Has NUS failed to protect its female students? | campus.sg

Ever since the Monica Baey incident, NUS just can’t seem to shake off its sexual predator image. Numerous cases of peeping toms and sexual deviancy have since been committed either on-site or by students of the university elsewhere. Here are just some of the cases heard in 2020 so far.

Sexual harassment by professors

The latest case concerns the dismissal of Dr Jeremy Fernando, a fellow at Tembusu College, for allegations of sexual misconduct. The accusations came from two victims who reported their experiences with the school’s disciplinary committee, which resulted in the dismissal of the professor.

Most people were shocked at the way the case was handled – firstly, it wasn’t reported to the police in a timely manner, which is usually the case whenever a crime occurs regardless of the location. Secondly, a circular sent to students explaining only that Dr Fernando had “behaved inappropriately as a teaching staff”.

NUS then released a timeline of how the events unfolded, and has since lodged a police report on October 21 despite having completed the second of the assault investigations on September 21. Dr Fernando was dismissed on October 7.

In a previous case, Professor Zheng Yongnian, a former director of the NUS East Asian Institute (EAI) from China, was accused of sexual harassment by at least two women who identified themselves as NUS or EAI staff. He has denied all claims. He’s since resigned from EAI and taken up a post at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

A plethora of illicit photos and videos

Meanwhile in the courts, 27-year old NUS architecture student Joel Rasis Ismail was jailed for 12 weeks and fined S$1,500 recently for taking upskirt videos of a colleague at the place he interned at, and for trespassing into NUS hall toilets to film women showering. He committed the offences in March and May last year, and was under suspension for 3 semesters until his sentencing.

Back in August, a former NUS chemistry undergraduate Teh Yu Kiat who pleaded guilty to insulting the modesty of 104 women by taking upskirt videos on various locations across campus and in changing rooms, was jailed for only 28 weeks. By the time he was caught red-handed in 2017 by a fellow student, he possessed close to 600 obscene films, obtained over a period of 3 years while he was a student.

In yet another voyeurism case, 25-year old Ryan You Jun Chao was sentenced to seven weeks’ jail for taking photographs of two female students showering in a residential hall women’s toilet last year. By the time he was sentenced in June, he had already graduated.

Luah Chao Zhi, 23, a former NUS business administration undergraduate was sentenced to eight weeks’ jail in March for taking upskirt videos of 27 women, including on campus. He took upskirt photos for about four months last year before he was caught, and 31 upskirt videos were found on his mobile phone and laptop. He’s been expelled from the university.

The latest voyeurism case involves a 24-year old NUS student who was caught trespassing into 2 female toilets in March to set up hidden cameras disguised as smoke detectors. He has since been suspended and barred from entering all areas on campus. His case is still pending investigation.

Getting away with assault

Another case in 2020 that shocked the nation surrounded Yin Zi Qin, a 23-year old NUS Dentistry student who choked his ex-girlfriend and damaged her eye, causing visual impairment and requiring 5 months to heal.

For his offences, Yin was given a short detention order for 12 days and a day reporting order for five months, and was ordered to complete only 80 hours of community service over a year. This means he won’t have a criminal record. Following this, two petitions called for a harsher sentence and for NUS to expel him.

Cases prevalent among university students

NUS’ Board of Discipline implemented tougher punishments for sexual deviants last year. Offenders will get a minimum one-year suspension for serious offences, such as taking upskirt photos or videos of women in the showers. If the offender repeats these cases, they’ll either be suspended for two years or be immediately expelled.

Of course, crimes of a sexual nature aren’t limited to NUS. This year also saw accusations of outrage of modesty at SMU and NTU. Last year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung addressed the issue of sexual misconduct in universities, saying there was a growing concern of voyeurism.

In all cases pertaining to these deviant students, their lawyers usually included phrases like “he’s remorseful”, “he has no previous record”, “he’s done well at school” or “he has a potentially bright future” in their defence.