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Brussels' student celebration Saint-V postponed due to pandemic

05:04 16/11/2021

Every year, the Free University of Brussels (ULB in French, VUB in Dutch) celebrates its founder Theodore Verhaegen on Saint-V day (19 November) with typical student revelry that involves a lot of beer.

Unfortunately, this year's event - which was due to take place this Friday - has been postponed due to the pandemic. Last year's had to be held online for the same reason. The 2021 edition will instead take place sometime in the second semester of the academic year, after the New Year, as soon as the coronavirus situation allows.

But what is Saint-V? As well as being a big party, there is also a serious side to the event and this time, the celebration focuses on climate emergency and displaced people.

The Association des Cercles Etudiants (ACE) and the Brussels Studentengenootschap (BSG) have chosen as the theme of the Saint-Verhaegen “Free to Destroy but not to Welcome”.

"We find ourselves in a critical situation vis-à-vis our environment,” the student associations said. “In a few years, a significant part of the world's population will no longer be able to survive in their native lands.

“And yet we westerners live in absolute disrespect of this environment which welcomes us. Despite this, we refuse to welcome refugees, whatever the cause of their flight.

The rector of the ULB, Annemie Schaus, said: "The Saint-Verhaegen takes on a very special flavour this year. First, students will be able to come together, which the pandemic did not allow last year, and second, it unites the university community around strong commitments, which are in the image of what the university is: free, critical, vigilant and rebellious.”

The rector of the VUB, Caroline Pauwels, added her approval of this year’s theme: "Our students show that they are real possibilists, full of hope without being naive and with a strong will to make an effort for this world. I am particularly proud of it. Long live Saint-V.”

Photo: Hatim Kaghat/Belga

Written by Richard Harris