Student societies should be more open about the initiation period and account for the introduction. This is the message that was conveyed to the societies during a conversation with rector magnificus Arthur Mol.
The conversation took place last Friday, upon request of the student societies KSV and Ceres. The reason for this conversation was the appeal that Mol made to stop excessive initiations. With this appeal, he took up the national discussion about initiation rituals that arose after the excesses at the Groningen student society Vindicat. Present during the conversation were also SSR and Argo, the smaller student societies, as well as the mayor of Wageningen.
Mol is not after an abolition of the introduction. ‘It is a good thing that the societies have introductions. But it is a fact that they sometimes run off the rails. Initiations that involve humiliation, intimidation, violence and a lack of respect for each other are behind the times’, said Mol to explain his point of view to the student societies.
According to Mol, the student societies should be more aware of the impact that this kind of activities could have on the current state of society. ‘As the committee organising the introduction, you should realise that activities that are deemed normal within a student society are seen as strongly aberrant by the outside world. In a time when information travels fast and instantaneously becomes available to everyone, you need to account for that.’
‘Society is ever-changing. That which used to be decent in former times, is not seen as such anymore’, continues the Rector Magnificus. ‘I see several mismatches; student societies aim for an excessive initiation time, while the general trend in society is becoming to find that unacceptable.’ According to Mol, not only the image of the student societies is in danger, but also that of the university and of the municipality of Wageningen.
Despite all this, there will be no rules or hard agreements. Mol: ‘No, that is not the way we are going to do it. I do not want to take on the role of police officer. We are not threatening with sanctions either. I do not feel like doing that, besides: it is much too early for that. The conversation was meant to make the student societies aware of their own position and responsibilities. I want the student societies to hold internal discussions about an introduction time that fits the current times.’
According to Mol, it is especially important that the student societies become more open about their introductions. ‘You could show your current activities in YouTube movies, for example. Right now, there is a shroud of mystery wrapped around initiation rituals. Make it easier for people to reach you when they see something that they deem weird. A kind of hot-line, as it were. Make sure to open dialogue with society.’