Brussels universities VUB and ULB commemorate their founder on 17 and 18 November

Brussels universities VUB and ULB commemorate their founder on 17 and 18 November

Saint-Verhaegen celebration returns after three-year break

Tuesday, 15 November - After an absence of three years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the students of Brussels’ free universities VUB and ULB are once again packing the centre of the capital to celebrate the founder of the institutions, known as St-V. Beforehand, numerous official activities will take place to honour the foundation of the university on 20 November 1834 by Théodore Verhaegen. This year, for the first time, the celebration is spread over two days: Thursday 17 and Friday 18 November (20 November falls on a Sunday).

The highlight will be at the Grote Zavel where, on Friday afternoon, thousands of students and former students will gather for another exuberant St-V celebration. As usual, the Brussels Student Society and the Association des Cercles Etudiants have chosen a topical theme: “Bear your laws without aborting our rights.”

BSG president Joyce Verbrugghen: “The theme is not only incredibly topical given that abortion rights and broader women’s rights are under pressure in several parts of the world, it also refers to a wider social climate in which acquired human rights and scientific certainties are no longer taken for granted due to disinformation and polarisation.” ​

At 16.30, the procession will move from the Zavel to the steps of the Beurs building, where students will sing the hymns of VUB and ULB: the Lied Van Geen Taal and Le Semeur.


The rectors of both universities are delighted that St-V celebrations can take place again.

Jan Danckaert (VUB): “It has been three years since the Verhaegen commemoration was able to physically and fully take place. For us, St-V is extremely important. After all, in these turbulent times, we need the compass that Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen and his supporters have passed on to us, the compass of independent research, free thinking and a thorough social commitment.”
Annemie Schaus (ULB): “Covid-19 forced us to cancel the Saint-Verhaegen festivities in past years. This year, we are happy to bring together the two university communities of ULB and VUB to highlight our common commitment, with our partners from the City of Brussels and the municipality of Elsene.” ​

Intangible heritage

Brussels mayor Philippe Close is also pleased: “The City of Brussels is delighted that students will once again be able to celebrate their traditional St-V on 18 November. Last month, the third edition of the graduation ceremony for 6,000 students from VUB and ULB took place on the Grote Markt. The historical ties between Brussels and its two universities are getting stronger and stronger. I wish everyone a great St-V.”

Since 2019, St-V has been part of the Brussels Region’s inventory of intangible cultural heritage. It received this recognition for its contribution to the city’s “multifaceted, independent and rebellious character and identity”.



17.00 Guided Saint-Verhaegen walk with former university archivist (VUB) Frank Scheelings. Meet at the Minerva Fountain on the Grote Zavel. Details and registration here.

18.00 Reading of “Francisco Ferrer - Vive l’École Moderne!” by Jean-Claude Idée. Dupréelzaal, Building S, Johannalaan 44, 1050 Brussels. Registration here.

19.30 Commemoration, torchlight procession and fraternity and solidarity drink offered by l’Union des Anciens Etudiants.

The procession will depart from the Dupréelzaal and pass the statues of Théodore Verhaegen and Francisco Ferrer (Rooseveltlaan) before making its way to Square G (Solbosch campus). From Square G, the procession moves with torches to the VUB campus, for a tribute at the De Stap monument near the Braem building at 20.45. The procession will end at La Maison de l’UAE (ULB campus de la Plaine) where participants will raise a glass to fraternity from 21.15.


8.00 Coffee and croissants, at the invitation of the two rectors and the mayor of Elsene Christos Doulkeridis.

Elsene town hall, Elsensesteenweg 168, 1050 Brussels

8.45 Departure of buses from Elsene town hall. ​

9.15 Speeches and floral tributes at the Cemetery of Brussels at the graves of Théodore Verhaegen, Frans Kufferath and Henri La Fontaine.

Kerkhof van Brussellaan, 1140 Brussels

10:15 Ceremony and floral tribute at the National Shooting Range with roll of honour of the executed.

Kolonel Bourgstraat 102, 1030 Brussels

11.15 Departure of buses to Brussels City Hall.

12.00 Joint VUB-ULB session in the Gothic Hall of Brussels City Hall, at the invitation of the two rectors and the mayor of Brussels Philippe Close.

13:30 Glass of Friendship in the Militia Hall of City Hall.

From 12.00, students of the Brussels Student Society of the VUB and l’Association des Cercles Etudiants of ULB will gather on the Grote Zavel. The celebrations will end on the steps of the Beurs where, around 17.00, the universities’ anthems will be sung. ​

Press contacts 

  • VUB: Spokesperson and general press contact - Nathalie Vlaemynck - 0479 87 23 26
  • VUB: Brussels Student Society - Gérard Lichtert - Vice-president BSG - 0474 21 46 45 ​
  • City of Brussels: Wafaa Hammich, spokesperson for the Mayor - 0484 87 06 61
  • ULB: Association des Cercles Étudiants de l’ULB - Clara Michel - 0470 47 49 41
Nathalie Vlaemynck
Nathalie Vlaemynck Woordvoerder en algemeen perscontact



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