SINGAPORE – Singapore's National University (NUS) on Thursday (April 25th) admitted having failed bachelor Monika Bay, who was filmed by a student while she was bathing in a resident room.
Strongly confident that the university will take a firmer stance against abusive conduct of sexual behavior, its leadership also said that immediate action would be taken to establish a victim support unit and improve security at the university.
During the evening on Thursday night, where there were more than 600 students who had to scatter in a second audience, questions were asked about the two-stroke and you're out-of-university policy that has been criticized since it came to light.
23-year-old Ms. Baie, who has returned from Taiwan where she was on an exchange program, was the first to speak.
She described the lack of support from the university after what had happened and the lack of communication through the disciplinary process.
She said the university had let her deal with the police. Follow-up with university staff was done by phone rather than face-to-face, and even then "incomplete information" was provided.
"My first statement was taken by a male officer who I understand is the case in the night, I can not imagine how victims of more serious sexual violence would feel," she added when the crowd applauded.
Apologizing for the deficiencies, NUS Vice President Florence Ling said victims like Ms. Bai should not be "forced to walk alone and wonder what is happening."
"When you went through the difficulties you faced, the lack of support for the victims to the sanctions, I feel we have failed you. Indeed, I sincerely say I'm sorry," she said. Earlier this week, the university said it would set up a commission to review its disciplinary and supportive frameworks.
Last week, Ms. Bai, a communications student and new media from NMS, headed to Instagram to publish how she was filmed in a shower at Eusoff Hall's studio last November by a student.
A police report was prepared and the police gave the man a conditional warning of 12 months.
NUS also made him write a letter of apology, pass compulsory counseling, forbid him to enter Eusoff Hall and stop him for a semester. Ms. Baey said the sanctions are slapping the wrist.
Her posts began a national debate on whether the NSC should become more stringent than cases of sexual misconduct.
In the city building on Thursday, Ms. Baey urged NUS to set up a separate office to deal with sexual violence, which should provide emotional and administrative support along with a 24-hour hotline.
She also said that NUS should consider stopping for up to two years and that crimes are recorded in the student's records. She also proposed "contactless conditions" between victims and perpetrators.
The City Palace was called upon to deal with the problems of students and staff after the incident, and was led by Professor Ling, Associate Professor Peter Pang, a dean of the students, and Ms Celestine Chua of the University Consulting Services.
They said a victim support unit would be quickly set up.
During the city, students questioned the university's "two-stroke and you're out" policy, which was criticized as it came out in the light, and raised questions like the lack of security in the halls.
There is also a call for the university to be more transparent and open to cases of sexual offenses so that they can serve as a deterrent.
Also read: NUS's policy on cases of sexual misconduct: "The second strike and you are out"
Students applauded several times during the dialogue, especially when students went out to share their own experiences of sexual abuse at the university.
The city building was open only to students and staff.
One student claims he does not think victims should have the right to vote in the sentence, as this suggests that the crime is more serious if the victim is more explicit and added that he hopes the review committee will remain unaffected by public attitudes.
Recognizing that NUS can do better, Professor Pang said: "We recognize that your university has been disappointed. We have not met your expectations. We need to create a safer environment for all of us. We have to take a firmer position.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Reproduction permission required.