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As is the case each year, VUB and ULB celebrate their foundation and their common values on the day of Saint-Verhaegen. The official morning programme of the celebration is maintained as planned. The student procession in the afternoon however will be replaced by a gigantic cantus followed by a banquet and party in Brussels Expo at the Heysel - although this is for the moment a possibility and not yet fully agreed upon.
Saint Verhaegen: a celebration of freedom.
On 20 November 1834, Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen founded ULB by opening the first academic year of the university. The event is celebrated each year on 20 November by the students of both ULB and VUB, together with the common values on which their university is based.
During the morning, flowers are traditionally laid down at the graves and monuments dedicated to the founders of the university and the alumni who have fallen in battle in defense of freedom. Those attending the ceremony then go to Brussels City Hall, where the strong bond between ULB, VUB and the city is emphasized in several speeches.
In the afternoon, as is custom, the students procession then takes posession of the Brussels streets. However, following the attacks in Paris and today’s heightened security measures, police have cast an exceptionally negative opinion against the parade.
Saint Verhaegen continues
All this means that the organising student unions of VUB and ULB have no choice but to suspend the parade in order to ensure the safety of all members of the university community and the Brussels citizens.
The students and the university authorities, however, refuse to succumb to fear and instead say no to the curtailment of our liberties or our traditions.
That is why there is a proposition to let the festivities continue in Palaces 3 and 4 at the Heysel. This proposition is endorsed by the City of Brussels and the police - but for the moment being it is still being investigated and not yet fully confirmed. There is still a possibility another route will be put forward.
If the festivities at the Heysel would go forward, they would probably start with a giant Cantus at which the student songs will resound even more loudly in the palaces. The cantus would be followed by a banquet of the alumnus union, after which the traditional student party would begin.
With the initiative - that is for the moment still a possibility - to celebrate Saint Verhaegen in this alternative way, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles want to assemble both communities around a festive moment of solidarity and thus show that they will not accept any restrictions as to their freedom. As a sign of solidarity, those present will also wear a black armband in memory of the victims who have fallen in Paris.