Student charged with assault over Vindicat initiation ritual

Groningen University’s main admin building. Photo:

A 24-year-old member of an undergraduate society is facing criminal proceedings over an incident at an initiation ceremony that left a fellow student with a serious head injury.

The public prosecution service launched an investigation in October after an applicant to Groningen’s Vindicat fraternity allegedly had his head stamped on. On Monday it announced that the suspect had been charged with serious assault.

No date has yet been set for a court hearing.

The incident prompted calls for initiation rituals at Dutch university societies to be better monitored or banned. Three Amsterdam students ended up in hospital last September after swimming in canals or sleeping rough among the bins in order to join a society.

The alleged victim of the incident in Groningen initially declined to report the matter to the police because the society wanted to deal with it through its own disciplinary procedures. But following an intervention by the city’s mayor Peter den Oudsten complaints were filed and a criminal investigation was launched.

Vindicat has since deleted a clause in its constitution that forbids members from speaking out about the initiation rituals under threat of a €25,000 fine.

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