And now it’s official. The new school year officially opened on Thursday. The starting signal was given at the Antwerp City Theater by the University of Antwerp and the Consortium of Faculties. Hermann van Goethe, Dean of the University of Antwerp, spoke about the role of scientists, among other things. “They should not only inform, but also advocate and warn.”
More than a thousand students, teachers and staff from AP Hogeschool, Karel de Grote University College, Hogere Zeevaartschool and University of Antwerp gathered at the Antwerp City Theater on Thursday morning. With Covid Safe Ticket and without a mouth mask, the reunion was a joy to many after all those digital lectures last school year.
Traditionally, a number of speeches are set at the official opening of the new school year. Bart de Wever was allowed to bite the bullet. Among other things, he defended student life, which has also been greatly affected in the past year and a half. “There was nothing to try,” de Wever said. But those days are over. Normal life has begun again.”
A place for student traditions
The mayor also looked back at his school days and stressed the importance of student traditions. “When I found a second home in a barrel full of wet barley,” de Wever says. “Without this folklore, without that hard-to-decipher student language and ritual customs, the best years of a young man’s life would lose their luster and value. Student traditions have a place in our society, as long as they are respectfully preserved. The Antwerp Baptismal Charter is an excellent frame of reference for this ” .
The students themselves also took the floor. Yoon Baebe, vice president of the Student Council at AP Hogeschool, spoke about diversity. According to her, higher education in Antwerp is on the right track. “We must not only ensure that society is reflected in our higher education, but that everyone should truly feel at home as a full member. It is not just like being invited to a party, but being asked to dance.”
Hermann van Goethe, President of the University of Antwerp, in his academic address on the University of Tomorrow, focused on science and politics. Also considered the role of scholars. “Are scientists impartial? Do they just pass on information? No, they can also defend the case and warn based on their conviction,” said the rector. “Scientists formulate positions and opinions in their name. Knowledge is not without value, nor is the university in which they work.”
Upon leaving Stadschouwburg, a sunflower pin was given to all present. “It symbolizes all the good things we have experienced during the pandemic: leadership, synergy, teamwork and our ability to adapt,” Van Goethe explained. “These are things we want to take into account in the future.”