NUS opens new unit to provide support to victims of sexual misconduct

Assoc Prof Lim hopes the VCU will be a central point of contact for victims
Assoc Prof Lim hopes the VCU will be a central point of contact for victims NUS

The National University of Singapore (NUS) opened its Victim Care Unit (VCU) on Thursday, August 29 to provide a central point of contact, as well as a confidential and professional care to victims of sexual misconduct in the University.

It should be noted that a few months ago NUS undergraduate Monica Baey raised her voice against the Peeping Tom incident but was taken lightly by the authorities initially. The university apologised for what happened to their student and then decided to take a stricter action to safeguard its students.

Recently, Director of VCU Associate Professor Sandy Lim who is also a faculty member at NUS, explained that victims of such incidents are often distressed and at a loss as to what to do when such incidents happen.

Lim said, "We are here to give them a helping hand so that they have someone to talk to in a safe environment, and to help them along in the recovery process."

The VCU team includes five staff, such as care officers who will interact with any students who approach to the unit, administrative and research staff who are chosen for their experience in helping victims from multiple backgrounds, varying ethnicities, identities and orientations.

NUS news clearly stated that the victims of sexual misconduct can contact this special unit via a 24-hour hotline, a confidential online contact form or email and then they will be heard by specially assigned care officer, who will work with them to identify pressing needs and resources.

Professor Lim stated, "We want to encourage students to feel empowered to report the cases. We want to work with the student to make sure he or she is prepared and feel comfortable enough to do so."

The main focus of the VCU is to provide as much support as possible to the victims of such unfortunate incidents. In addition, Professor Lim mentioned, "As long as they are students of NUS, they can come to us for support, regardless of who the perpetrators are or where the incidents happened."

After Monica Baey's incident, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have decided to strengthened their policy of handling any sexual misconduct case, and VCU is a first of its kind among the institutions.

Spreading awareness about the unit among the students is the first priority of Professor Lim, while her team will be working on a survey of the entire student population to better understand the prevalence of sexual misconduct in NUS, both reported and unreported.

She said, "Relying on just statistics from the campus security or the police are usually not very accurate, as these are just the reported cases," but at the same time, understanding this baseline will also assist the team in fine-tuning the process.

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