Hazing? Here we go again!

Hazing has once again come under fire. An overblown reaction, says UK freelancer Tim Bakker, who himself was hazed at Albertus once upon a time. ‘Once someone has called you a loser for the third time, you don’t care anymore. And why would you? It doesn’t change who you are.’
By Tim Bakker / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Here we go again. They’re coming for us, with the same old story. ‘Shocking, degrading!’ It’s been said a million times before, and now, it’s Bart Beijer’s turn to do the shouting as the head of the University Council’s Personnel faction.

As he explains in the UK and Trouw, he knows exactly what’s what. The Advice Committee Orientation (ACI) isn’t working, the student factions are cowards and the hazing victims are brainwashed and ‘waterboarded with beer’. Sure, and Santa Claus brings the Guantanamo social club candy and beer every year. Beerboarding will totally be the next big thing next summer though, mark my words.

Imagination

Beijer has never been hazed. He believes that his imagination and a handful of photos are sufficient. When confronted with the same photos three years ago, he spontaneously came up with the slogan: ‘Haze responsibly!’

Did it catch on? Fortunately, we have new evidence. Right honourable sir Beijer, what is your judgment?

‘But they didn’t listen to us. Perhaps the boards of student associations that employ these sorts of practices should no longer receive any grants’.

Those who don’t comply suffer the consequences. You want to haze? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

In short: terrible practices. And yet, the students showed up in droves during the introduction period: a thousand boys and girls voluntarily gave up ten days of their holiday to be up at eight each morning, leave their phones at home and do what they were told without questioning it.

Bart, say your piece! ‘It’s just not done anymore.’ I’ll grant you that one.

Beer shower

Maybe he saw this video which showed up on Dumpert a week ago. The video features groups of youngsters running laps dressed in old clothes, singing songs, wading through ditches, playing soccer, and even taking a refreshing beer shower.

None of these activities are uncommon at any average survival camp, but man, that atmosphere! So grim, not to mention all that yelling! It certainly doesn’t look like a fun time, and if it was a commercial for Bol.com, it would certainly have been a different story. Cameras may not lie, Bart, but they also don’t tell the truth.

Fake or not, that girl with the rocket is hilarious. And the video is an accurate representation of what goes on. So when I walked into the Albertus club in my little white shirt all those years ago, I did get a bit of a shock. What have I got myself into, I thought. But you get used to it so, so fast. Once someone has called you a loser for the third time, you don’t care anymore. And why would you? It doesn’t change who you are.

And all the members know how to play the game. Even the spectators are just actors in the play called Hazing. No one in the association will hold what you do during the hazing against you. Not there. And we still remember it like it was yesterday.

Psychologists

You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask other associations about the social work their first-year students perform. Have psychologists tell you why out of all the things that happen during hazing, doing nothing is actually the worst of all. Have sociologists discuss what actually leads to a stronger bond between people: hazing, or playing chutes and ladders and singing camp fire songs for a week. I don’t know the answers to any of these things.

What I do know is that students are free to make their own choices. Because there are at least a hundred other associations in Groningen where people can spend their time. Nobody’s forcing anyone to join up, or to stay. Whatever you do, the majority will be doing something else. You can call that stubbornness, or non-conformism – which you did in your columns, Bart. Except back then, you called them good qualities.

And it’s not like I don’t understand. You lack the knowledge, so your imagination runs wild. And that scares you. But this is a university, Bart, and your conclusions are only as strong as your sources. The experience experts certainly don’t agree with you. So tone it down a bit and do some proper empirical research. Maybe go through some hazing yourself: that’s two birds with one stone.

I can heartily recommend it.

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