Oust them quietly and move on

It’s happened again. There’s been another dust-up at Vindicat. During the association’s annual winter party, a member was beat up. The news about these excesses at the country’s oldest fraternity is almost becoming commonplace, but it’s still hard to swallow. Every time something comes up, the general reaction is: again?
By Thereza Langeler

In September 2016, a bang list containing 22 first-year female Vindicat members was leaked. The list’s creators said it contained the new batch’s ‘hottest chicks’, and that the frat’s ‘ugly bitches’ pussies should be destroyed’.

Shortly thereafter, it was announced that a violent incident occurred a month earlier, during the introduction period. Senior member Wouter B. stood on an aspiring member’s head in the basement of Mutua Fides, the association’s club house. The student had to be admitted to the hospital.

Sushi Mall

Early on in the 2017-2018 academic year, a group of Vindicat students was having dinner at the Sushi Mall restaurant. The association members peed against the walls, stole bottles of wine, broke glassware, and mistreated the staff, other restaurant guests and neighbours reported seeing. The association’s board maintained, however, that it hadn’t been all that bad. In fact, nothing had really happened at all.

Interestingly enough, the association had just received accreditation. According to the accreditation committee, Vindicat had shown it was capable of ‘critical self-reflection’ and displayed ‘the willingness to change’.

After ‘sushigate’, the RUG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences suspended the Vindicat board’s committee grants. It was a punishment and a warning at once: if the association behaved itself for the rest of the year, the board members would receive their committee grants after all.

Beat up

On 3 December 2017, exactly three months after ‘sushigate’, a Vindicat member was beat up at the association’s club house, the Dagblad van het Noorden reported on Tuesday. And so it’s happened again. There’s been another dust-up at Vindicat.

In the summer, Vindicat promised that they would be better and change their culture. In the autumn, the association smashed up a restaurant, an incident that the board played down. In the winter, two association members beat up another member, an incident that the board concealed.

Perhaps it wasn’t rector Marc Mohr’s fault that a fight broke out in a jam-packed club house. No one is capable of controlling a thousand drunk twenty-somethings. But why did he conceal the incident for almost five months? Especially when he had an obligation to report it?

‘Negligent and stupid’

Mohr himself says his actions were ‘negligent and stupid’. ‘I should have known’, the Dagblad van het Noorden quotes him. Does that mean he didn’t know? Did he, in September, sign a code of conduct promising to do better without actually reading it? That’s unlikely.

Another possibility is that Mohr deliberately concealed the incident, a suspicion the rector is now inviting. The fraternity presents itself as a civilised club, but when it comes down to it, they do what they’ve always done: quietly oust these bruisers, pretend nothing is going on, move on.

The RUG made a clear demand in September of last year: no new incidents were allowed to happen at Vindicat. Now that one has come to pass after all, the university is in a tough spot.

Bad apples

If it does nothing, their ‘strict conditions and agreements’ will lose all credibility, because apparently these can be violated without punishment. But if it is too strong in its response, it might hurt those Vindicat members who aren’t to blame for the behaviour of the bad apples.

‘We’re really trying our best. Our members talk about our future often, so that’s a positive. I hope to be able to receive the grants at the end of the year after all’, a cheerful Marc Mohr told the UK in September of 2017, referring to the suspended committee grants.

If he wants to stand even the smallest chance of seeing those words come true, he will have to come up with one hell of a story to tell the Advice Committee Orientation. ‘Negligent’ and ‘stupid’ will probably not be enough. The RUG cannot accept that excuse.


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