MOE monitors sexual misconduct cases involving IHL staff & students: Lawrence Wong

MOE has also been working with Institutes of Higher Learning to address sexual misconduct.

Matthias Ang | November 03, 2020, 01:23 PM

A No-Contact Order may be imposed by an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) in a case of serious sexual misconduct between a student and staff from the same institution.

This is to ensure that the alleged offender is prohibited from contacting or being within the vicinity of the party that makes the allegations.

In addition, the accused may be required stay away from the campus temporarily with immediate effect if the individual is also assessed to be a danger to the community.

NUS case

Minister for Education Lawrence Wong gave the response in a written answer in Parliament on Nov. 2, in response to a question by Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru.

Wong noted that He's question came after a recent report of the dismissal of an NUS Tembusu College academic, Jeremy Fernando, for breaching NUS's Code of Conduct.

MOE has been working with IHLs to address sexual misconduct

Wong further stated that the Ministry of Education (MOE) was currently working with the autonomous universities, polytechnics and ITEs to tackle sexual misconduct.

He highlighted that efforts of IHLs had been enhanced in the following four areas:

  • Improving education for students and staff on appropriate behaviour, which includes student briefings during orientation, online modules, face-to-face workshops, and regular outreach to build awareness,
  • Improving campus infrastructure, which includes the expansion of CCTV camera coverage and an increase in the frequency of security patrols,
  • Improving support for victims, including enhancing training for first responders and enhancing counselling services,
  • Improving student disciplinary frameworks to impose tougher penalties for sexual misconduct.

Staff are also periodically briefed on professional conduct

Staff will also be periodically briefed on their institutions' respective Code of Conduct, with the expectation that they are to uphold the Code at all times, Wong added.

As stipulated in the Codes, staff must keep their relationship with students "strictly" professional, so as to "safeguard the integrity of the relationship" and ensure that no conflict of interest arises from the staff's position.

Wong stated:

"These Codes cover expected behaviours on- and off-campus, including respect for the rule of law and for others, and personal, professional and academic integrity."

IHLs will carry out their own internal investigations independent of a police report

In the event that a case of sexual misconduct does transpire, Wong added that a police report will be "typically made", with the incident going on public record should the alleged perpetrator be proven and charged in court.

IHLs will also conduct their own internal investigations, to determine if the alleged offender has broken the Code of Conduct.

Should the suspect have done so, they are subjected to disciplinary sanctions, including possible suspension or expulsion of students, or dismissal of staff.

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