Sitting on a stool for the whole night, with a shower cap full of pea soup on your head

Sitting on a stool for the whole night, with a shower cap full of pea soup on your head

Publication about hazing at Maastricht sorority Schanulleke

18-05-2023 · Interview

It doesn’t happen very often that former sorority members reveal information about their hazing experience. Nevertheless, journalist Stéphanie Hoogenberk writes about her Aspiring member period at Maastricht sorority Schanulleke. The report is in her recently published bundle of stories about friendships, We hebben het over je gehad (“We talked about you”).

Independent sorority Schanulleke was warmly recommended by two men who already studied in Maastricht and who were members of a ‘fraternity’. Hoogenberk (37), who now works as a journalist and lives in Amsterdam, was at the time a second-year student at the Fontys Hogeschool in Sittard and was doing the Dutch teacher training course.

She contacted Schanulleke at a somewhat unusual time, in February, and appears to be the only newcomer. Which means that she has to go through the time as an aspiring member all by herself and doesn’t have the support of companions in the same misfortune. She has to endure the most absurd assignments. Based on this, the members will determine whether Hoogenberk is worth being admitted.

Blue face

Right from the start, it is made clear to her that she should address everyone with ‘Mrs’ together with the surname. “No first names anymore.” After that, there is a ceremony in which she has to kneel and is crowned aspiring-dwarf. At the weekly sorority evening, the rules for her are: doing the shopping, cooking for ten, clearing off and washing the dishes. Once they are in the pub, she can only go home when the last member has left. And no looking tired or miserable, she is told, but shine.

One of the assignments is to write a poem about every member of the sorority. If she forgets to do this or lies about it, she will have to wear a long, plastic carnivals nose. Later on, this is tied to her waste. “Right”, says one of the members. “Now you have a penis!” There were two kinds of members, she writes: “Members who could haze with humour, which made an impression, and members who were not funny and therefore shouted.”

The assignments became more and more weird. From sorting fruit bread sprinkles by colour, to buying a Bossche bol (cake) in Den Bosch, travelling in the train by herself while her face is painted blue. She has to hand over the train ticket later on as proof. Not long after that, she wondered: “How far would I go in allowing them to humiliate me?”

Worse

One day she made pea soup, the members eat it but set aside a portion for her. But Hoogenberk isn’t hungry. “Stéphanie, you can eat it or put it all on your head and pull a shower cap over it. What do you want?”

She chooses the latter. That same night, she is not allowed to sleep but has to sit in the corridor. She has to wake two members every hour for an assignment. For example, write down two hundred things that she is grateful for. Or to make drawings of all ten members.

“I tried to think of people who were worse off, but I couldn’t think of anyone.”

Why did you want to join a sorority?

“The friends that I made during the first year of my study, were older and left after they had graduated. I signed up with Schanulleke to make a new group of friends in a short space of time.”

You refer to the sorority as ‘Snow white’. Did you do that to avoid a fuss afterwards with the sorority?

“O no, not at all. I thought it was too crude to use real names, and as far as I was concerned it didn’t need to be retraceable. Honestly, I didn’t think that the link with Schanulleke would be made so quickly. Whether I informed the sorority about my book? No, I didn’t announce the publication. The story is not something to get angry about, is it? It is rather contemplative and written with irony.”

Maybe the sorority will feel that you are giving away secrets.

“The former members laughed so hard about it, their own memories came back to them. Often members are quite secretive about hazing, but in my case, it was fifteen years ago.”

Are the descriptions of your time as an aspiring member at Schanulleke truthful?

“The events really took place, but I describe them from my own experience, with the feeling that I had at that time.”

What did you feel was the worst?

“I don’t know if I can single out one moment. It was tough that I was the only aspiring member. Walking along the street with a face painted blue on your own is different than if you do that with three people. Then you feel miserable together.”

Did you find it humiliating?

“I think that is the least interesting aspect. I mean, hazing is humiliating. You know that.”

Knowing it is one thing, but going through it is at times, something else.

“I would at any rate do it again, if I ended up in a city as a student where I knew nobody. Hazing is awful, but you get a lot in return, you get to know so many people.”

While some assignments are way out there. You ask yourself in your book how badly you will allow yourself to be humiliated.

“One person will feel it is going too far, the other won’t. It depends on your frame of reference. A member of the Amsterdam student union, notorious for its hazing, referred to my time as an aspiring member as a walk in the park.”

Reaction Schanulleke

The Schanulleke sorority was asked for a reaction, but the chairperson, who does not want to have her name in Observant, replied by e-mail that she won’t respond to the article. Although she does want to say that Hoogenberk’s story took place fifteen years ago and so is no longer current. “We adhere to the university’s code of conduct during the aspiring member period.

We hebben het over je gehad (We talked about you), Stéphanie Hoogenberk. Prometheus publisher. Price: 20 euro