The Advice Committee Orientation (ACI) reported the incidents in its annual report. The committee advises 50 student associations, study associations, and sports associations at the RUG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences concerning the safety of students during the introduction period. The incidents in August all occured at student associations.
The committee will not say which associations are involved, nor will they comment on the extent of the injuries the students received. But when asked, the ACI does say that the two were not victims of violent acts. ‘This was not a case of someone doing them harm’, according to secretary Jan Wolthuis.
The abuse at Vindicat – where a first-year student suffered severe head trauma after a senior member stood on his head – is explicitly mentioned in the annual report, because it ‘got a lot of publicity a month later’.
‘Inasmuch as was deemed necessary, the organisation’s board has taken the necessary actions’, the ACI writes. According to the committee members, the reports show that ‘these hazing practices were not limited to Vindicat’.
‘Can’t be blamed’
According to the committee, there were three reports of incidents during the introductions period in 2015 as well. The year before that, there were eight. In most cases it concerned a first-year student in need of medical attention. According to the ACI, the incident at that time ‘can’t be blamed’ on the associations where they took place.
The committee, which was founded in 1998, assesses nearly all associations’ safety plans for the introduction period. But the ACI concludes that this is an insufficient method to ensure that nothing drastic happens. ‘Unfortunately, a subculture in which first-year members are treated as ‘inferior’ and are subsequently treated as such by the senior members still exists’, according to the committee’s annual report.
The ACI’s report concludes that they do not ‘have the means to act as an effective supervisory body’, although it is meant to serve as a watchdog. The committee merely has an advisory function and only responds when the associations come to them with an incident.
That is why the ACI sent a letter to the RUG and Hanze requesting that they re-evaluate its position and duties.
‘At the end of the day, the ACI does not have the power to enforce anything’, RUG manager Jan de Jeu admits. The RUG expects the committee, which was established after the abuse at Vindicat received national attention, to have more clout. ‘The ACI has a practical purpose, and that works really well’, according to De Jeu.