NUS fires fellow at Tembusu College for sexual assault

By Gurpit Singh

By now most of you have heard: Jeremy Fernando was fired from his position as a fellow at Tembusu College, NUS, because he sexually assaulted two women. I will add here that we have heard, and have raised, that there are very likely other women affected, though this remains speculation unless they come forward.

Two things have come to mind:

It’s disturbing to me how the very people in a liberal bubble, who audaciously celebrate women’s day and who claim to take women’s voices seriously, and I also refer to its students, forget their mantras of “believe women” when it comes to someone they know. Where is everyone who usually speaks up hiding now? The confidentiality shrouding the women is there for their protection, not for your selfish sureties.

Secondly, Tembusu’s directors have been disturbingly distant. The victims have been extremely traumatised throughout the process: the directors have remained detached. They cried out for a statement (as I have heard many tembusu students have too, it is only right) and gave permission for them to disclose select facts to explain his firing. Instead they chose to let misinformation spread and ignored the victims’ email for almost a week. It has been almost two weeks since Jeremy got fired. They have resisted making a clarifying statement, and avoided answering the victims’ requests head-on.

I’m saddened that the leaders of my former home and the place I’ve trusted violated its ethical duties to its students in three ways: it did not mobilise it’s residential team to look out for other survivors in the place where a predator was probably most active; it did not issue a statement that might have alerted other women to the investigation and help them get the care they need; it did not preserve any transparency in dealing with the aftermath and instead allowed rumours to spread rampant, people to disbelieve them and the women’s testimonies, and to allow tFreedom, an interest group, to become the cover for it.

The college master instead merely invited the victims to, “please direct anyone who is concerned to contact me”, so feel free to email the college directorship and ask them more, and perhaps even thereby clarify their inaction and uninspiring vacillation.


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