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No accreditation for Vindicat student association

10 December 2020

The University of Groningen (UG) and Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS) have endorsed the advice of the Accreditation Committee for the assessment of student organizations, and are withdrawing the student association Vindicat atque Polit accreditation for the current academic year 2020-2021. The main reason for this is that the measures taken by the student association in the past years have still not sufficiently led to the required changes to the culture within the association. The Accreditation Committee also remarked that the Senate has not been able to steer the association sufficiently to prevent incidents during the coronavirus pandemic. The boards of the two institutions have decided to not invite Vindicat to official occasions until 15 September 2021.

Still no culture change

Despite the measures taken over the past years, the Accreditation Committee for student organizations has still not noticed any broadly supported changes of culture that have been sufficiently established or maintained. The progress regarding cultural changes, which was discussed in the previous accreditation report, is also insufficiently visible in the eyes of the Committee. Important points:

  • The sense of urgency for tackling excessive alcohol consumption within the association still seems to be lacking; internal surveys have shown that alcohol still plays a large role within the association.
  • A proactive policy regarding the desired cultural changes is missing; actions taken in response to incidents are reactive and taken in retrospect, instead of being preventative. Internal surveys indicate that Vindicat members have not sufficiently detected any cultural changes.
  • Despite the Senate consequently informing the boards of the institutions and the police of any incidents, they failed to do this in the case of a recent incident just before Kermesse: an event that was still held despite the coronavirus restrictions. The Accreditation Committee and the boards of the institutions only found out that this incident had taken place via the media.

The Accreditation Committee realizes that the coronavirus pandemic also makes it hard to manage the association. The Accreditation Committee also sees that steps have been taken by the Senate in terms of reporting incidents. From the report drafted by Vindicat, it appears that the former and current Senate have taken measures to set the process of cultural change on course. In particular, the Committee points to the themed evenings focused on diversity, cultural change and the availability of alcohol-free beer and the offering of water during parties.

Decision of the boards

Hanze UAS and the UG endorse the conclusions of the Accreditation Committee, and have made the following decisions:

  • Vindicat will not be accredited for the remainder of the academic year 2020-2021
  • Vindicat will not be invited to official occasions until 15 September 2021, including the opening of the academic year 2021-2022 of both institutions
  • Ties with Vindicat will not be cut altogether

The boards of the institutions would like to see Vindicat pursue the indicated route to cultural change with a sufficient sense of urgency, so that the association can be recommended for reaccreditation in the academic year 2021-2022.

The committee grants issued by the Graduation Fund for the academic year 2020-2021 were already issued before the accreditation process and will therefore not be retracted.

Message from the boards

Annemarie Hannink, member of the Executive Board of Hanze UAS:

‘The coronavirus pandemic is difficult for everyone, including students and student associations. But that is exactly why a healthy and safe student community is of great importance in Groningen. Despite the efforts and experiences of the past few years, the willingness within Vindicat to change is unfortunately still not sufficiently broadly supported.’

Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga of the UG: ‘In such times, it is even more important to uphold the rules and to give a good impression. We should be able to expect such behaviour from the oldest student association in the Netherlands. I hope that the Senate and members of the association will feel a sense of urgency, also considering the reports and ensuing actions for improvement. The ball now lies in Vindicat’s court: if they manage to make sufficient cultural changes, they will be eligible for reaccreditation as from 1 October 2021.’

Background: the Accreditation Committee and Vindicat

In Autumn 2016, certain incidents highlighted a need for cultural changes in a number of student associations in Groningen. A system of accreditation for student associations was then set up and six student associations were assessed. In July 2017, the Accreditation Committee for the assessment of student organizations published its first report on Vindicat. At that time, the UG and Hanze UAS decided to give Vindicat accreditation for one year until August 2018, under certain conditions. In September 2017, the issuing of the committee grants was postponed by the boards of both institutions due to an incident that took place during the introduction period of the academic year 2017-2018. In May 2018, in response to an incidence of violence that was not reported at first, it was decided to definitively retract the committee grants for that year.

In October 2018, the Accreditation Committee issued advice to the boards of both institutions to not give Vindicat accreditation for the academic year 2018-2019. This advice was adopted without adjustments by both institutions. In October 2019, based on the advice of the Accreditation Committee, the boards of both institutions remarked that Vindicat had shown positive developments in various aspects. It was decided to give Vindicat accreditation, under certain conditions, for the period of one year.

Last modified:10 December 2020 5.22 p.m.
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