A group of students caught on camera mimicking sexual acts on the campus of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) have been issued an official warning following a meeting on Monday to discuss the incident.
The footage first seen on social media on Thursday showed a group mimicking what was thought to be sexual acts on each other and resulted in the university closing down the groups in question while an investigation was held, Belga News Agency reports.
While the incident was thought to be part of a student baptism, the ULB has since confirmed it was a volunteer event involving older students. "The persons who participate in these activities do so voluntarily, there is no obligation," the university said in a statement.
Following the incident, a meeting was held between those involved and ULB's vice-rector for student affairs, Alain Levêque, to decide on further action.
Firstly, ULB now prohibits any activity that leads to nudity during all student activities, Ophélie Boffa, head of the University's communication service explained. Previously, this was only the case for hazing rites and other events involving students - often first years - who are trying to get into student associations (called 'schachten' in Dutch). Now, this will be extended to senior members and students on the board of the club (called 'presidium'). The suggestion came from the chairs of the involved student clubs themselves, says ULB.
Secondly, the three offending students "have been given a warning and, if they offend again, they will have to appear before the disciplinary commission," Boffa added.
In a reaction sent on Monday evening, the Association of ULB student circles (ACE) and the Law and Polytechnic circles said they wished to clear up misunderstandings regarding what was happening in the video. The three organisations stress that the scene filmed was not a sexual act but rather "a biblical act, admittedly unusual".
"As regards the question of nudity, our circles agree that the acts filmed were inappropriate and may offend the sensibilities of an outside audience," the ACE and the two circles acknowledge.
This article was updated on 19/10/2021 to include reactions from the Association of ULB student circles (ACE) and the Law and Polytechnic circles.