cases of sexual misconduct, some of them highlighting the 'prosecution's approach'.
The mayoralty came after NUN's student Monica Bai last week turned to social media to call for tougher action against a student who had taken her to take a shower at her hostel.
Following the incident last November, the perpetrator received a 12-month conditional alert from the police, suspended from the university for one semester, and forbidden to enter all the living quarters at the university. In addition, he was ordered to go to compulsory counseling sessions, complete 30 hours of community service, and write a letter of apology.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday that NUS's punishments in Mrs Baey's case are "clearly insufficient".
On Tuesday, NUS President Tan Eng Chee apologized to university graduates, saying the school regretted that Ms. Bai had to put social media in fear for the university to pay attention and that she "failed" provide support from the beginning.
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Lack of transparency
The students who asked how they can hold NUS responsibility were redirected to a review committee set up by NUS.
A third-year scholarship student who just wanted to be known as Devny said that NUS is not transparent in its dealings with students.
"We expect NUS transparency and accountability, but we do not get it," she said.
"They continue to resort to excuses by saying" oh, the committee will do that "," the committee will decide this "when they have an interest in gathering our votes and making sure the committee hears that," she said.
Other students also came to share their stories of sexual harassment at college. They accused NUS of wanting to close such cases. One of them collapsed as he shared his story.
Ms. Baey, who also visits the City Hall and shares feedback, said there was no support for victims and poor communication from NUS. She said she was left alone to talk to a male officer about her experience.
Professor Ling apologized to Mrs. Bai and the students.
"I feel we've failed you, and I'm really sorry," she said. She added that NUS would create a care unit for victims and that they would step up educational seminars.
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STUDENTS NOT RIGHT TO THE ROAD CITY HALL WORK
While some students thought it was promising that the leadership was organizing the sessions, others who spoke to CNA after the city government said it was a "disaster".
"In general, it is clear that, in the end, this is a little symbolic on their part. They failed to respond adequately to the root of the problem, "said Limin Chwan, a fourth-year student.
She added that she and her classmates expected management to have more to offer instead of directing questions and feedback to the review committee.
"We expected them to tell us how they want to change culture and make public recognition that these things should be top-down to be sustainable," she said.
She added that they did not look prepared for the "vitriol".
Fourth-year-old Student Political Student Sundaran Kumar also said management should be better prepared.
"We did our homework, they should have," he said.
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Mr. Wang Kai Richard, Deputy Secretary of Student Life at the NUSSU Union of Students, said the subject of the Review Committee was discussed a lot during the mayoralty.
Some students asked why the original committee members announced by NUS on Monday did not attend the mayoralty, and why there are only two student representatives in the committee.
There were also questions about the time limits for the commission to review the current disciplinary frameworks and support frameworks.
Some students also questioned the time spent on the city hall, and requests for a longer session were not met.
Professor Pang said, however, that another mayoralty would be organized, this time with the review committee.
At the end of the session he said, "Our care for the victims is completely inadequate."
He reiterated that centralized care for victims would be created and that security would be enhanced in hostels.