On Friday 19 November, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université libre de Bruxelles honour their founder, Théodore Verhaegen, as they do every year. In doing so, the VUB-ULB university community expresses its loyalty to the spirit of the founders and its gratitude to all who have served it, even under difficult circumstances. It is also the moment when our students celebrate their university and their folkloric rituals, with a critical look at a particular theme.
*Update to this event: St-V celebrations postponed due to current Covid-19 situation
This year, due to the pandemic, it will take place in a safe manner at a party village in the centre of the city.
The official commemorations will take place from 8.00 to 13.45. As always, students will honour those who have contributed to building the two universities’ identities.
From 12.00 to 16.45, the students will gather at the party village on the Grote Zavel, consisting of stalls for the various student circles decorated in a traditional way, with satirical frescos of the students.
VUB rector Caroline Pauwels says this St-V is very special – “It’s not just that our students can finally go back into the city and celebrate with each other and with the city. Getting to know each other, getting to know the city they are studying in, is so important. And the themes the students have chosen this year could not be more topical. Our students show that they are true possibilists, hopeful without being naive and with a strong willingness to make an effort for this world. That makes me particularly proud. Vive St-V!”
Mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close also shared his enthusiasm: “Brussels is particularly moved this year that students can celebrate the traditional St-V together on 19 November. With the graduation ceremony on the Grote Markt last month, the ties between Brussels and its two universities have never been stronger. I wish everyone a happy St-V day.”
For Annemie Schaus, rector of ULB, this year’s St-V Day takes on a very special touch: “On the one hand, it offers students the opportunity to come together and fraternise, whereas last year the pandemic prevented this; on the other hand, it brings the university community together around strong commitments that reflect the image of what ULB is: free, critical, vigilant and rebellious!”
Climate and refugees
This year, the student organisations Association des Cercles Étudiants (ACE) and the Brussels Studentengenootschap (BSG) have chosen the theme “Free to destroy but not to welcome. Emissions allowed, limits set”. The students’ aim is to draw attention to the problems of global warming and refugees.
They point out: “We are in a critical situation with regard to our environment. In a few years’ time, a significant part of the world’s population will no longer be able to survive in their native areas. And yet we humans live in total contempt for this earth. And yet we refuse to take in refugees, regardless of the cause of their flight.”
Sint-Verhaegen included in Brussels cultural heritage since 2019
Since 2019, Saint Verhaegen has been part of the Brussels-Capital Region’s inventory of intangible cultural heritage. It received this recognition for its contribution to the “multifaceted, independent and rebellious character of the city, as well as to its identity”. This recognition also shows that the event is much more than a parade in which more than 7,000 people take part every year. It is above all a celebration of freedom. Through speeches and banners, the participants call for freedom of research, education, thought and expression.
More information about the festival programme
About Verhaegen, the origins of St-V and folklore
Photo & info via VUB website.