Outgoing mayor Peter den Oudsten threatened to close student association Vindicat altogether after yet another violent incident which caused grave bodily harm to one of its members.
Translation by Traci White
Sikkom filed a Freedom of Information Act request (known as WOB in Dutch) in order to gain access to documents about the incident, which occurred in May 2018. During the association’s annual “Buitenspel” celebrations, a member of the association was injured, but the board of Vindicat refused to provide the name of the victim to the police, which prevented them from investigating the incident.
Formal government warning
The mayor issued a formal governmental warning against the association in July 2018. The formal warning is reportedly in effect until July 2019, and any further missteps would be grounds for the mayor to consider temporarily closing the fraternity altogether or withdrawing their operating permit.
In response to the warning, the board was reportedly “deeply shocked” by the suggestion that the society would be closed and its permits revoked: the incident in question occurred off site. The members claimed that such a response would have “far-reaching consequences” and would pose a fundamental threat to the future of the association’s members and its very existence. The association also expressed their regret about the violence.
Cutting financial ties
The mayor wrote back to the association that whether the altercation occurred at their headquarters on the Grote Markt or elsewhere was irrelevant: “The fact that this happened in the first place is sufficient grounds to issue a formal warning.” A spokesperson for the mayor told Dagblad van het Noorden that the issuance of such a warning is exceedingly rare.
The warning was in response not only to the violent incident in May but also to previously underreported altercations, including when one member was reportedly assaulted by two fellow members in December 2017. The fraternity failed to inform the University of Groningen or the Hanze about the December case, which violated the code of conduct which Vindicat signed and was therefore grounds to cut financial ties with the association for at least a year.
The latest incidents are just the two most recent examples in a long list of violent, sexist and destructive events which have happened in the past few years involving members of the association. In the 2016/2017 academic year, a so called “bang list” featuring pictures and contact information for female members of the fraternity describing how sexually appealing they were was circulated among the fraternity, and a male member of the fraternity was hospitalised after an upperclassman stood on his head during a social event.
Photo source: Google Maps
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Vindicat member may have suffered a broken arm. It is unclear what the nature of his or her injuries were.