The Wageningen student societies KSV Franciscus and Ceres see no reason to change the current design of their initiations. They disregard the moral appeal that rector magnificus Arthur Mol made earlier.
Freshmen of Ceres in the Wageningen Heerenstraat in 2000. Photo: Guy Ackermans
‘We currently see no reason for change’, says Tom van Geelen, praeses of KSV Franciscus. According to Van Geelen, strong social control and safety measures ensure the ‘fine functioning’ of the KSV initiation. Prospective members do not drink alcohol, there is always a first aider present and members are extensively prepared. ‘With the current ways of initiation, I could not fathom things that happened in Groningen occurring here.’
Van Geelen also points to the fact that all larger initiation scandals took place outside of Wageningen. The small-scale nature of the Wageningen student life would make for a strong social control. He acknowledges that group bonding is also possible in other ways, but he is also of the opinion that initiation rituals are traditionally part of student societies. According to him, the Groningen scandal does not change anything about that.
Janneke Sloet van Oldruitenborgh, president of student society Ceres, does not see a reason to change the script of the society either. ‘At Ceres, we speak of an introduction period, not an initiation. Violent initiation rituals and scenes are not in order in our society. We hold norms and values in high esteem, and discrimination is not tolerated. That is simply way behind the times. Our goal is to have prospective members get to know the society in an as pleasant way as possible; we call that an introduction, not an initiation.’
Contract of confidentiality
Sloet van Oldruitenborgh states that Ceres is open to discuss matters with the Rector Magnificus. She also understands that he worries as a consequence of the incident in Groningen. ‘It has gone well for such a long time at Ceres, and we have never had problems before. That is why we think that discontinuation is not necessary. We wouldn’t even know what kind of measures we would have to take, as everything always goes well.’
KSV-praeses Van Geelen agrees. ‘It is entirely understandable that the discussion arises. Someone was hurt physically during an introduction.’ This is why he is certainly willing to engage in dialogue with the Rector Magnificus, or to see if KSV and other societies can learn from each other. He also states that societies do not need to be secretive. ‘We do not have a contract of confidentiality.’