- Residents expressed concern over the school’s security measures and follow-up action
- CCTV cameras facing the toilet were inactive at the time of the incident, Soapbox understands. Some were still covered in plastic wrapping as of press time
- A student suggested that NTU should provide residents with updates on the incident and install barriers above shower cubicles for added privacy
By Bernice Yong
Updated: 12:00pm, Sep 16
Year 2 student Asmita Mitra has been on high alert ever since she received news of an alleged peeping tom incident that occurred in a bathroom just two blocks from her room in Hall 14.
“I catch myself always checking to see if there’s anybody around when I shower,” said Mitra, 19, a Public Policy and Global Affairs student.
“I was really disturbed when I first heard about the news. I always thought it was safe in Hall 14. But my friends and I don’t feel safe now,” she said.
Like her, several Hall 14 residents said they have been kept on edge by NTU’s most recent alleged voyeurism case on Aug 26, and some students expressed concern over the university’s security measures and follow-up action.
The alleged incident involves a resident who is accused of holding a phone camera over his neighbour’s cubicle door while the latter was naked in the shower.
The purported culprit was evicted on the same day of the incident, and police investigations are ongoing.
Inactive CCTVs in Hall 14
Soapbox understands from multiple sources that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras facing the toilet where the incident allegedly occured were not functioning at the time of the case.
When Soapbox visited Hall 14, two types of CCTV cameras were installed at multiple locations — one of these types, dome CCTV cameras, was consistently covered in plastic wrapping.
NTU declined to comment when asked about the state of the hall’s CCTV system as investigations are ongoing.
Year 1 resident Charlene Ang said that the presence of the cameras made students feel safer, and that she would be upset if the CCTV system was not working.
“People rely on these cameras for evidence if things go wrong. It’s a deterrent, but now it’s just for show,” said the 19-year-old Philosophy student.
Another freshman resident, Taddeus Koh, 21, said that although he feels safe in Hall 14, he was shocked that the cameras had not been functioning.
“With these rumours that the cameras are not working, it may make people more daring to break the rules,” said the Chemistry and Biochemistry student, who moved in two days before the alleged incident.
“I don’t feel unsafe, because this is a rare, odd case. But I’ll be sure to lock my door and close the windows more often now,” he added.
Students dissatisfied with communication
Year 2 Business student Nicole Lim, 20, said that she has always been conscious of her privacy since she moved into Hall 14 last year, when news coverage of sexual misconduct against former NUS student Monica Baey was fresh on her mind.
She was disappointed that NTU and hall officials did not update residents with security information or send an advisory after news broke of the alleged voyeurism incident in Hall 14.
“They didn’t do their part in reassuring us,” she said.
Lim suggested that the school equip male toilets with the same security measures that already exist in female bathrooms, such as barriers over certain shower cubicles.
She said: “Guys are not an exception to this behaviour. They can be victims too.”
Soapbox understands that one cubicle in each of Hall 14’s female toilets is fitted with a barrier that blocks the space between the ceiling and the cubicle door.
NTU said that the cubicles with floor-to-ceiling panels are designed to give female residents the option of additional security.
“Not all cubicles are fitted with these panels, as there is a need to ensure adequate ventilation and limit humidity in the toilets,” said the university.
Students’ response to the alleged incident
As news of the incident surfaced on social media, second-year student Mitra said she was upset with how some students responded to the alleged incident online.
“I saw many people making comments and joking about it. It should have been talked about like how a girl was peeped on by a guy,” she said.
Year 2 Accounting and Business student Le Hien Phuong Uyen said she now only uses the cubicle with a barrier and does not shower late at night.
She added that she was afraid someone would plant a spy camera in the toilet or film her.
The Hall 14 resident said: “The school makes us do these anti-harassment modules, but things like this are still happening.”
Anti-harassment modules were introduced to students in July 2019 for all freshmen and student organisers of orientation programmes. The programme explains what constitutes harassment, how to respond and seek help and lists support resources for victims.
The modules were launched following a spate of sexual misconduct cases in April and May 2019 that took place in Tamarind Hall, Hall 3 and Hall 4.
NTU said it has been providing regular security reminders to students and encourages staff and student leaders living in Halls and to develop a culture of mutual respect and support.
The school wrote in an email: “Community living entails respecting boundaries and looking out for each other.”
“Students are encouraged to intervene if they witness any harassment, if it is safe to do so,” NTU added.
When he heard the news, Business freshman Ong De Wei, 22, decided to respond to the Aug 26 case by getting to know his neighbours better.
“We had a virtual orientation this year, so I don’t know that many people,” said the Hall 14 resident.
“I’ll be more careful, but I’ll also try to be more friendly and get to know my neighbours as well as international students.”