Halsema’s ultimatum to student society: clean up you act or else

Students clustered together while studying outdoors.
Photo: Depositphotos

Amsterdam student society ASC/AVSV has to clean up its act or be closed down, mayor Femke Halsema has said in a speech to students earlier this week, the Parool reported on Friday.

“What has been happening in previous years is criminal behaviour punishable by law,” Halsema said, referring to the society’s history of violent initiation ceremonies which have left students with broken bones and mental trauma. “The law is the same for everyone,” she said.

Last year, the association hit the headlines when members made sexist remarks at an anniversary dinner, calling women “whores” and “sperm buckets”.

Halsema said the society had done too little to tackle the abuse despite repeated promises. Its activities would be “closely scrutinised” and she would not hesitate to shut it down for a period if it is found to engage in illegal practices again, she said.

The mayor also called for the complete results of a recent investigaton into the society, carried out by law firm Roos & Pen, to be published.

The investigation found the society’s culture to be one of violence and abuse, for which it has since apologised. The society won’t, however, publish the all the findings.

Halsema, in an earlier email to the society, slated the “omerta” which she said has characterised student societies for decades. “It’s a culture that leaves victims unprotected and vulnerable while the perpetrators of the violence know that knowledge about their behaviour will not go further.”

The victims, Halsema said, are deprived of public recognition of what has been done to them, and this is further complicated by the fact that they are reluctant to report the abuse to police.

The scandal surrounding the society seems to do little to deter potential members. Students were lining up for a place last year, the paper said. This year’s recruitment starts on June 18.

The society did not want to comment on Halsema’s ultimatum.

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