‘De Volkskrant’ revealed a little of the usually closed world of initiation ceremonies on Friday. Two Amsterdam University students and one TU Delft student talked about their upsetting experiences. Anonymously, as the TU Delft student said, ‘There are Delftsch Studenten Corps members in my study’s committees. Almost all the student houses in Delft have people who are members or who know members. If they hear that I have talked about the initiation period, I will never hear the end of it.’
The stories in the article (in Dutch) are alarming. The TU Delft student talked about an incident in which candle wax was poured on the aspiring members and someone’s hair caught fire. Fortunately the person was not injured, but it was ‘a kind of power game by nasty people.’ And, ‘the sadism got worse as more alcohol was drunk’.
The story shows similarities with a case that TU Delft is currently investigating, says spokesperson Karen Collet. What exactly happened and whether TU Delft will impose sanctions will only be known once the investigation is finished. Collet cannot give an exact date, “But I do not expect it to last months”.
Collet emphasises that there is a reason that there are agreements (in Dutch) between TU Delft and the student associations about what is permissible. “TU Delft believes that it is important that there are student associations and an induction period as this helps students settle well into their new environment. But it is incumbent on everyone to behave decently.” For this reason, Virgiel (in Dutch) and the Corps (in Dutch) had sanctions imposed on them.
According to Collet, things have improved in the last few years. One sign of this is the openness with which the associations report incidents and unintentional accidents.
Delta of course asked the Corps for a response. The editor asked how the article was received in the association and whether the Corps is considering taking action to break the fear and culture of silence and make it easier to report incidents. However, after Delta’s telephone contact with the Senate, no response was given.
- Update 30 September, 14:26
After the publication of this article, the Corps sent a reply - according to Senate President Olivier Abbenhuis, something had gone wrong with its transmission earlier. To Delta’s questions, the Corps responds as follows:
“From the beginning of the Initiation Period, we have been explicitly making it clear that a counsellor can be called upon at any time. These persons explicitly assist the new students. There is also a medical team that can be approached at any time when a new student feels the need. We actively try, year after year, to remove every possible barrier to reporting. Our reaction to the Volkskrant article, which was missing due to a technical error at the Volkskrant, can be found on our website. We still stand behind it.”
On its website, the Corps writes that it cannot comment on individual cases. “Specifically, we inform you that we are not aware of any story of hair that has caught fire due to candle wax. Such an incident would not pass unnoticed by us. There have been no noteworthy incidents at our club in recent years.
Generally speaking, this period has gone well, apart from a few minor incidents. These we regret, but also seem inevitable in situations where large groups of people interact intensively. The DSC has more than 2000 members, so monitoring every individual at every moment is not possible.”
- If you wish to share your initiation experiences, if necessary anonymously, with us, mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through Instagram. We will treat your report confidentially.