Contributing Writer & Illustrator
On the evening of last Wednesday 30th of October, Kring Eoos, a student union for Language and Area studies within the Arts Faculty of KU Leuven hosted what is perhaps one of the most unwise and shameful events organised by an association at KU Leuven which they titled: Politically Incorrect Evening (“Politiek Incorrecte Avond” in Dutch).
So what was this Politically Incorrect Evening all about? Undivided for KU Leuven, an initiative facilitated by KU Leuven’s Diversity Policy whose aim is to promote inclusivity within the university, has exposed the content of this event on facebook with photos taken at the event and screenshots from Kring Eoos' instagram page as they broadcasted the event to the world through their instagram story. These photos were mostly of posters containing hostile and sensitive messages which were used to decorate the walls of the fakbar Letteren. There were also boards on the walls to “invite” people to post their politically incorrect opinions. The opinions which they received from students at the event can be seen as blatantly racist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, transphobic, anti-semitic, islamophobic, and even pro-colonialism. Moreover, the event featured images seemingly celebrating controversial figures on a lottery wheel labelled “order the favourite cocktail of these great guys” - including war criminals and perpetrators of genocides - such as King Leopold II, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
It is therefore probably not surprising why this event has raised many red flags among several KU Leuven students. According to Kring Eoos’ apology post, they received complaints that their student association was too “politically correct”. So they intended to counter this accusation with a new “radical” event.
Nothing better to do this than holding a party and pretending to be a racist bigot right? But as students of a diverse university like KU Leuven, did they actually stop to consider the possible consequences of holding such an event? Can they even prove that those who attended the event were just pretending to be racist, and not simply seeing this as an opportunity to express their actual beliefs? Which part of this event encouraging the shameless sharing of so-called “controversial” opinions actually shows that this was “just a joke” and not genuine opinions that spiraled from hatred of diversity? These are certainly questions many students who feel targeted by the messages which Kring Eoos placed on the walls of the fakbar that evening might ask themselves and questions the organizers of the event should have maybe considered.
Reactions of the students have arrived in waves, as the exposure post by Undivided received more than 150 comments on Facebook alone. On the 4th of November 2019, Leonardo LGBT International, Undivided for KU Leuven, and KU Leuven Feminist Society, submitted an open letter to LOKO as the main student body of KU Leuven, condemning the activities hosted by Kring Eoos and requested that this matter be brought up in the upcoming meeting of all associations under LOKO on the 13th of November 2019.
Leonardo, Undivided, and Feminist Society are student groups that focus on diversity and inclusion, and they met with representatives from LOKO, led by Lana van den Heuvel, on Wednesday the 6th of November 2019. Chelsea Rodriguez, representative of Leonardo, said the following after the meeting: “The meeting went well, we felt heard and think LOKO are moving forward with some good plans to ensure an event like this doesn’t happen again. We (Leonardo, Undivided, and the Feminist Society) stressed that we don’t want this to become an ‘Us vs Them’ situation; we are all students at KU Leuven, and we should be on the same team to ensure that all students feel welcome and feel like they have a place at the university,”
As the university strives to provide an inclusive and safe environment, KU Leuven has a Diversity Policy Office which "aims to promote an inclusive culture so that people with different backgrounds and beliefs get the chance to fully develop themselves" as well as a help desk for Unacceptable Behaviour and Harassment open to anyone who might experience verbal or physical aggression because of their gender, sexuality, race, beliefs ...
The Voice is also always open to submissions of opinions for your voice to be heard: firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think about the Politically Incorrect Evening"of Kring Eoos? Let us know by e-mail or through our facebook page.