DWH: ‘Our flag will continue to fly with pride’

DWH, the Delft LGBT+ student association was flooded with messages of support after their rainbow flag was set on fire on 7 May. The suspect reported to the police.

(Photos: DWH)

Dries Stuij, DWH’s Treasurer, was sent a photo on Sunday morning 7 May which shocked him. The rainbow flag on DWH’s building on Lange Geer in Delft was partly destroyed by fire. His WhatsApp went crazy when he forwarded the photo to the DWH group. “It provoked immediate angry and sad reactions. Someone set the symbol of our pride on fire. It felt like an attack on our second home, which should be a safe and good place.” There followed an item on Omroep West, the local news channel, and a flood of messages of support, including from other student associations in Delft. A lot of students visit DWH’s building and many are also members of Outsite, the youth association allied to DWH. (read further under photo)

Stuij says that the responses show a wide range of emotions: anger, sadness, as well as scorn, apathy, and calm. He immediately hung up a new flag and hopes to continue celebrating the 11th lustrum. “We have been around for 55 years. There was always something to contend with. Our flag has been stolen several times. I don’t know why, perhaps as a trophy or a memento. The windows have been smashed several times too.” The DWH Treasurer has the feeling that the number of incidents are increasing. “Our windows have been spat at, fireworks were once thrown at people standing outside, people lay in wait outside and accosted and threatened our visitors. Four weeks ago a scooter crashed into someone.”

‘We want to show our support’

DWH does not always report incidents to the police, but it did do so this time. Stuij hoped that images from a camera across the street would help.

On 9 May, a person who says he set fire to the flag at DWH has reported to the police and expressed regret. The police say they will aim for mediation between the two parties. Stuij reports that the appointment has now been made. It will take place on Wednesday evening 10 May. According to Stuij, it is “a good first step by the suspected perpetrator” that he has come forward with regrets. “The people of DWH responded happily,” he said. DWH will await the outcome of the conversation to determine any next steps.

Before the suspected perpetrator came forward, Stuij said DHW was planning to make an appointment with Roze in Blauw (pink in blue), the police force’s LGBTI+ network, to hear if they can do anything to prevent incidents.

DWH is discussing the incident internally as some members are feeling anxious, says Stuij. There are Confidential Advisors for anyone needing support. The Treasurer himself wants to emphasise that DWH is a ‘fabulous and proud’ association where positive feelings rule. “We are still flying our flag proudly in Delft and will continue to do so.”

In response to the incident on Sunday, a TU Delft spokesperson stated that TU Delft “disapproves of it in the strongest terms”. “This is not acceptable. We want to show our support and see what we can do for DWH.”

Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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