‘Ban hazing violence’

Education minister Bussemaker wants universities to take decisive action against excesses at student associations.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The outgoing minister is responding to recent news in the NRC, which showed, among other things, that the hazing practices in Amsterdam get out of hand increasingly often. The newspaper also reported that the RUG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences have insufficient control over incidents occurring at student associations.

Bussemaker has labelled the news that hazing culture is getting harsher as ‘very serious’. ‘If it is indeed true that educational institutes lack a proper overview of the excesses that happen at student associations and take insufficient actions to stop these, that is very worrying’, she wrote the Lower House.

Earlier, the minister had reprimanded the RUG because according to her, the university’s response to excesses at student association Vindicat had been ‘entirely insufficient’. During the introduction period in August, an aspiring member was seriously injured after another member stood on his head.

The RUG initially felt that the association should handle the situation themselves, but changed their mind when education minister Bussemaker called them out. Immediately afterwards, the Board of Directors announced that hazing in Groningen would be abolished.

Limit

As far the minister is concerned, the limit for what is allowed during introduction periods is clear. ‘As far as I’m concerned, the allowable limit lies with violence, involuntary or abject actions (done by or to persons), systematic humiliation, sexual harassment and/or any actions that are in breach with Dutch law.’

Bussemaker says that universities should make watertight agreements with student associations. If they fail to do so, she will confront them. ‘It’s very important that institutes of higher education take responsibility and reach not just structural agreements with the student associations, but also have an intense discussion with the association in question whenever incidents occur.’

She also wants research universities and universities of applied sciences to appoint a confidential counsellor where students and their parents can anonymously report abuse at associations. The RUG has the Advice Committee Orientation (ACI).

Voluntary code of conduct

Earlier, the ACI said that they felt that certain student associations were not taking them seriously as a supervisory authority. That is why the university will introduce a code of conduct this month. Associations that sign the code promise to create a safe and trustworthy environment for the students, reject violence, intimidation, and discrimination, and to report any and all incidents to the university. However, signing the code is entirely voluntary.

Also expected to appear this month is the report by the accreditation committee, which has taken a closer look at the culture at student association Vindicat. Vindicat is the first association to be assessed by the accreditation committee, which was founded after the abuse that took place there. When they have finished the Vindicat report, the committee will move on to Albertus Magnus.

Nederlands

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