Ut vivat, crescat et floreat: the student association SK Ghendt is 90 years old. The SK brings together 30 regional clubs, college clubs and pub clubs from Ghent and organises weekly activities for their members. The annual highlight? The commemoration of the occupation of the Gravensteen castle.
Senior Seniorum Ben Cremer (left) and PR manager Saar Verniest (right) tell us more about their hobby that got out of hand.
Ben: We are the oldest student club association in Ghent. 90 years ago, after the First World War and after the dutchification of our university, the then 13 regional student clubs decided to better organize themselves and unite in an umbrella convention: the Seniorenkonvent.
"A club or association must have existed for at least 5 years before it can join the SK. First there will be a trial year in which the club is invited to all activities and to our meetings. This way, both the club itself and we can see whether we match and whether the collaboration is successful. After that year, voting takes place at the senior council, the weekly meeting with all presidents of our clubs. Last year we gained two clubs. "
Student associations are really valuable
Ben:"We are affiliated with Ghent University, but in terms our clubs and associations do not really have a link with the academic side. For example, we do not have book sales at the start of the academic year."
Saar: "Therefore we must be a bit more creatieve with our membership recruitment. For example, the Ostend regional club Dionysus recruits students at the Ostend station on Sunday evenings at the start of the academic year. Our clubs also try to get final-year secondary school students enthusiastic about club life. But we notice that there are fewer and fewer students interested every year. I think student clubs has received a lot of bad media attention in recent years. In addition, we also went through the corona outbreak of course. And life is also becoming more expensive, which means that students spend less time going out and, for example, throw more parties in their dorms."
Ben: "Student club life is really valuable. We have proven this during the corona period. We organized online activities that created connections between the students. Many barely knew their fellow students at the time. That shows that we have a role to play. Student life is not just about drinking and partying. But that is difficult to convey to society."
The greatest student joke of all time
Ben: ": The clubs within our association organise a lot of activities. We at the SK also organise weekly, sometimes biweekly, various activities such as cantuses, cantor evenings and all kinds of sports activities."
"The Gravensteenfeesten are the highlight of our year. That's a commemoration of the greatest student joke of all time. On Wednesday, November 16 1949, 74 years ago this year, 138 students (including one girl) occupied the Gravensteen castle in the city centre to protest against the increase in beer prices. That Wednesday pamphlets were distributed at all faculties calling for a secret gathering at the castle. The building was decorated with playful student slogans while police and fire brigades were treated to overripe fruit and smoke bombs.
The first commemoration ceremony was held in 1950. Not by the SK, but by the veterans committee. It was such a success that it was made an annual party. The Battle of the Gravensteen has since been commemorated with a procession and a reoccupation. That really is quite an organization. We celebrate the Gravensteenfeesten from early in the morning until late at night with around 1000 students and sympathizers."
A hobby that got out of hand
Ben: "For me the SK is a hobby that got a bit out of hand for me. Our association is very much like a family. Everybody knows each other. Not only in our own board, but also between the clubs. That helps to keep it fun, no matter how busy it can sometimes be. There is always a great atmosphere at every activity."
last year in student life. It is more than worth the commitment, but it is time for the new generation. Next year we will just enjoy all the activities without organizing them ourselves (laughs)."
There's more to being a student than just studying. Take the test on durfdoen.be and find out which association you will feel at home in.
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