At present the university does not have a code of conduct – just a list of areas of concern. Furthermore, the university has an Initiation Period Committee (KMT), which monitors hazing practices on a basis of confidentiality.

The discussion regarding student societies’ hazing period was put on the agenda again in response to a broadcast of the Rambam TV show, in which an ‘undercover fresher’ claimed that a first-year student had got injured during RSC’s initiation period. According to Huib Pols, the supposed ‘victim’ of the incident anonymously contacted him and told him that he did not sustain his injury during a hazing ritual.

'High trust, low tolerance'

Even so, the incident prompted the university to formulate a code of conduct. Pols says the decision to do so was made before the Rambam broadcast. The University Council would like to see a code of conduct governing both societies’ initiation periods and the hazing practices carried out by sub-societies and student houses.

Pols wishes to include all these things in the code of conduct, but has warned people not to get their hopes up too high. “The main thing is ‘high trust, low tolerance’,” the Rector said during a University Council committee meeting.

The Rector denied that the university’s faith was betrayed by the fact that incidents involving physical contact were not reported. “I was notified of the incident discussed in the Rambam broadcast the day after it happened. At the time, the notification mainly took the form of a medical report, which is why we requested more information. We were still waiting to hear back from them when the broadcast provided us with more information. It wasn’t the lack of a notification that caused me to suspend RSC, but rather the fact that they neglected to tell us that there had been physical contact.”

Committee to have different composition

Pols is also considering changing the composition of the Initiation Period Committee that monitors societies’ hazing practices. In its current form, the committee consists entirely of employees of Erasmus MC and EUR, despite the fact that, as Pols pointed out, more and more students of universities of applied sciences are joining societies. “I will be discussing this with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, as well.”

The Rector will also consider the Council’s request that a student be allowed to join the Committee. “But it should be someone the societies can put their trust in. Because if there is no trust, societies quite simply won’t report things any longer.”

Societies involved in drafting document

Saskia Dusseljee, the President of the Rotterdam Chamber of Societies (RKvV), confirms that RKvV, its member student societies and Skadi are drawing up a code of conduct together, on which they are receiving feedback from the Committee and the Rector. “We expect that this will increase the societies’ awareness of the issues and that the code of conduct will give societies and their members a handle that will help them ensure that the initiation period goes off without any hitches,” Dusseljee told us by email. She expects to be able to submit the definitive version of the document to EUR by late March.