Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act, the Groningen news site Sikkom has requested access to correspondence between the municipality and Vindicat. These sources reveal much, including that on May 10th of last year a violent incident occurred during ‘Buitenspelen’, an annual party held by Vindicat.
Mayor Peter den Oudsten believed it was very regrettable that the board was not prepared to pass to the police the name of an association member under suspicion. “Due in part to this, it is impossible to carry out any further investigation into this serious violent incident within your association,” he writes in the July warning.
In addition, he mentions the assault of a student on Vindicat association premises, in December 2017. The board had not reported this to the university and likewise the mayor knew nothing of it at the time.
The mayor’s patience ran out. “If in the coming twelve months any more incidents occur in or near your hospitality company, or during any outdoor events organized by your association, I shall consider taking the step of closing your business temporarily, imposing temporary closing times and/or withdrawing your operating license.”
According to Sikkom, Vindicat expressed regret, but the association’s board also wrote to the municipality saying it wished to respect the privacy of its members and that the incident in May occurred outside the walls of the association premises. “We do not understand the connection between the operating license and our not providing information.”
For the rest, the board did not consider the incident on association premises in December 2017 to be serious: “Fortunately no weapons were involved. As such there is no question of a knife or shooting incident.” But not even this could encourage the mayor to take a more lenient line. The administrative warning was imposed for a year.
The municipality informs Sikkom that it is highly unusual for a warning of this kind to be issued to a student association. “It's a regular occurrence where pubs and bars are concerned, but happens rarely or never to student associations.”
Vindicat has regularly had negative press coverage in recent years due to the misconduct of its members. The association's board grants were withdrawn when the assault in December, which was not reported, came to light.
The corps promised to do better, but the University of Groningen and Hanze UAS Groningen saw little evidence of this. In October they endorsed the negative advice issued by the Groningen Accreditation Committee for the assessment of student organizations. Next academic year the association will be given another chance.