Forest ranger drives out ‘scary’ Albertus members

An Albertus student association’s initiation ritual went differently than expected on Friday night. A forest ranger told the Albertus members to leave the forest next to the Frisian village of Wijnjewoude. ‘I was a bit worried that it was a scary cult.’

The fraternity had organised an initiation weekend, which began Friday, in ‘t Oude Bosch at Wijnjewoude, close to Bakkeveen. They had made an enormous campfire and were making ‘sinister’ noises. As a result, the surrounding neighbours – especially those living in houses at the edge of the forest – did not dare to leave their homes on Friday night.

Beer bottles and embers

For forest ranger Roel Vriesema from the State Forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer), the antics were not completely unexpected. ‘During the last weekend of February, groups of men have been present in the forest at night in the past few years. The next day, hikers found beer bottles littering the forest and traces of a fire.’

Given that the forest is not meant to be used in such a way, Vriesema decided it was time to intervene. ‘I tipped off the police and I was on alert. That evening, it turned out that another group of men went into the forest, and I approached them with a colleague.’

‘Quite a few crates of beer had to be taken away’
He did not know what he would find. ‘It could easily have been some sort of scary cult’, says Vriesema. ‘That is why I tipped the police off in advance. I planned to get the group to leave the forest, but I wanted to prevent the situation from escalating at all times.’

Full understanding

Once he made it to the group, he saw all they were covered in various sorts of fabric. ‘Men were walking with their backs bent, and it seemed as though one was leading the other. In any case, I did not understand a bit of it’, Vriesema laughs. ‘It was already clear to me that it concerned students. I demanded they leave the forest immediately, and luckily, they were very understanding.’

Even so, it still took about an hour before the group actually left the forest. ‘The students were all scattered throughout the forest. They informed each other via telephone. Quite a few crates of beer still had to be taken away, but I saw them actually leave’, says Vriesema.

No nuisance

Wieke Stolwijk, vice president of Albertus, says that she deeply regrets the events of Friday night. ‘This particular initiation is not organised by the association, but we have rules to which the groups must adhere for initiations, nevertheless. We are now looking into whether these rules have been violated.’ Either way, Stolwijk feels that members of Albertus should not create a nuisance.

In the meantime, Stolwijk says that she has contacted Vriesema. ‘We are also sending an email to all of our members to inform them that they have to notify the forest ranger if they want to organise these kinds of activities.’

Vriesema understands that a forest lends itself well to student parties. ‘I definitely think there is something to be said for these kinds of parties. However, students have to notify us in advance and stick to the rules of the State Forestry Commission just like everyone else.’