Zwarte Piet still welcome at the RUG

A small majority of Dutch students in Groningen are in favor of keeping the traditional Zwarte Piet. Interestingly, the numbers among international students are almost the same, according to a UK poll.

The UK asked 100 RUG students about their opinions on Zwarte Piet. By and large, the Dutch students want to keep the character as he is – they say it’s meant for children and it’s tradition. Around 30 percent consider Zwarte Piet offensive, racist or old fashioned. But about 20 percent of respondents said that they don’t have an opinion, mostly because they’re tired of the debate.

Less stereotypical

Remarkably, international students are generally in favor of the traditional Zwarte Piet, too. Only 26 percent of them are against it, and even fewer want it to change: a mere 15 percent. There are more Dutch students than internationals who think that the depiction of the character should change, but not many. What’s more, 40 percent of the poll respondents said they thought the character should be made less stereotypical. One-third are in favor of different colors, but the rest offer other solutions, like giving Piet the appearance of a Spanish nobleman.

Sinterklaas Journal

In any case, the Sinterklaas celebration at the RUG will not be changing. The holiday party in the Harmonie building, home to the arts and law faculties, will remain the same, as well as in the Faculty of Economics and Business. Although the arts and law faculties asked their international staff for their opinion before making that decision, FEB did not.

As for UMCG, they always base their depiction of Zwarte Piet on the national Sinterklaas Journal, a holiday television programme for children. It seems that, at least for now, the RUG isn’t making any changes to the tradition.