Dutch fraternities criticised after start of new school year
Just after universities have started, Dutch fraternities are under scrutiny for their extreme, and sometimes dangerous, hazing rituals and the wild behaviour of their members.
What is hazing?
Hazing is the practice of subjecting aspiring members, or pledges, to a series of tests and assignments as a rite of passage before they join the fraternity. The students are sworn to permanent secrecy about the precise content of the trials.
Hazing includes actions like not washing or eating for a certain amount of time, acting as servants to senior members, and dressing up and/or acting in a humiliating fashion. Alcohol often plays a prominent part.
Hazing hospitalisations in 2016
Hazing in the Amsterdam Student Corps, or ASC, has led to three students being sent to hospital. Pledges were told to, among others, jump into the canals and spend the night sleeping on garbage.
Of the three students, one had to stay in hospital for a longer period of time due to an intestinal infection, aggravated by fatigue. One of the students had pneumonia, and the third had injured his ankle.
In Groningen fraternity Vindicat, a student ended up in hospital with severe head injuries. Witnesses state that he was beaten, and suffered a brain oedema.
Photographs were found in which young students were roughly pushed down onto a table by three men as part of a hazing ritual.
In earlier years, hazing at Vindicat has led to one death after a member was forced to drink a litre of jenever (a predecessor to gin), and one member was set on fire and ended up with multiple burns.
Shaming female members
Another occurrence that has been generating discussion is the "Banga" list.
In this list, female members of a fraternity are graded and shamed for their supposed sexual exploits and physical appearance. "Banga" is a street term that means "slut".
"Banga" lists have been appearing in the Netherlands, and in later years in Belgium as well. This year, a list was created by unknown members of Groningen fraternity Vindicat, the same fraternity in which a student was hospitalised.
Female students are listed by photograph, name, phone number, address and a number of stars that represents how good they are supposed to be in bed.
These lists are generally created without the consent or knowledge of the subjects, and their circulation is considered a form of bullying and sexism.
Denied Cultural Heritage status
As of August this year, Dutch fraternities were supposed to be appointed a national Cultural Heritage status, due to their over 200-year-old history and traditions.
However, in the last few days the commotion surrounding the hospitalisations and the "Banga" list has caused this decision to be put on hold.