A political science professor from the National University of Singapore (NUS) was dismissed on Tuesday (1 Dec) for sexual misconduct against a student.
In a statement on Tuesday, NUS said that an anonymous complaint was sent earlier in August, alleging that Professor Theodore G. Hopf from the university’s political science department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) had sexually harassed a student.
Investigations into the matter began immediately after the complaint was received.
Following news of this case, gender-equality group AWARE released a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday (2 Dec), commending NUS for its response to the anonymous complaint and also for its “decisive action” in handling the case.
“We are happy to see NUS respond with alacrity to an anonymous complaint they received about sexual harassment,” said AWARE.
“Although the university has come under a lot of flak recently for its handling of sexual harassment cases, its decisive action in the case of Prof Ted Hopf is a clear indication that NUS is taking public feedback to heart,” it added.
The gender-equality group then highlighted three actions that hopefully signal a new approach at the university:
- NUS ensured that its decision to sack Prof Hopf was communicated to students and the wider NUS community at the same time as the media. In the previous case regarding Jeremy Fernando, communications to the NUS community were not handled as well.
- NUS made a police report after speaking to the survivor, and explained in its press statement that it was legally obliged to, under Section 424 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- NUS put interim measures into place while the investigations were being conducted – Prof. Hopf was not allowed to contact any students during that period.
AWARE went on to say that it is glad NUS had prioritised student safety rather than attempting to reach for any compromises in order to keep Prof Ted Hopf in its employment.
It continued, “While it may be concerning that so many campus sexual harassment cases have emerged of late, we are also glad, at least, that survivors are proving more willing to come forward.
“It can be difficult and intimidating to file sexual harassment complaints against well-known, well-regarded men, such as Prof. Hopf (who was the top political scientist at NUS).”
AWARE concluded its statement applauding the bravery of those involved in the case.