KU Leuven Student Died After Hazing Gets Out of Hand

Soon in Leuven

14 december 2018
Auteur(s): Ronald Tipan
Antwerp Prosecutors Opens Investigation

Translated to English. Originally appeared on Veto website in Dutch.

KU Leuven student Sanda Dia passed away last Friday and 'student club' Reuzegom have been disbanded. The university rector prepared an official statement this past Monday and obliged the other clubs to sign a very strict set of rules concerning initiations. As well, all initiation-activities have been prohibited the rest of the school year. The members of Reuzegom responsible for the student's death will be prosecuted.

The three students had been carrying out tasks during an initiation-activity organized by Reuzegom, a Leuven student society for Antwerp students. The students suffered from hypothermia and from drinking large quantities of fish oil, which had a high concentration of salt and caused the student to have a higher blood pressure than normal. He had a heart attack whilst at the emergency ward. 

The other students who survived have reportedly been discharged from the hospital. The public prosecution of Turnhout has opened an investigation. No arrests have been made. However, several students have been questioned.

LOKO, a Leuven student association, has announced that they will not discuss this matter at this time until further notice “out of respect for the victim and the people around him,” stating: “we emphasize that this society does not have ties with our association and strongly disapprove of the irresponsible behaviour of this society. 

KU Leuven also distanced itself from the student society in question. Vice rector for Student Affairs Chantal Van Audenhove said  that “We think of what happened as appalling and will hold the students who organised the hazing accountable. We strongly empathize with the victim’s family and friends.”

Hazing charter

The student society Reuzegom has attracted negative attention in the past, having been accused by the animal welfare organisation GAIA of maltreating a piglet during a hazing incident in 2009, for which the members involved were forced to pay a fine.

Student unions associated with KU Leuven are obligated by LOKO and KU Leuven to sign a hazing charter, which contains rules regarding hazing malpractices. Student societies, however, are not obligated to do so, resulting in less control of their respective hazing rituals.

At the beginning of the current academic year, University of Leuven launched an initiative to meet with a number of student societies to sign the charter, an initiative which has so far remained without result.