The university’s Commissie Studentenverenigingen (Student Associations Committee, successor to the Commissie Kennismakingstijd) states it has ‘sufficient confidence in a change of culture at RSC/RVSV’. The committee did note that the ‘association hasn’t rounded off this process yet, since a change of culture costs time.’ RSC/RVSV president Amber Schothorst says she is ‘tremendously happy’ to hear the news.
The university withdrew its formal recognition of RSC/RVSV in January 2018, after a broadcast of the television programme ‘Rambam’ brought various abuses during its initiation ceremonies to light. ‘Rambam’ reported that during the hazing of the male students in 2017, one of the freshers had to be treated for a head injury at the hospital. It soon became clear that the Rambam editors couldn’t substantiate all the claims made in the broadcast – a conclusion that was also reached by the RSC/RVSV members themselves. One of the students had fainted, which may have led to this misunderstanding, noted former president Tobias de Lange at the time.
However, in an interview with EM, the then rector, Huib Pols, said that he felt ‘taken for a ride’ by the corps. “I find [the footage] concerning. There are multiple testimonies of transgressive behaviour. It’s incredibly annoying that even though we say time and time again that physical contact is unacceptable, it happens nevertheless. Each time round we say: intimidating people is not allowed. Yet it happens anyway,” Pols said in January.
Pols demanded a detailed report on everything that happened during the introduction period, as well as a reflection on these events and which measures the corps would be taking. The student association needed to make concrete, far-reaching changes to regain the university’s trust. One of the key moments to measure its progress was the recent introduction period in August, which had to comply with the recently signed code of conduct.
Change of culture
The current rector, Rutger Engels, believes RSC/RVSV is on the right track. “The association has organised dialogue sessions to raise awareness of the change of culture, and will keep doing so for some time. The 2018 introduction period also differed from previous editions in terms of structure. The association has put a strong focus on the guidelines, rules of conduct and acceptable interaction. In addition, the corps has appointed an independent confidential counsellor,” writes the university.
The commissie Studentengezelligheidsverenigingen will be keeping a close eye on RSC/RVS’s progress, however. “It’s a long-term process.” This perspective is shared by RSC/RVSV-president Amber Schothorst: “The decision confirms that we’re on the right track, but we realise that we still have a long way to go. We have completely overhauled our introduction period. Last academic year, we agreed a number of explicit rules with the university. We’ll be putting more focus on humour, creating a bond among students in the same year and introducing members to the association. And we can already see the results. A major change like this of course isn’t made in a day. We need to develop it over time – but it’s great to know we have the university’s support.”