‘We have to stop hazing in this city’

The RUG wants student associations to stop hazing altogether. An external committee will be launched to ensure that is the case.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Traci White

‘What has happened is completely unacceptable’, says RUG president Sibrand Poppema during the University Council meeting on Thursday in response to recent events at Vindicat. ‘It must come to an end. We will stop hazing in this city.’

This week, student association Vindicat was in the news following multiple incidents within the group. In August, a first year student taking part in introduction activities was struck so hard by upper classmen that he had to be hospitalised. It also came to light that male members had created a ‘True Almanac’, a ‘bang list’ which encouraged members to try to get 22 ‘horny chicks’ into bed.

‘No longer acceptable’

‘In the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were periods where hazing didn’t occur at all. What we are seeing now is not a tradition, but rather something that has remerged in recent years’, Poppema says. ‘We want hazing to be brought to an end and for it to be formally replaced by an introduction period. These senseless rituals have to stop. We have now had two cases in recent weeks which have seriously harmed people. That is why we must now say: it is completely unacceptable that hazing still occurs. It cannot go on like this.’

The RUG will work together with the municipality and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences to create an external committee to prevent associations from hazing. Poppema says, ‘It’s about changing the culture. Calling it scandalous is not enough. It’s about what we actually do against it.’

The university board will enter discussion with the associations about ending hazing.

‘Not desirable’

Student political parties SOG and Lijst Calimero are displeased with the RUG’s position. ‘Ending hazing is not desirable. It’s an intrusion on the tradition and culture of the student associations. The goal should be to ensure a safe introduction period. Let’s work together to create a healthier student culture’, says faction chairperson Lijst Calimero Daan van Dijk.

‘It’s our responsibility to work with students, not against them’, says SOG faction chairperson Evan Clark. ‘It’s not a structural occurrence; it’s an incident which is an exception to the rule. It’s up to the associations to facilitate a cultural change.’

‘No more inequality’

Poppema was unmoved by the student’s remarks. He disagrees that it can be chalked up to mere ‘incidents’. ‘Inequality is inherent to hazing. That has to stop. Associations have to help their new members rather than first causing them more problems. Every year, multiple students end up in the hospital because something has gone wrong. We do not want that to happen any longer, and we can achieve that by bringing an end to hazing altogether. The external committee will see to that. What Vindicat has to do now is decide how to change the introduction period.’

The board’s patience has worn thin, the RUG president says. ‘The point is that we want to do this in collaboration with the Hanze and the municipality, and we think that we can also work together with the boards of the associations themselves. I hope that we can achieve this. If not, then we would be left with no other choice but to sever ties with the associations. That is what it would come down to, ultimately. We have not reached that point yet, but we are prepared to do so.’

‘It cannot go on like this’

The Personnel faction is satisfied with the RUG’s decision. The staff members called for an end to hazing last week. But faction chairperson Bart Beijer still says that there is a caveat: ‘The board’s long held position had been that this was an ‘internal matter’ for the organisation. It appears that the amount of media attention paid to this matter has played a role in the board’s decision.’

Poppema denies that his position has changed. ‘The incidents in recent weeks have shown that it cannot go on like this. Vindicat’s alumni are embarrassed by all of this, believe me. The former members really want this to come to an end.’

Nederlands

29 September 2016 | 12-10-2016, 11:00