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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Criticism and resignations after sexist speeches by a student union at a university in Amsterdam


The sexist speeches during a party organized last Sunday by the largest university association in the Netherlands (ASC/AVSV, in its Dutch acronym) has triggered a wave of criticism at the national level. Three male students, board members, made misogynist comments like this: “To think that on Sunday 24th July she will go to the NDSM pier in her finest dress [un espacio cultural en Ámsterdam], then she is a …” . The response from the room, which was all boys, was: “Bitch.” Another of the glosses also said that women are “seed cubes” and one of the speakers even suggested “breaking their necks to penetrate them”. In view of the facts, the group leader has resigned, as has the trio responsible for these parliaments. For its part, the rectorate of the university is not extending the subsidy for this company for the time being, 270 students have written a rejection letter.

What happens in university associations, particularly the harassment that new members face each year, usually doesn’t go beyond that. There’s an unwritten rule of silence, but this time video of the celebration was leaked. In it you can see the boys, some of whom are very young, who sing the speeches of their classmates from the higher courses several times under the call “whores”. The celebration took place in separate rooms for boys and girls, although the rest of the year are usually joint activities. Some guests left the room at the sound of the speakers. Journalist and feminist Milou Deelen, who was not present, criticizes that those who make such comments “think they’re funny when they’re terrible,” the 26-year-old said on the phone.

Adds Deelen, “These guys tease each other because they end up enjoying having sex with as many girls as possible. Saying things like that gives them a dangerous sense of power.” She was there six years ago justify, a student association of the Dutch University of Groningen. At one point in her studies, Deelen was insulted with a slurring song sung by her own classmates and responded by denouncing her former group’s misogyny. To do this, he recorded a video in which he asserted his sexual freedom, demonstrating the double standard that was placed on him. It was the same freedom that the boys enjoyed around him, without anyone offending them.

The association has not responded to calls from El PAÍS, whose president Heleen Vos resigned this Thursday. As he said, “There are members who are opposed to change, and much remains to be done.” Shortly before leaving, he had asked for an end to “the campaign of intimidation and threats people are now being subjected to.” . Profiles of the three student board members with their pixelated faces and insulting messages are circulating on social networks. The 270 signatories, for their part, affirm in their letter that they are “tired of this sexism”. “This is no joke. We have no words to describe what it means to us to be so disrespectfully presented at our own dinner and celebration,” the note adds.

Milou Deelen’s personal campaign went viral six years ago, and she regrets things have stayed the same. She says it’s very hard to imagine these male students saying something like that “after the #MeToo phenomenon, when feminism is on the political agenda, and with a recent sexual harassment scandal in the Netherlands, in the musical competition La Voz [The Voice]“. The three students from Amsterdam who handed in their resignations were at the end of their university cycle and Deelen finds it “very dangerous that they could hold important and influential jobs in the future”. “As far as I know, they are no longer active on the board, although they are still members of the association. They wrote their speeches and I think they should be kicked out. If not, everything stays the same,” he assures.

The student who posted the images prefers to remain anonymous, and the video was published on Dumpert, a digital platform owned by Mediahuis, a private communications company with assets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg. The Dutch media then collected excerpts in their editions. Another video of a show signed by the same club has also been leaked, where two half-naked women smack some men in the face with their butts on stage. It was witnessed by hundreds of ASC/AVSV members.

Founded in 1851, the ASC/AVSV has 2,700 active members, and Femke Halsema, Mayor of the Dutch capital, has also spoken out, calling the tirades “incitement to violence against women”. He is currently examining the possibility of temporarily revoking the club’s license. In the past year, she no longer received the corresponding contribution transferred by the rectorate to carry out her work. Then there was the severity of the harassment that the new applicants had to endure: there were punches, kicks and slaps, and “a change of tone” was announced that never happened.

The University of Amsterdam, the Free University (VU) – also in the Dutch capital – and the Polytechnic (Hogeschool) have shown their disapproval of what is happening. The State Department, which is among the potential employers of these students, has asked the association to remove the institution’s logo “immediately from its website”. And the Heineken Brewery, one of the party’s sponsors, has distanced itself from the sexist speeches.


Source elpais.com

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