Kellynn
@KellynnWee
Thu Apr 25 09:47:43 +0000 2019

I am gong to live-tweet the NUS Town Hall on the Monica Baey sexual misconduct case--going to quickly summarise what's happened so far to try and catch up

Auditorium 1 is full. I've been redirected to Auditorium 2 where there is also a large spillover crowd; IDs are checked before entering. Only student and faculty are allowed to attend.

Monica is making a speech and a list of recommendations she hopes NUS should take up. I missed a lot of this, but she says NUS must set up an office/hotline dedicated to dealing with cases of sexual misconduct/harassment among other things.

Prof Florence Ling, Vice Provost (Student Life) apologies to Monica. A representative from CPS, I think, is here to speak briefly about victim care and the trauma faced by victims, as well as counselling support offered by NUS.

A young woman from the NUS student union is first to step to the mic. She says that people unhappy with the statement written by the union went to her Instagram account and threatened her with rape.

"It just goes to show how entrenched these cultural attitudes are... There's only so much institutions can do. How can we cataylse attitudinal and cultural shift?"

Prof Peter Pang, Dean of Students, asks student community to step up with ideas and says the administration is open to incorporating student ideas.

A Yale-NUS student steps up and points out that after the orientation scandal, the review committee promised workshops on consent and sexual misconduct. He says these never materialised, three years down the road.

He asks how the NUS admin can be held accountable for promises made after every case of sexual assault. "Does it take a national controversy for us to get things changing every time?" The crowd applauds.

He adds that the student organisations who led attempts to open conversations about consent and sexual assault faced "a lot of resistance from the administration. How do we hold you accountable for such things?"

Prof Peter Pang and Prof Florence Ling assures the crowd that this will never happen again.

A young man steps up and reads a powerful personal statement from his friend, who was also the victim of a voyeur in a residential college bathroom. She reported it and nothing happened. Then another young woman was violated in the same way.

Office of Campus Security gave the young woman a rape whistle. Counsellors told the victim not to report the case to give the man who committed the violation a chance for "rehabilitation".

"I was utterly failed by the administration... Overall there is a systemic failure in the way that NUS handles these cases... NUS leadership does not understand the trauma that victims face."

She adds that her friends now wait for her to shower in the communal toilets and that she is wracked with anxiety and fear. “I’m angry, scared, and most importantly I no longer feel safe here.”

I am trying to keep up but it's hard. Another student steps up and asks why the press statement put out by Prof Peter Pang did not use the term "sexual assault" and why we are using the term "sexual misconduct".

Prof Pang responds with the term "sexual misconduct" again; the audience groans audibly. The panel assures us that they are taking this seriously and that they are hearing us. They are mostly listening to students express themselves.

The student who asks about the choice of words adds that the administration's responses have carried an "inherent victim blaming mentality". She says, "you want us to lock the door properly when we bathe or what?" Crowd applauds.

"One in three youths in Singapore faces sexual violence." She says that protective measures are inadequate and can only go so far, adding that there is a "complete void of sexual education in Singapore's education system today."

A student suggests facial recognition cameras at halls--I am not sure how I feel about this.

Vice-Provost assures us that the recommendations are being "taken down". She says, "it concerns me that among my 38,000 children someone is experiencing such pain.”

A student says that the two strikes policy is not put into practice. She cites a number of statistics to point out that reoffenders are actually not expelled.

Pang: "There have got to be changes. We are serious, and we know this. The university must take a tougher stand."

The student suggests a "no tolerance" policy, saying that it's also been enforced at places like Stamford. She says "it will send a clear and strong message to everyone that we take sexual assault cases seriously."

She points out that "sexual misconduct" as a term is a smokescreen and contributes to sweeping the issue under the carpet. "I will be graduating this year, but my sisters will be attending this university. I want to know how we can hold you accountable."

Prof Pang says that we must wait for the response of the review committee. Vice Provost Ling says that there will be a timeline.

Another student union representative has stepped up. She is reading out questions on behalf of the student body. "Will the school expel Nicholas to set a precedent?"

Pang again defers to the committee.

The NUS student union asks what NUS will do about doxxing. There is some confusion about the concept and students are now speaking up to clarify.

I am not sure why Profs Ling and Pang say to direct all enquiries to the review committee. They are offering apologies and assurances but also repeat that they have little to no power to dictate the outcome of what the committee decides.

Students keep asking where the review committee are if they have such power to dictate the response. Prof Pang says it is not formed and Prof Ling says that minutes are being taken to submit to the committee, but the audience are audibly/visibly unhappy with this conclusion.

A student suggests that security measure be tightened within the residences, such as needing card access to enter bathrooms.

Prof Ling: "There are two things we will do without waiting for the review committee. The first thing we will do is that a unit will be set up for victim care... immediately. The second thing we will do is that we will strengthen our infrastructure and security system."

Please note these are not word for word quotes, just a rough transcription.

A student points out that he feels that NUS tries to suppress bad press and cases that show the university in a bad light. The audience applauds.

Students in general are requesting for more student participation and student inclusion in review committees and NUS policymaking regarding sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.

The students are being asked to wrap up: final two questions. "Please email the questions to the email address listed here..." Union is requesting that we extend the session. There are many students in line waiting to speak.

Profs Ling and Pang say they have to go for another meeting at 6:30 and again direct students to email their queries and comments to the address listed.

A student says that we should leave the Nicholas Lim sentence stay as voyeurism/sexual harassment is a minor crime as opposed to rape. He says we should not reopen the case.

"I don't believe victims have the say in sentencing criminals... This is irrational as this would suggest that a crime is more serious if a victim is more articulate. I hope the review committee will remain unaffected by public sentiment..."

Mixed replies. Cries of outrage, some applause.

A student steps up to talk about her experience of being molested. The CPS counsellor is directing her to counselling to share this experience in a "safe space" instead of speaking in public.

The young woman says that she intends to make this a public testimony and she is sure about sharing this with the student body.

"I could not control what happened to me and I kept quiet, unlike Monica... I forced myself to keep quiet... and not let him take away any more than my dignity.... I reported this and I will detail how they dealt with what they recognised was a criminal offence."

"I was interrogated by two male staff and one female staff. No psychologist was brought in and i could not bring in a friend... I had to detail what he did to me. Where he touched with his hands... I felt exposed, I felt naked, I was not treated like a victim..."

"I was accused with being inconsistent. They asked me which side he squeezed first and what I was wearing--which, by the way, was this jacket."

She says this left her with PTSD. She could not eat, showered late at night, felt flush with fear when she encountered her perpetrator.

"The office was very vague when they were investigating my case... a month later the dept dropped the case completely, citing a lack of evidence... there was nothing on his record. He went to Duke for exchange and now he has graduated."

She says it was very hard to secure an appointment at UHC for counselling and points out that AWARE charges for counselling sessions, and that not all students can afford this.

"The school should never be a shelter to condone such behaviour… the university is a potential breeding ground for criminals."

Prof Pang is making final remarks. "Our victim care is totally inadequate. We want to make things right."

"The second commitment we give you is that we will immediately strengthen safety measures at the hostels."

Prof Pang says we are her because we love NUS and we want NUS to be a place we can be proud of...

The profs are getting up to leave. A final student gets up to speak. "Why is the onus falling upon us? All we have heard is that we need to be heard as a collective. You usher us into an auditorium that is woefully smaller than some of the modules I've been to.

"You dedicate an hour and a half to listen to us... you have so many academic experts and yet you are drawing to none of these resources... you are asking us, the students, to reiterate their suffering to you just so you can take us seriously."

"We have asked you so many questions and yet we still find no answer. Having victim care is incredible, but we have told you that this is inadequate. We have no affirmation from you that the perp in question who has started all of this will be punished more severely."

Prof Ling says "thank you for your feedback." Town hall has ended. I hope this wasn't under Chatham House rules or anything--please let me know if it was.

If reporters are quoting from this thread, PLEASE fact-check and do not represent my secondhand account of victims' stories as absolute truths. These are not verbatim quotes. I was trying to live-tweet events that were happening very quickly & may have missed/confused details.

Appending Isaac Neo's notes because they are more complete and offer additional details: https://t.co/S2kINPSLW6