The questions had been asked in relation to the incidents revealed by the Rambam TV show, which went undercover at hazing rituals carried out by the Rotterdam-based RSC/RVSV association and the Utrecht-based UVSV sorority, among other student societies.

The Dutch Labour Party not only wished to hear how the Minister felt about the incidents, but also what she planned to do about them. Her answer: not an awful lot, as long as universities and universities of applied sciences implement proper measures themselves.

“I think it is up to the institutions themselves to take measures when impermissible and humiliating incidents have occurred,” she wrote. In a separate letter to the House, sent simultaneously, she pointed to agreements on alcohol intake, sleeping hours and physical contact concluded between educational institutions and their student associations.

The right message

If the students fail to comply with the agreements, they will bear the consequences. “Institutions are not afraid to take measures, such as cancelling subsidies and grants for the associations’ board members,” the Minister wrote. “In addition, some institutions have decided to (temporarily) bar certain student associations from attending various types of academic events. I think they are sending out the right message.”

It should be noted that as far as this is concerned, Van Engelshoven is following in the footsteps of her predecessor, PvdA Minister Jet Bussemaker, whose policy was also to make the educational institutions responsible for their student associations’ behaviour, although she did wish to ‘monitor’ the situation.