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Nowadays, students must be reminded through a code of conduct what is normal within our society.

Respect for each other and integrity within the student associations form an essential basis for free mobility within the academic community. Being able to move and mingle in different social and educational circles without fear of discrimination or abuse is a fundamental right of every student. Implementation of this Code of Conduct is a step in the right direction, but continued vigilance and action are needed to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

Nearly fifty student associations sign a code of conduct drawn up to prevent inappropriate behavior within their ranks. The need for such a code is a clear indication that even within the university community there is still a need for guidelines that promote respect, integrity and responsibility. In addition to the associations themselves, the twelve Local Chambers of Associations (PKvVs) and the National Chamber of Associations (LKvV) have also expressed their support by signing the code of conduct. The official signing will take place in the Academy Building in Utrecht, where ASC, Vindicat and the Tilburg Student Corps Sint Olof, among others, participated in a panel discussion. Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf was expected to receive the code of conduct.

The incidents that form the basis of this new code of conduct are numerous and worrying. For example, the Amsterdam student association Lanx was sanctioned last year after revelations about degrading assignments during hazing rituals. New members had to, among other things, 'arrange a refugee' and 'screw' a woman in an alley, which led to direct measures from educational institutions: the association was cut financially and excluded from academic events. 

Also received the Maastricht student association Tragos sanctions imposed by Maastricht University in 2023 due to similar transgressive behavior during hazing. In the meantime, Maastricht University has rescinded the sanctions against student association Tragos, which were imposed in September 2022 after misconduct during hazing. A 'change plan', based on an external study, proved convincing enough to restore confidence. Executive Board President Rianne Letschert called the misconduct “shocking” and “completely inconsistent with the values ​​of our university” at the time.

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Tragos Maastricht
There is “sufficient confidence” that the culture within the association is changing.

Also the Utrecht Student Corps came into negative news earlier this year when it emerged that lists of personal data of female students were being shared, accompanied by offensive comments about their appearance and supposed sexual performance. In addition, the Groningen Vindicat suspended some members last year due to the mistreatment of two geese, which shed even more light on the problematic culture within some associations.

"We are aware of a housing culture in which peer pressure, especially on first-year students, sometimes causes transgressive matters that do not belong to the norms and values ​​of USC."

According to USC, we are working hard to tackle these problems at the source. Together with experts, they design a program that can be repeated year after year and in which misogyny and excessive peer pressure are central, so that respectful manners are anchored in the DNA of the houses and association. “In this program we talk to each other and each house is given an active role. The process will be monitored by an external supervisory committee with experienced women and men, the majority of whom have not been members of the USC, in order to provide an unbiased external view of the plans and implementation," USC said in a statement about the change process.

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The code of conduct, as proposed by the LKVV, contains various measures to prevent such incidents in the future. Every association must have a reporting point and confidential counselor for sexual misconduct and aggression. In addition, a zero-tolerance policy for hard drugs is being introduced, and protocols have been drawn up to discourage drug use in general.

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Despite these positive steps, other concerns remain within the university community. The Greater Dutch Student Association (GNSV) has recently come under fire due to its ties with far-right organizations. Research by Omroep Gelderland showed that the GNSV maintains close contacts with various far-right groups. These revelations came to light after members of the GNSV clashed last summer with demonstrators from Action Group Nijmegen, who were protesting against the presence of the GNSV at the introductory market of Radboud University. This incident led to further investigation by Omroep Gelderland, which revealed that the chairman of the Nijmegen branch of the GNSV, Daan Meershoek, was recently a guest at the Parisian student association 'Cocarde Étudiante', an organization with extreme right-wing ideology and ties with a now banned neo-Nazi group.

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