NovUM: “No board months for Tragos”

NovUM: “No board months for Tragos”

NovUM is very worried about social safety within Tragos

22-05-2024 · News

MAASTRICHT. Allocation of the board months is on the University Council’s agenda in June. If student association Tragos is deemed eligible, members of student party NovUM will not agree to this. They recently shared this intention on Instagram. They are very worried about social safety within Tragos and want more transparency about their improvement plan.

The Executive Board lifted the sanctions against Tragos last March. Eighteen months before that, the association received these sanctions due to misconduct during hazing. This included songs being sung “with racist, sexist and discriminating content”, UM-president Rianne Letschert said at the time. Tragos could say goodbye to its board months’ worth 30 thousand euro. Eventually, the Executive Board received a ‘cultural change plan’, based on an external investigation, which convinced them of Tragos’s good intentions.

But NovUM is not convinced. “We have not seen any information yet that justifies the conclusion that they deserve those board months,” says Andrew William Scrivener, student member in the University Council on behalf of NovUM. But hasn’t he, in one of the previous meetings of the council, seen a plan of action or investigation report of Tragos? Scrivener does not want to say anything about it, “confidential”. He emphasises that this is not NovUM being contrary, “we have a right, as participation body, to information and the right of consent when it comes to the allocation of the board months and we are taking on that role”.

Board months

Every year, the allocation of the board months committee (a group of representatives from student organisations) draws up a list of who gets how much compensation for study delays. The list may contain not just board members from fraternities and sororities, such as Tragos, but also organisations like theatre group Alles is Drama, Nour (Muslim student organisation), the InnBetween and sports associations. The committee’s advice goes to the director of Student Services Centre and then to the Executive Board. Tragos generally receives about a hundred board months.

The ten students in the University Council (five from NovUM, four from DOPE and one from Klimaat Actie Netwerk) can study the advice in June. NovUM is planning not to agree (obviously if Tragos is indeed on the list, which is fairly likely). Scrivener: “It wasn’t something minor that happened. The connection has been broken for a year-and-a-half. The Executive Board didn’t just do this without reason.”

Feminists of Maastricht

NovUM emphasises in a statement on Instagram that a ‘negative vote’ is needed to “maintain the integrity and safety of the university community”. They feel that all student organisations must adhere to “the highest standards of conduct and transparency”. In doing so, the student party supports an Instagram message by Feminists of Maastricht (FOM) from 30 April. The news that Tragos could again be eligible for board months did not go down very well with FOM. “Tragos had 40 years to foster a strong culture of hazing. What enlightened plan could they have set up within two years that is so foolproof to manage to undo all of this? What are the university’s standards for ‘cultural change’?” FOM is upset that university officials on the one hand say to them that no more money can be invested in survivors support and mental health, but on the other hand an “alarming” amount of money is spent on “fraternities”. FOM has still not reacted to a request by Observant to explain their post.

Contribution

Does NovUM share this aversion to fraternities and sororities? Personally (not speaking on behalf of the student party) Scrivener says he is not against them. “The idea is that they mainly party and drink, but I know that they do more than that, such as organising various social initiatives. These types of associations also play an important role for a certain group of students, which I understand. But it depends on what happens during such a party and drinking event. If that doesn’t pass muster, a university shouldn’t spend money on it.” Besides, he reckons, they don’t need that money to survive. “Members pay contribution.”

Regulations

According to the University Council’s regulations, if there are an equal number of votes for and against, a new vote will take place at the next meeting. This would be in September, with a different student representation, in which NovUM will have four instead of five seats. Should they not want to drag this forward to after the summer – because student associations obviously want to know where they stand at the beginning of the academic year – then another round of voting will be held in the same University Council meeting. If they cannot reach a decision, it will be up to the Executive Board. The latter can make adaptations or stick to the advice given.

Author: Wendy Degens

Illustration: Simone Golob

Tags: novum, fom, tragos, hazing, sanctions, board months, allocation, university council

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