KU Leuven: Leuven student circles no longer organize shaft sales

Godfather or godmother cannot be allocated by auction, nor by payment of, say, drink receipts, nor in ways that can lead to discrimination on the basis of gender, appearance or skin colour. That is literally what it says in the latest version of the Leuven baptism charter that circles, university, colleges, city and police have signed.

The signatories also agreed that they will meet regularly this academic year to work together towards a more sustainable vision of positive baptism and welcome activities.

Brent Monette, LOKO chairman: “The talks have now started. We opt for constructive cooperation and therefore give all participants in the consultation sufficient space to provide feedback to their own supporters. We prioritize behavior, durability and solidity over speed. At the same time, we see that some circles are changing the approach to their baptism and welcome activities already this academic year.”

Luc Sels, Rector of KU Leuven: “Many now believe that baptism and welcoming new students should be a positive story, which students look back on with warm feelings for a lifetime. Without humiliation, without barriers to belonging. Eliminating shaft sales was a first necessary step. In the coming period, we will convert this broad awareness into a supported and sustainable vision on baptisms and welcome activities through consultation. I am particularly pleased that all partners are committed to this.”

Mohamed Ridouani, Mayor of the City of Leuven: “A positive welcome activity is very valuable for young people who are entering a new phase of their lives as students. I am very pleased that all parties involved now want to give a new and inclusive interpretation to that welcome.”

Baptism charter 2021-2022
Like every academic year, the new presidia of student circles are presented with the Leuven baptismal charter for signature. All circles have meanwhile signed the baptism charter.

In addition to the circles, the student clubs are also involved in the consultation. The clubs are independent associations, spread all over Flanders, which often have students from different universities and colleges among their members. Unlike the student circles, they have no affiliation with the faculties, the university or the colleges. The girls’ clubs, grouped in the GirlsSeniorenKonvent, have signed the baptism charter. The first boys’ clubs have also signed it. The partners of the baptism charter are hopeful that the other boys’ clubs will do the same in the coming days.

It is not possible to use the partners’ buildings for baptism and welcome activities without signing the charter. The disciplinary regulations of the higher education institutions apply to individual students who organize activities that do not comply with the baptism charter or who participate in such activities. Individual participation in activities that are contrary to the disciplinary regulations can therefore lead to disciplinary proceedings and a disciplinary sanction.

Clear agreements are made in the baptism charter about the baptism and welcome activities. New this year is the cancellation of shaft sales and stricter formulations about degrading activities.

Gil Vanommeslaeghe, student inspector of the Leuven Police Department: “In addition to volunteering and respect, safety is very important in baptisms. That is why all baptismal activities must be reported in advance and the script is proactively tested against the Leuven baptism charter together with the various partners, in dialogue with the students themselves. Of course, close attention is also paid to ensuring that the agreements made are always complied with.”

Klaas Vansteenhuyse, head of the Education & Students Department, UCLL University of Applied Sciences: “Last year, our students took the initiative to debate baptisms. The fact that their experiences with reflection and consultation are now also shared more widely with all Leuven partners is a valuable next step. Student baptisms are part of a long tradition. Entering into a debate about this requires a certain openness and maturity. As a university of applied sciences, we are therefore proud that UCLL students took the initiative at the time.”

Simon Van Damme, general director of LUCA School of Arts: “LUCA’s music and drama courses are located in Leuven. Our students are part of Leuven’s student life. As a School of Arts, we attach the utmost importance to working together and living with respect for everyone’s personal integrity. That is why it is important for us to sign the baptism charter as a partner.”

The baptism charter may be explained, refined and signed every year, but the academic year 2021-2022 is the first year that the city of Leuven also co-signs. This is rather symbolic, but not without importance. The City of Leuven is strongly committed to coexistence between permanent residents and students and puts the well-being of everyone in this city of Leuven, including students, first in the policy. This baptismal charter contributes to that.

Thomas Van Oppens, Alderman for Student Affairs City of Leuven: “The students are part of our Leuven community. By signing the baptismal charter together, we are mutually committed to caring for each other. At the same time, the charter clearly states where the playful ends and where the line is drawn.”

Hilde Feys, Vice Rector Student Policy KU Leuven: “We take care of our students together with our partners. This baptismal charter also departs from that concern. It reaffirms and reaffirms our shared commitment to safe welcoming activities.”