BAC vows to increase efforts in bringing awareness to women's rights issues
In an official statement released today, 28 April, Brickfields Asia College (BAC) clarified that they'd advised the female student to remove her tweets about the rape joke as they were concerned about her safety online after her phone number was revealed in one of the tweets.
"As educators entrusted with the safety and wellbeing of our students, our first response in the recent unfortunate rape comment tweet incident was to advise the student to bring down her tweets containing her mobile number because in our view this is an internet safety procedure to ensure identity and location security. It is unfortunate that this advice has been perceived as an infringement of her right to free speech or our attempts to silence her on the event which was never our intention.
In fact, we acknowledge it takes courage to speak up and that this young woman has been through a distressing event and our hearts go out to her. She will continue to have both establishments’ support," said BAC founder and Managing Director Raja Singham in the statement.
"There is still a lot for everyone to learn about promoting the rights, respect, and protection of women."
In an interview with SAYS, BAC's Head of Legal and Compliance Mr. Andrew Kalish explained that the college has worked with over 80 NGOs via the college's CSR initiative - the Make It Right Movement (MIRM). In line with the initiative's goal to keep the students as well as the faculty aware and up to date with societal issues, the movement covers 12 cause pillars, including women's rights.
"We at BAC and IACT as educators with over 20,000 graduates have always emphasised and inspired our students to fight for the voiceless, the marginalised, and powerless. We believe that in light of this event, we can and we will make it our priority to uphold transparency, integrity, and ethical behaviour among our students, staff, and every department of both establishments," said the statement.
Moving forward, BAC vows to "continue to conduct awareness campaigns" that include workshops, dialogues, and talks in championing women's rights. The college has also engaged a women's rights activist to assist them in furthering their support of the cause.
It is explained in the statement that "both institutions have always conducted and supported programmes to highlight gender sensitivity, equality, and sexual harassment on campus and we will now further increase our efforts."
"BAC and IACT will continue to conduct awareness campaign comprising workshops, dialogues and talks emphasising on the following areas which will be extended to the public as well. These areas include:
- Gender sensitivity and equality
- Zero tolerance to sexual harassment
- Cyber bullying
- Social media sensitivity
- Cyber security, ethics and procedure
- Atress, anxiety and depression
In this regard, we are fortunate to have the services of Ivy-Josiah, a women’s rights activist and Gender Consultant who has voluntarily agreed to assist us as part of our advisory board to monitor and promote a safe, hospitable, and inclusive campus environment."
When asked if the college has outlined the terms of the male student's 100 hours of community service, BAC's Mr. Andrew Kalish said that the college has yet to determine the causes he will be involved in for the duration
He further assured us that the college is currently talking to their NGO partners and beneficiaries to that account. The student, whom he clarified is a freshman, is currently suspended.
On a related note, BAC founder and Managing Director Raja Singham related their side of the events in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail Online. In the interview, he explained what happened during the meeting between the female student and the college staff as well as how her parents' concerns for her safety eventually led to her quitting her studies at IACT.
25 APRIL: In a disappointing but unsurprising conclusion to the "rape joke" incident involving students from two private colleges in PJ, the female student of whom the "joke" was about has withdrawn herself from the college in fear for her safety
Last week, a series of tweets from the female student about a sexist WhatsApp group chat was widely shared on social media after it emerged that the group chat is used by the some male students from another college (note: both colleges share the same campus) to "critique the new batch of female students", one of whom made a rape comment about the female student in question.
Read the tweets and screenshots here.
She revealed in a Facebook post that while she was called in to discuss the issue with the management, she ended getting reprimanded for bringing it up on social media and was "intimidated" into deleting the tweets
"I got called in by BAC and IACT staff the following day, prior to the tweets blowing up. I was grilled on the spot on how it was my fault that things got messy. It was lopsided because the other party was stressing on how WRONG I was for voicing my opinion but never stressed on how wrong the boy was," she wrote.
"The BAC staff didn't want to hear WHY I resorted to Twitter. They already painted a picture and forced me to fit into it. I was intimidated and scared and couldn't voice my true feelings or even argue diplomatically."
It appears that the boy who'd made the inappropriate remark has also made a personal apology. However, she soon found out that no action was taken against him and she began receiving hostile messages from his peers.
"Fast forward to two days ago, the boy who said those nasty things approached me along with a friend of his. He apologised but his friend was also stating that I was wrong as well. That's when I asked him, what he got from the BAC team, he said NOTHING. He didn't get any disciplinary actions towards him. He said the most that he got was a slap from a girl but nothing from BAC. NO counselling, NO temporary suspension, NOTHING. He walks free," she wrote.
"Not only that, because he didn't get anything, he felt like it was okay to tarnish my name and reclaim his to his seniors. I had a phone call from a senior of his asking me what my deal was. I even have a recording of the phone call.
Also, someone approached (one of my close friends) and said if I were to made a police report, someone would pull some strings and make sure the report doesn't go through. This boy has powerful friends and they support him for the wrong reasons."
"Because of him tarnishing my name, my parents felt like it was unfit for me to continue my studies and withdrew me from college in fear for my safety."
Shortly after, BAC released an official statement in regards to the incident, assuring the public that the college has taken "serious disciplinary action" against the boy and even assigned him 100 hours of community service
However, it is not known what the community service entails, nor if the other boys involved in the group chat will also be investigated in regards to the incident. At the time of writing, the identit(ies) of the boy(s) involved also remain unknown.
What are your thoughts on how this incident was handled by both parties? Let us know in the comments section below.