Norms and Values
At the end of academic year 2021-2022, from the VKV representation in the Social Council, the idea arose to develop a charter providing a framework for norms and values in student life. A nice idea started by the current challenges around student welfare: (sexually) transgressing behaviour, alcohol problems, inclusion... All in all: social difficulties within student life, in which the student associations can and want to play an essential role. From the need of the associations, the starting signal was given to organise a conference of norms and values. In collaboration between the FaculteitenKonvent, SeniorenKonvent and Home Konvent and with the support of the Student Activities Office.
This conference was certainly not the first great initiative from a konvent/association. For several years now, associations have been paying more attention to these important contemporary challenges, seeing the power of their konvent to help them further address these issues. Several konvents have paid extra attention in their operations to important contemporary challenges such as mental well-being, sustainability, (sexually) transgressive behaviour... From these initiatives, it is clear that there are high needs, in which we can find a lot of support from Ghent University and the city of Ghent. We notice from both associations and konventen that this sensitisation at events helps students and raises general awareness.
From UGent, there are 3 general goals: prevention, remediation and sanctioning. As of academic year 2023-2024, 3 training courses on prevention will be offered by UGent. First, a train the trainer will be provided for key figures in student life. From this train the trainer and the knowledge they have acquired, they will be able to give training on transgressive behaviour to the board members of recognised student associations at the beginning of the semester. In this way, the associations acquire the necessary knowledge and tools to deal with incidents of (sexually) transgressive behaviour and/or to refer them on if necessary. On top of that, we also increase the focus on student welfare. Students show very little help-seeking behaviour when they experience support needs. Early detection is therefore essential. With the WeCare project, we increase the knowledge of the entire UGent community (staff and students) on student welfare and referral channels so that students get the right help as quickly as possible when needed.
Every association can call on a toolbox for sensitisation (namely before the start of an activity) and remediation. The toolbox will be further refined in cooperation with the city of Ghent. Specifically for sensitisation, there would be a focus on organising events where student associations can use a checklist to find out how they can guarantee a safe space during their event. For remediation, specific tools are provided for aftercare and discipline, among other things.
In our current society, we cannot deny that it is and remains necessary to pay attention to challenges and difficulties such as alcohol issues, student welfare, transgressive behaviour, inclusiveness.... From the associations' point of view, in short, we want to ensure all norms and values in student life.