Hazing, gimmicks and friendship

| Marianne de Beer

You may see them one morning when biking to campus: paper stars or other small banners attached to the lanterns along the bike lane, or even large banners bearing strange words and sentences like ‘STER’ or ‘De turquoisering is begonnen’. Where do these things come from and what do they mean?

Photo by: Jellien Tigelaar

Most of these do-it-yourself projects were put there by students who want to become a member of a so-called ‘dispuut’, a group of students within a student association. You may see some of them walk around campus in unflattering t-shirts or holding strange objects. Three of these students, who are in the process of becoming a member or just became one, tell us about what a dispuut is and why these weird gimmicks keep appearing on campus each year.

Kind of sorority

Claudia Hovius (20), a third-year Chemical Engineering student, is currently in the process of becoming a member of STER, an independent ladies dispuut that consists of female students from a range of studies and associations. ‘A dispuut is a kind of sorority, but unlike the well-known American sororities, we don’t live together in the same house.’

‘Before becoming a member, it is important that we get to know each other and the current members. That is why there is a period of a sort of hazing, called ‘ontgroening’ in Dutch. This means that we have to do assignments over the course of an undetermined period of time. Two weeks ago, we handed out yoghurts to students at Carré to provide them with a good start of the day. Having to partake in a hazing isn’t always that much fun, it can take up a lot of time, but the assignments are definitely useful in getting to know your fellow freshmen and the other members. And you get to know yourself a lot better. It really makes you realise that a dispuut is something for life, a very close group of girls who you can share everything with and have a lot of fun with.’

Different backgrounds

Kim de Greef (20) is a second-year student of Technical Medicine and is in the process of her hazing for Xoun, an independent mixed dispuut. ‘There are a lot of different people in the dispuut, from different backgrounds with all kinds of studies, which makes the atmosphere very unique and diverse. They organise a lot of fun activities, also with members who no longer live in Enschede. There is a sailing weekend, a weekend in the Ardennen in Belgium and a weekly drink on Wednesday in café Friends.’

'I’m not allowed to tell everything that goes on during the hazing, but we have a combination of weekly assignments that are more standard, such as bringing other members breakfast and learning the names of all the current members. There are also some assignments that take a bit longer, such as organising dinners, making our own outfits and organising a man’s and women’s evening.’

De Greef does not think the hazing is that hard: ‘I am quite busy, but that is mainly because of my study and Ludica. The hazing takes some time of course, but it is not as hard-core as some of the hazings of other disputen such as Thoridor (a Taste men’s dispuut). The hazing is a necessary part of becoming a member; you want to get to know everyone really well and that really happens during the hazing period. We started about 7 weeks ago, and we’re not certain when we will be done. I look back at the hazing in quite a positive way, I enjoyed most of it and I know what I signed up for when I decided to become a member of Xoun.’

New traditions

Finally, IBA student Max Jonathans (20) finished his hazing a few weeks ago and is a fresh new member of independent men’s dispuut bURB. ‘bURB is different from other more traditional disputen, and classifies as more ’neo-classical’, which means that most of the traditions we have are quite new and can still originate right now.’

‘I was asked to join the drinks of bURB by a fellow board member of Integrand, joined a few of them and thought they were a really nice group of guys. So I thought “Why not?” and decided to join. Most of what happened during the hazing will have to stay secret, but it took about 10 weeks. Me and the other two first-years’ had to walk around in dirty old white shirts with all kinds of drawings on them. We got to know each other and the rest of bURB a lot better, so I actually quite enjoyed most of the hazing and thought it was quite a good way to get to know the dispuut.’ Jonathans does tell us that he was quite busy during the past few months: ‘But that was not necessarily because of the hazing, I am chairman at Integrand and am doing quite a challenging minor in biomedical engineering, so I had a lot on my plate.’