Initiations in Ghent

The initiation is a traditional activity that has been an important part of student life for over a century. It serves as a way to form close companionship with your fellow students; a companionship which can last a lifetime. The initiation itself is supposed to be a fun activity full of challenges and errands that result in great memories to kick off your student life in Ghent.

The Student Activities Office, together with the konventen, takes a proactive role to guarantee the orderly conduct of these traditional activities. Of the circa 140 official student associations, 80 will organise initiation activities throughout the year. Organising an initiation involves a strict adherence to the official rules and procedures that have been established throughout the years for the safety and well-being of everyone involved. During the summer months, every initiating association creates a script that contains all initiation-related activities. First aid courses are organised and insurance policies are checked. After the voluntary registration of the rushees (minors require written permission from their guardian), the medical forms of all participants are filled in and necessary precautions are taken for allergies and medical conditions. The konventen provide complete first-aid kits that are required to be present on every initiation activity.

The Ghent Initiation Decree has been a staple of student life since the turn of the century. Throughout the years the decree became more strict by adding rules on alcohol consumption and prohibiting practices such as nudism. The decree is evaluated yearly and edited if required, after which it is signed by all associations during the changing of the academic year. Since academic year 2010-11 every recognised student association in Ghent is a signatory of the decree. Correct following of the rules is checked by the DSA and the konventen, which often results in little sleep for patrolling students during initiation and pledging periods.

Since academic year 2019-20 there is also a Flemish initiation charter, based on the Ghent model. This charter does not replace the Ghent Initiation Decree, as the Ghent Initiation Decree is much deeper and more extensive. In academic year 2021-2022 the Ghent Initiation Decree was revised during a months-long conference with the various associations, the City of Ghent and Ghent University. Since the autumn of 2022, the new initiation decree, in which friendship and fraternization are central, has come into effect. With the new decree, trust goes hand in hand, whereby confidants are available within each konvent for participants in the initiation. When registering, each participant will receive a flyer with the contact details of the confidant who they can reach both in name and anonymously.

Did you see or hear something about an initiation that you want to report? Contact the student coordinator Emilie De Rycke via emilie.derycke@ugent.be.

Questions around initiations? Do not hesitate to contact us via dopen@student.ugent.be.