More infringements to code of conduct registered during introduction week

Student association Unitas reopens after pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020. An aspiring member claimed on Twitter that violent incidents took place during the association's 2021 introduction. Photo: DUB

The tweet (in Dutch), published by a student of the university of applied sciences, is alarming. She reports that her eye caught a shard of a plate during an introduction event at student association Unitas. But that's not all: according to her, other people have been hit and some even fainted. That's why the aspiring member chose to quit the hazing.

Unitas Chair Jelle Paulus finds it "unpleasant" that the tweet has started to lead a life on its own on social media, without rebuttal. According to him, the association engaged in a conversation with the student immediately. He also refers to a statement published on Unitas' website, in which the association claims that the incidents had not been reported until then, making it hard for them to find out exactly what happened. 

A small act
The association does not know whether someone has fainted or not. Regarding the two other complaints, some possible explanations are suggested. The shard in the eye – from which the student no longer suffers – could be connected with an incident in which a member smashed a plate on his own head. "This will not happen again", Unitas writes.

The student who authored the tweets did not actually see the other student supposedly being hit. Unitas suspects that she's heard about a short enactment performed during the introduction, in which two members got into a mock fight.

Code was not violated
As expected by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU) and Utrecht University (UU), Unitas gave notice of the student's utterances at the Advice Committee Introduction Period Utrecht (AIU in the Dutch acronym), which supervises the enforcement of the Introduction Period's code of conduct, signed yearly by all associations since 2003.

The AIU notes that, in this case, there are no indications that Unitas has violated the code. The advice committee receives dozens of notifications from associations, participants or outsiders regarding incidents or alleged incidents during the introduction period. The UU and HU boards are only notified if there is a legal violation of the code of conduct (document in Dutch). 

DUB tried to contact the student on Twitter, but she did not respond.

Touching or pushing
A spokesperson for UU stated that the AIU has reported eight infringements of the code, reported by various associations to the institution's boards. All cases concerned minor violations, such as touching or pushing an aspiring member.

The amount of infringements had never been this high. In 2020, the introduction week took place mostly online because of the pandemic and, in 2019, only three incidents were reported. In previous years, the amount never exceeded five infringements.

According to the advice committee, the associations' boards have acted adequately by suspending the responsible members for the remainder of the introduction week or a whole month. Furthermore, in the annual report about the 2019 introduction week, AIU had already stated that "the associations and the introduction committees have their affairs in good order".

In control
The hazing activities of student associations have made news after several infringements commited by fraternities of the Amsterdam Student Corps.

UU is still waiting for AIU's complete annual reportbut does not expect any significant problems based on the preliminary findings.

"In general, we are happy with the way the associations make an effort and take responsibility if a member disregards all agreements and violates the code of conduct", the university reacts. "That’s how it’s supposed to be.”