The Leuven student umbrella organisation Loko is working on a new student codex that seeks to eliminate some of the more controversial cantus songs, including at least one that has the n-word.
A cantus is an activity organised by mainly Belgian, Dutch, French, Baltic, or Afrikaans fraternities and student organisations, wherein members get together and sing traditional songs and drink beer. A cantus is governed by strict traditional rules, and the songs are generally sung from a written codex that members have.
The Leuven codex was published in 1955 by former members of the Catholic Flemish High Students Association (KVHV) in Leuven. Loko, which represents some 50,000 students in Leuven, says it is working on a new one that will be more diverse and politically neutral.
“Student circles say they need a modern codex,” Joppe Ruts, spokesperson for Loko, told De Standaard. “Today, there is only one Leuven student codex, that of the KVHV. They have a politically conservative stamp and some songs are controversial. Not all students agree, but until now they had no other choice.”
“As a politically neutral organisation, Loko wants to release a copy that is more broadly supported by the student population. The KVHV members, like all other students, have a voice in the reform as far as we are concerned,” said Ruts.
The president of the Leuven KVHV doesn’t want the result to be two codices.
“We argue for uniformity,” said Brecht Crabbe. “It is an advantage that all Leuven students can sing the same songs at every cantus. Our codex has a long tradition. It is a bit of heritage. But we are open to renewal.”
Crabbe’s hope is that the existing codex can be edited.
“In the current edition, things can be added or deleted if there are good arguments for doing so. But we do not think that students are asking for certain songs to be deleted. Most of them see the humour of the texts,” said Crabbe.
A working group will look into the reform. It is not yet clear who will be on it and what new features will be introduced.
“Now that student life is at a standstill, it is an ideal moment,” said Ruts. “We hope to have the new code ready for the new academic year. We hope that cantuses will be able to take place again then.”