Racism, Antisemitism and Sexism in Rotterdam university WhatsApp groups sparks police case

Hogeschool Rotterdam in 2018
Hogeschool Rotterdam in 2018cakifotoDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Higher education students in Rotterdam were accused on Friday of sharing disturbing images and statements in chat groups, including material which was racist, anti-Semitic, and sexually offensive or harassing. The Hogeschool Rotterdam (HR) said the chat messages were shared in several education-related groups connected to the college and to the Erasmus University.

“We are very shocked by the cross-border nature of the messages,” said HR board chair Ron Bormans. “This behavior completely contravenes our norms and values ​​and is not tolerated by our applied sciences university.”

The college was planning on filing a case with the police over the controversial content. Bormans said the students involved have not yet been punished, but a suspension is a distinct possibility.

“I think it’s important for students at our university to feel free to talk to fellow students about such offensive behavior,” Bormans stated. When that does not address the problem, students should feel that they can escalate the matter to their education mentors, department management, counselors, or even to the college’s board.

“As a result of the cases that are known to us, we have had a tough conversation with the students in question and we are considering the measures we are going to take,” he stated.

Reported cases of discrimination rose in the Netherlands last year by 16 percent, crime statistics showed. There were 460 such cases filed with police in 2019.

Earlier this week, advocacy group CIDI said that there was a sharp rise in anti-Semitism cases in the Netherlands. Not including online content, cases of religious discrimination against Jewish people rose by 35 percent in 2019 compared to a year earlier.