The Stip and PvdA city council parties have submitted written questions (link in Dutch) to Delft’s Mayor and Aldermen about the rape of students. The reason is Amnesty International research which shows that 11% of female and 1% of male students in the Netherlands are raped during their student years.
Under ‘rape’, Amnesty understands all forms of non-consensual physical penentration such as with a penis, fingers or an object. There does not always need to be violence. This definition will also be used in a pending change to the law.
Stip and PvdA are concerned about ‘the mental health of students in Delft’. They believe that everyone in Delft should feel safe. This is the reason they asked the Mayor and Aldermen what Delft is doing ‘to address the subject of rape and make it open for discussion’. What role should educational institutions, including TU Delft, play in ‘providing information regarding consent in sexual activity’?
‘Our student associations must take action’
This week the Student Council posed similar questions to the Executive Board of TU Delft. What is TU Delft’s role in supporting victims and in changing the culture, asked Council member Marijn Roelvink. She also suggested a wider consultation with the municipality and study and student associations. She argued for better information provision during the first weeks of the new academic year or the OWee and clearer reporting and complaints procedures. “We need to break the taboo and create the momentum for structural change.”
Change in culture
In an initial response, Executive Board member Rob Mudde told the Student Council that he has discussed the subject with Amnesty. He supports information campaigns during or around the start of the academic year and making it easier to find help at TU Delft.
He also mentioned the need for a change in culture. Mudde advised Amnesty to delve into the depths of student life as quickly as possible. “This must go much further than just a discussion between us. We must make students aware of it. Our student associations must take action.” According to Mudde, rape and sexual molestation often happen among people who know each other. “Many things are still regarded as a matter of tradition, but this is not 1950 anymore. Perpetrators cannot hide behind ‘I drank too much’. You are always responsible for your own behaviour.”
By Saskia Bonger and Marjolein van der Veldt