KU Leuven: Leuven student organizations support new Charter for Baptism and Welcome Rituals

Responsibility, respect, safety and connection: these are the four basic principles of the new widely supported vision on student baptisms and other welcome rituals that the Leuven student organizations, the Leuven higher education institutions (KU Leuven, UCLL and LUCA), LOKO, the city of Leuven and the police, developed together during the academic year.

The partners met regularly in recent months to work on a new, widely supported framework for baptism and welcome rituals in Leuven. The student organizations played a crucial role in this participatory process. They themselves asked for a clear framework, with fewer gray zones and more transparency.

Brent Monette, LOKO President: “Any kind of welcome should be responsible, safe and voluntary. These are the core values ​​that our circles have been working with for years. The updated Charter for Baptism and Welcome Rituals makes this concrete and provides clear tools to get started.”

Through reflection and inspiration sessions under the guidance of the Expertise Center Inclusive Society of UC Leuven-Limburg University of Applied Sciences, personal experiences and best practices regarding connection and welcome were discussed. All partners agreed that the changing social reality and the will to build an inclusive and connected student community requires a new vision on baptism and welcome rituals. The result of that vision is the new Charter .

Luc Sels, Rector KU Leuven: “I would like to congratulate all partners on the result of this process. There is now a clear framework to make welcoming new students, in whatever form, a positive story. Without humiliation. With respect for each other and the wider Leuven community.”

The trajectory is also a support and appreciation for the hundreds of students who are committed to welcoming new students every year in their association, circle or club. Volunteers who take this up with great enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility.

Klaas Vansteenhuyse, Department of Education and Students at UCLL: “The circles and clubs have shown commitment by joining this process. Baptism and welcome rituals have a long tradition in Leuven. At UCLL, the debate about this started last year. We are pleased that we have been able to share our experiences and contribute to this widely supported agreement.”

Simon Van Damme, General Director of LUCA School of Arts: “Responsibility, respect and safety are also core values ​​for LUCA School of Arts. Our music and drama students in Leuven participate in the active student life in the city. We are signing this Charter with full conviction, also because it focuses on inclusiveness.”

The new Charter for Baptism and Welcome Rituals focuses on responsibility . This means that clear roles are agreed to ensure that the activities run smoothly: a chief responsible person, a first aid person and a control person must be present during each activity.

The importance of respect was already emphasized during the past academic year with the end of the so-called shaft sale . The new Charter continues in this direction and puts the rights of each participant first. Personal boundaries must be respected.

A separate chapter on safety clearly describes what is and is not possible. There is also a closer look at what is and is not allowed when consuming alcohol or using other products or attributes during a welcome activity.

Gil Vanommeslaeghe, student inspector PZ Leuven: “All activities must be reported in advance via the activity calendar; a scenario must be attached to this in which all responsible persons, assignments, locations and products used are described. The scenario committee checks this in dialogue with the student organization against the new Charter and ensures that the agreements made are also complied with.”

In addition to the circles, student clubs are also involved in the process. The clubs are independent associations, spread all over Flanders, which often have students from different universities and colleges among their members. The seniors of the Seniorenkonvent and the Girlsenseniorenkonvent also support this renewed Charter.

All partners (the new board of all circles and clubs, the higher education institutions, the city and the police) are invited every year to sign the Charter for Baptism and Welcome Rituals and to refine or sharpen it if necessary.

Thomas Van Oppens, Alderman for Student Affairs, City of Leuven: “A warm, welcoming, inclusive community, that is what Leuven also wants to be for the students. We are pleased that this Charter also establishes these values ​​for the welcome rituals and thus contributes to a good relationship between the city and its students. We therefore endorse this new Charter with great conviction.”

But signing this document every year is not an end point. The Charter for Baptism and Welcome Rituals is exactly the starting point for a lasting collaboration.

Hilde Feys, Vice Rector for Student Policy KU Leuven: “We will sit down at the table at least twice a year to listen to and evaluate each other as partners. We want to permanently anchor the good cooperation that existed during this process.”