Vindicat once again has to explain misconduct to the city and the UG

Vindicat finally regained accreditation last September. But the student association already finds itself having to explain its members’ misconduct. Will the club once again miss out on committee grants?

Last Friday, just before midnight. After Vindicat festival ‘Buitenspelen’ at Kardinge ends, partygoers stormed several Qbuzz buses. Vindicat had made a deal with Qbuzz beforehand for extra buses, but because of the autumn weather, more students than had been anticipated wanted to take the bus back into the city centre.

Hostile

These students didn’t pay for a ticket, didn’t wear face masks (which are still mandatory on public transport), smoked while on the bus, took the emergency hammers off the wall, and even opened the bus doors, says Qbuzz spokesperson Michel van der Mark. ‘But the buses can’t drive when the doors are open.’

The atmosphere turned hostile. The buses were stopped, police arrived, and the ME that was on standby because there was also a football match on was alerted. As a result, the mob of students decided to walk back to the city centre, accompanied by the police to stop the partygoers from walking in the middle of the road.

While no buses were actually damaged, Van der Mark says the bus drivers felt intimidated ‘by a large group of less-than-sober people all trying to get on the bus at once’. ‘It’s affecting them quite a bit, and we’ll be helping them through it.’

Awful weather

Vindicat rector Sanne Veken called the incident ‘an error in judgement’. In previous years, fewer people would take the bus back to the city. But this year’s party had been postponed by a month because of the pandemic. ‘The weather was awful.’ On Saturday, she apologised to Qbuzz on behalf of the association.

That’s not the end of it. The board of the association will be visiting the bus company on Monday afternoon to explain ‘why this happened and how they’ll prevent it from happening in the future’, says Van der Mark.

But on Monday morning, the board also has to explain itself to the UG, the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, and the city of Groningen. And this meeting could have serious consequences: they might once again lose the committee grants worth a total of 33,000 euros. Their accreditation with the schools is also at stake.

On Sunday, the UG didn’t want to say too much about it. ‘That would be speculation’, said spokesperson Anja Hulshof. ‘First, we need to know all the facts. After that, we’ll decide what to do.’ On top of that, political party SP has requested an extra council meeting. They’re wondering whether the association should be allowed to keep its licence.

Cultural change

Vindicat has lost its privileges several times over the past few years due to its members’ misconduct. Several members trashed a sushi restaurant, someone stood on an aspiring member’s head during hazing, and a sexist ‘bang list’ twice made the rounds. It also turned out that incidents during the initiation period reported either late or not at all.

Last academic year, the association got its committee grants back but it lost its accreditation due to several incidents during the pandemic. This meant that Vindicat was banned from any and all official university events. They weren’t welcomed back until this past September.

After the events in 2016 that led to the club losing its privileges, they made efforts towards a ‘cultural change’. Among other things, they changed their alcohol policies during the initiation period, and the year clubs that organised a bus party during the lockdown were punished.

If

The Vindicat rector says the behaviour displayed on Friday is unacceptable and that people will once again be punished for the incident. ‘We strongly denounce any form of destruction and violence’, she says. ‘If it turns out that Vindicat members were involved, we will be taking action.’

At the same time, Veken says it hasn’t definitely been determined that the people who misbehaved were Vindicat members. She also says that nothing was actually destroyed. In the statement Vindicat published on Sunday, the rector also points out that the incident took place ‘outside the party location’, and that the licences and security at the party itself were all in order.

The main question during the meetings and the council discussion will be: what does this incident, and the way the association is handling it, say about the current culture at Vindicat?

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