Associations reporting more violations of hazing code of conduct

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A drunk association member falls asleep among candidate-members during the introduction camp organised by one of Utrecht’s student associations. When he wakes, he pees on an aspiring member, his sleeping bag and mattress. The association acts immediately, lets the aspiring member take a shower, and provides him with clean things. The urinator is sent home and suspended.

It’s one of seventeen incidents reported to the Advisory Committee Introduction Time Utrecht (AIU) this summer. The seven large student associations are required to report to this committee about the ups and downs of the introduction time. The AIU ensures the associations adhere to the code of conduct.

Of the seventeen incidents, four are in violation of the code of conduct. That’s the same number of violations as in the past seven years – combined. The advisory committee reported these incidents to the university board immediately, as prescribed in the code of conduct.

UU spokesperson Maarten Post says the report shows the associations were in close contact with the advisory committee. “The university and university of applied sciences feel this is very important. There’s clearly a willingness to report honestly amongst the associations, and the boards are taking their responsibility.”

Number of reports at the Advisory Committee Introduction Time Utrecht (AIU). Blue: total number of reports. Orange: number of violations of conduct code

Pressured to drink alcohol

The AIU report shows that multiple association members were suspended for their behaviour during this summer’s introduction period. Seven of the seventeen incidents resulted in the suspension of one or multiple members. At one association, for example, several members aren’t welcome until after Christmas, because they disrupted the introduction camp, causing ‘a number of aspiring members to be physically affected’. The report, which has fully anonymised all incidents, doesn’t elaborate on what this means.

When pressed for comment, the university says two aspiring members were thrown to the ground by a group of association members. “As the AIU says, the board responded appropriately,” says spokesperson Maarten Post. “The members were suspended, and after the introduction time, there was a conversation between the association board, a UU executive board member, an AIU member, and an HU representative. This particular group of members is required to be present at the 2019 Playbook of the introduction time meeting of the associations and the AIU.”

In two other cases, members were suspended because aspiring members felt pressured to drink alcohol. Another member was sent away during the introduction period for literally stepping on someone’s toes. And yet another member was suspended for forcefully hitting an aspiring member on the shoulder with a fan.

Lice outbreak and unfortunate slide accident
The nature of the incidents reported varies. One aspiring member was hit by a golf kart; another broke a tooth during an activity; one candidate got a large gash in his foot from landing in a piece of glass after going down a slide, and one of the camps had to deal with a lice outbreak. Several aspiring association members had to either go to hospital or go home for medical reasons such as migraine, appendicitis, and UTIs. The Advisory Committee says association boards responded appropriately and carefully to these incidents.

A ‘medical’ incident that the committee says should have been prevented, happened in the mess hall of one of the introduction camps. Because the tent hadn’t been aired properly – and was therefore very hot – three aspiring members fainted, and 25 to 30 became unwell. “It was handled adequately, but the AIU has told the association the situation should have been prevented; it could have led to a dangerous situation. The temperature inside the tent should have been checked earlier, and there should have been enough drinking water at the scene,” the report says.

Seventeen incidents at four associations

The incidents reported this year happened at UVSV (7 reported incidents), USC (4), Veritas (5), and UMTC (1). Biton, SSR-Nu and Unitas didn’t report any incidents.

In the past 15 years, the student associations in Utrecht reported a total of 180 incidents. Of these, 22 were then reported to the university board. Unitas reported the highest number of incidents: 1 in 3 reports came from them. SSR-Nu holds up the other end of the spectrum, with only one report in fifteen years’ time. The other reported incidents happened at UMTC (2), Biton (6), UVSV (24), USC (31), and Veritas (55).

This year, four of the seventeen incidents were judged severe enough to report to the UU’s Executive Board. That means the number of reported violations equals those of the past seven years combined. Only 2007 and 2010 saw a higher number of incidents (5 in both years). Other years generally saw either one or none at all.

Although the number of violations of the Code of Conduct is higher than in previous years, the advisory committee says it’s not worrisome. The increase in the number of reports should be seen as ‘a positive sign’. “It shows the associations aren’t afraid to contact the AIU quickly to consult on whatever situation there is. It’d be speculation to blame this on the attention from the press on the introduction period phenomenon that we’ve seen this year.”

The seventeen incidents

Of the seven student associations in Utrecht, four reported a total of seventeen incidents with the Advisory Committee Introduction Time Utrecht (AIU) during this summer’s introduction time.  To get an idea of the types of incidents reported, we’ll provide a short summary of each incident. The DUB editors do not know which incident happened at which association, or whether the people involved were male or female, and will refer to the people involved with the singular ‘they’. 

An aspiring member is hit by a golf cart. They are unharmed. Aspiring member quits the introduction time a few days later, explaining the incident was not the reason behind the decision: they want to focus on their studies.

An aspiring member bumps into a fence during an activity, breaking off a piece of tooth. The candidate was taken to see a dentist, and then re-joined the introduction period to the end. Afterwards, the association got in touch with the person’s mother, who was shocked, but content with the way the association had handled the situation.

An association member ‘forcefully’ slaps an aspiring member on the shoulder with a fan. The member is made to apologise and is barred from the remainder of the introduction period.

Special purses (to be worn around the neck) were supposed to be handed out to aspiring members who are dependent on medication, but due to a miscommunication, there aren’t enough. The issue is solved within 24 hours.

Three aspiring members faint, and 25 to 30 become unwell, due to the heat in a dining tent. The introduction committee provides assistance, and the programme is continued after around 15 minutes. The AIU says the situation should have been prevented. “It could have led to a dangerous situation.”

A number of members gives a drink of port wine to an aspiring member. The aspiring member felt as though they couldn’t refuse the offer. The association’s board offers their apologies, and the members involved are penalised. The AIU reports to the UU’s Executive Board that the code of conduct, point 2.3, has been violated. This point mentions alcohol for aspiring members is prohibited.

An aspiring member ‘regularly shows unusual behaviour’ both verbally and non-verbally. The aspiring member could be a threat to other (aspiring) members. After intensive discussions with someone in the advisory committee who has a background in psychology, the board decides to bar him from the introduction period. The decision is then explained to the student and one of their parents. “The board has stated the aspiring member was only banned for the remainder of this year, but would be welcome to re-join next year.”

An aspiring member is suspected of having appendicitis, and is taken to the hospital for further investigation. The member is advised to rest, which they do at home, as a surgery is scheduled for a few days later. A few days later, the student re-joins the introduction time, in an adjusted programme.

A member of a sub-committee of the Introduction Time Committee falls asleep, drunk, in the tent with aspiring members. When the member wakes up, they pee all over an aspiring member. Said aspiring member is taken to the showers immediately, and receives new sleeping gear (mattress and sleeping bag). The member was reprimanded, barred from the camp, relieved of his duties, and suspended. The advisory committee states the code of conduct was breached in two points in this instance. First, the code of conduct states alcohol may only be served in moderation. Second, the committee says this was a violation of the physical integrity of the aspiring member.

A group of members disrupts the introduction camp during a visit. Despite requests to stick to the code of conduct, this doesn’t happen. “A number of aspiring members was physically affected.” The entire group of association members is removed from the grounds. These members are all banned from association activities for six weeks. The members responsible for the physical contact are suspended until Christmas. The advisory committee says the code of conduct was violated. The code states physical or mental violence against aspiring members is prohibited. The advisory committee advises the UU’s Executive Board to call for associations to prevent this type of situation in the future.

An association member kicks an aspiring member on the toes. Because the aspiring member had broken his toe a month before, a check-up is done in hospital. The toe is not broken or ruptured. The association member is barred from the introduction period. The AIU says the rule on physical violence was broken.

An aspiring member is sent home due to renal impairment and a urinary tract infection. The association was aware of the health issues, but despite precautions, the aspiring member developed pyelonephritis. Because the student misses out on part of the introduction time, they’re officially not allowed to join the association, but – considering the circumstances – the board makes an exception.

An aspiring member’s migraine worsens, despite medication. The member seems hazy. The doctor advises rest, so the aspiring member goes home for a few days. After recovering, the aspiring member re-joins the introduction activities, with a few preventative measures in place, such as altered nutrition, and more moments of rest.

During a game, an aspiring member has to go down a slide, into the water. They end up falling into a piece of glass. The general practitioner sutures a ‘severe gash’ in their foot. The student is then taken to a temporary address, and receives pain medication. The board takes measures to ensure the student doesn’t tax their foot for 48 hours.

A number of (aspiring) members are found to have head lice. Everyone is combed through and checked.

The counsellor of the association reports a member appears to have taken away the ‘ball book’ of an aspiring member, and has thrown it on the ground. After this, they were splashed with beer. The board investigates but finds no proof. Still, the member involved is suspended for the remainder of the introduction time.

An aspiring member receives a drink of beer from a member. The aspiring member feels as if they’re not allowed to refuse, and feels pressured. The board reprimands the member, and suspends them. The advisory committee reports the incident to the UU’s Executive Board, because it’s a violation of the code of conduct.