27 December 2017

Utrecht University and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht suspend subsidies UVSV

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Utrecht University decided together to suspend the subsidies and management-participation grants of the student society UVSV, effective immediately. The UVSV board will also not be welcome at academic ceremonies for the time being. The reasons for this are the incidents during the orientation period that were reported on by the TV show Rambam. Rambam had someone participate undercover during the introduction period.

On footage that Rambam showed to the Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University and to the President of the Advisory Committee Introduction Period Utrecht (Dutch name: Adviescommissie Introductietijd Utrecht, AIU), showed, among other things, how someone is fed with a spoon. A prospective member also states that asthma medication was taken away and a girl states that she was spit on. “The footage is insufficient to determine the cause of every case beyond question,” says Rector Magnificus Bert van der Zwaan. “But the footage does provide a very nasty image of the orientation.” UVSV has stated to be startled by the footage and that they will launch a thorough investigation. Van der Zwaan: “We will resume conversation based on the results of that investigation, the actions taken, an improvement plan, and observed improvements and we will restore relations once we are convinced that everything is in order.”

Utrecht has had a code of conduct for student societies since 2003, which is updated regularly. The schedules for the orientation period are inspected beforehand by the AIU. Every year, societies sign the code of conduct in a meeting with the Rector Magnificus of the university and the President of the university of applied sciences. “In doing so, they indicate that they understand their responsibilities and are willing to take responsibility for a safe orientation period, in which the health, personal integrity and hygiene of prospective members is guaranteed at all times,” says Van der Zwaan. Incidents are to be reported to the AIU. This independent advisory committee determines whether or not the code of conduct has been violated and whether or not the society has taken adequate action, such as suspending a member who was out of line.

The president of the Advisory Committee has reviewed the footage provided by Rambam and advised to give the UVSV the opportunity to do a thorough investigation. The University and the University of Applied Sciences agree with this advice. Bert van der Zwaan: “Utrecht University and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht encourage students to seek each other out and develop activities outside their degree programmes as well. UVSV has a long tradition. Student societies are an appreciated part of student life to many students.” According to the Rector Magnificus, the University and the University of Applied Sciences cannot be held responsible for how students behave in their own time. “Of course, we do determine whether or not we want to be associated with it and whether or not we financially support societies. We act on trust, but there will be zero tolerance if that trust is betrayed. We don't want to hear the word hazing. That is outdated. A mutually respectful orientation is required.”