National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Monica Baey, who is currently in the limelight for highlighting her case of being filmed by a male student while she was taking a shower in the hostel, said that she is glad with the support that she has been receiving, and hoped that her case will be reopened.
In addition, she also wish that the school will re-examine its disciplinary and support actions for cases of sexual misconduct.
Speaking to TODAY over a phone interview in Taiwan where she’s participating in an exchange programme, Ms Baey said, “My first goal is to get NUS to acknowledge that more things can be done to deal with such misconduct, relook its policies, and possibly reopen my case”.
She also noted that after her story gained national publicity, “numerous” people have reached out to her to share their sexual harassment encounters in educational institutions, “signalling a larger issues at hand”.
One of the first few to speak up on the lack of actions taken by NUS is Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said on Monday (22 April) that the penalties given out to the perpetrator were “manifestly inadequate”. He also urged all universities to review their frameworks when handling cases of sexual misconduct.
Following an investigation, the offender Nicholas Lim was only slapped with a 12-month conditional warning from the police, and one-month suspension from NUS along with an apology letter addressed to Ms Baey.
After his punishment went to the knowledge of the public, thousands of people have showed their support through two petitions on Change,org, which have garnered 41,000 signatures as of 10pm yesterday.
One of the petitions called for a harsher punishment for Mr Lim and it had collected over 30,000 signatures, while the other one asking the police to reopen the case has 11,000.
“Ultimately, it’s not my place to say what punishment perpetrators should receive, but I want to show that this is a serious issue that should be looked into,” said Ms Baey.
However, the 23-year-old student did mention that along with support, she also received negative comments from people who accused her of seeking attention, trying to take the law into her own hands and attempting to “ruin” the offender.
Following a public outcry on this case, NUS announced on Monday that it will be having an internal town-hall session “to gather feedback and concern about sexual misconduct on campus and to discuss how the university can further strengthen its disciplinary and support framework”.
The dean of student affairs Associate Professor Peter Pang pointed out that the university would also inform attendees about the “investigation and disciplinary procedures, and the sanction framework for sexual misconduct”.
NUS board of trustees’ chairman Hsieh Fu Hua revealed the initial members of the committee for the town-hall session which include a member of the board, representatives from the NUS Students’ Union and will be chaired by Madam Kay Kuok.
Commenting on this internal town-hall meeting, Ms Bay hopes that it “will truly address concerns of the body that we’ve put forth”.
NUS’s Department of Communication and New Media, the faculty that Ms Baey is in, also voiced their support for her. Department head Audrey Yue said that it has “zero tolerance for sexual misconduct”.
“We will take an active role to assist NUS and (the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to) develop a university-wide approach to sexual violence intervention, including a comprehensive strategy that equips students, faculty and staff with the awareness, knowledge and skills required to make social change towards ending sexual violence,” she said.
Separately, four NUS student organisations also sent a joint statement of concern asking for more action taken by Associate Professor Pang.
“While we commend his unequivocal statement that NUS does not tolerate sexual misconduct, more needs to be done to demonstrate the university’s commitment to a safe NUS community,” said the statement by interest groups from the College of Alice and Peter Tan, University Scholars’ Programme, Yale-NUS College and Tembusu College.
Apart from holding a town hall, the group also called for NUS to “increase student representation and ensure sufficient female representation on the review committee”.