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Some of you may recall the sudden death of a KULouvain student in December 2018. His baptism went terribly wrong. After a few minor accidents this was enough reason for many journalists to criticize this habit heavily. Of course accidents are deplorable, but most of the student societies do pay lots of attention to safety.
Most student cities therefore dispose of what they call a ‘baptism charter’. Here, at the VUB, the Faculties Convent took care of that in the past. As of 2016 their rules are part of the Codex Student Life. So now we witnessed the birth of some kind of constitution that carries the most elementary safety measures and values.
It was the Minister of Education who took the initiative for it. The text was written with contributions from most higher education institutions in Flanders and their students. You can read it on the website of the ministry (only in Dutch), where it is introduced by the following sentence: “Activities of student societies, amongst which the baptisms, have to be pleasant and have to be carried out in a grown-up responsible way.”
On this occasion, Herman Van Goethem, rector of the Antwerp University pronounced some more in-depth words. He depicts the baptism in an anthropological background. All over the world we see ceremonies and festivities when one passes from an earlier to a new phase in his or her life. The student baptism should also be seen as a ceremony for the coming of age of new adults. He concluded that he was glad that after a mourning period we could all come together again and start planning the next festivities.