NTU’s new anti-harassment module draws scepticism from students

8 May 2019

By Deepanraj Ganesan

News Editor

There have been at least three reported Peeping Tom cases in NTU in the last month.

In the wake of media reports last month on sexual harassment in tertiary institutions here, NTU’s Student Life Team announced that an online module on anti-harassment will be introduced in August for all freshmen and student organisers of orientation programmes.

The announcement, made via e-newsletter NTUVibe on 24 Apr, also reminded students and staff of the university’s zero-tolerance policy and provided tips on dealing with sexual harassment in school and at the workplace.

“The anti-harassment policy and the Student Code of Conduct clearly state that harassment is unacceptable. All members of the University community have a role to play in creating an environment free from harassment,” the newsletter stated.

But students that the Nanyang Chronicle spoke to felt that more can be done, with some saying that the effectiveness of the measures are limited, especially with regards to the online module.

Gopalan Elango, 25, a final-year student from the School of Humanities, said that the measures may deter future offenders but many students do not complete online modules properly.

“Many just skip the videos and online lessons and do it for the sake of clearing it. So I am not sure if it will be as effective as the school would want it to be,” he said.

Online modules do not count towards a student’s grade-point average (GPA), and while completion is compulsory once the course is registered, students normally do not take it seriously because of how easy it is to complete the module, added Gopalan.

Khoe Wei Jun, 26, a fourth-year student from the School of Social Sciences, echoed Gopalan’s views.

“Increasing awareness about this matter is definitely a first step before moving to involve students in preventing and solving this problem,” said Khoe.

“However, considering that it is an online module, which likely has low weightage compared to other core modules, students may not commit to learning about the issue deeply.”

A positive sign

On the other hand, students also commended NTU for the implementation of the module.

Lim Theng Theng, 20, a first-year student from the School of Social Sciences, said that the module reinforces the fact that sexual harassment is not tolerated at NTU.

“Future victims will know the outlets and resources available when they need it, but ultimately it boils down to how the school manages sexual harassment cases when people do report it,” said Lim.

Ken Seah, a fourth-year student from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, echoed the same views.

The 24-year-old said: “I think the the effect of implementing such a module will reinforce the stand that the university is taking against sexual harassment on campus.”

Associate Professor Victor Yeo, Deputy Associate Provost (Student Life) believes that the module is essential in helping to raise students’ awareness on how to deal with sexual harassment.

He said: “The online module complements the mandatory briefings on harassment and misconduct for student organisers and freshmen participating in orientation programmes, and will eventually be rolled out to all NTU students.”

In April, there were three separate Peeping Tom cases reported in NTU, amid the ongoing furore sparked by Ms Monica Baey, a National University of Singapore (NUS) student, who was filmed by a fellow student while taking a shower.

Ms Baey then took to social media to express her anger and concern at how her case was handled by the school.

Despite the scepticism of the measures in place, the vice-president of corporate communications for NTU Students’ Union (NTUSU), Tiffany Choo, said that the measures announced were already planned before the online saga began, and that it was a “good first step”.

The 22-year-old said: “We know that it's not entirely foolproof, but it's a good first step… and it shows that that the NTU community does care about the welfare of our students so in that light, it's quite heartening.”

“After recent troubling incidents, this may have been an apt reminder that all of us have a part to play in a safe studying experience.

“The NTUSU hopes to continue having the student cohorts’ dedication and involvement in all initiatives for a positive experience.”