Discussion with Luc Sels

Date 27 November 2021
Category Ekonomika

Last Friday, we welcomed Rector Sels to the General Assembly of the Student Council to discuss the new Corona Policy at KU Leuven with the student representatives.

Preperation

In the run-up to our conversation with the rector, we did a general call to the economics students at all campuses of the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB). In cooperation with Ekonomika KULAK, Ekonomika Brussel, Absoc and ISCEB we collected your input to have a discussion with Luc Sels.

The red line through all the questions was clear: how do we as KU Leuven deal with the rising numbers and do we stay in code green? There was also an increasing concern about lessons not being recorded or streamed, especially for students in quarantine. Something that certainly counts for compulsory lessons. With these questions we went to the Student Council on Friday, other small questions we would pass on later.

Sels’ story

After a long day of meetings, Luc Sels came to talk about the new measures . The GEMS (the advisory group of experts on the corona situation) had proposed switching to code orange (20% of the aula capacity and in reality probably entirely online education) and suspending all student activities. “This goes completely against our ambition to finish the semester in code green”: Sels continued his explanation. Throughout the day, the pressure increased on KU Leuven to follow suit after UGent and VUB also introduced further restrictions on education.

But KU Leuven has opted for a different approach. The concept of colour codes is abandoned and we are moving more towards a tailor-made approach. Sels was also clear: the virus circulation is not located in the auditoriums, something that is also shown by the contact tracing in Leuven. As the social life outside the auditoriums remains open, it seemed ridiculous to close the auditoriums, as this is not where the problem lies. Also the impact on the mental well-being of the students so close to the exams was taken into account.

In concrete terms, students are still allowed to come to the auditorium, but recording and streaming of lessons will become compulsory. This way, students in quarantine and those who are not completely comfortable can also follow the lessons from home. In practice, this will sometimes lead to online teaching as many professors also drop out due to infection or high-risk contact. Rector Sels is also covering himself: “This is not a result commitment, what the situation will be in a week I cannot tell you.”

As student representatives we are very pleased that Rector Sels fought for full time contact education even though there was a lot of pressure on him. We will continue to work with the Student Council to maintain this.

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  • The exam period can safely take place as planned, in a 1 to 4 occupation. This was knocked off earlier and will not affect the exam planning anymore.

  • If stricter action is not taken locally by the government, the same approach will apply everywhere at KU Leuven.

  • Due to poor ventilation, capacity will be slightly reduced here, and the KURT reservation system will once again be used during the blocks and exams. This way, the learning centres can safely remain open.

  • This is difficult to say, Luc Sels could not promise anything either as the situation is constantly changing. We will keep you informed and continue to work for contact education until the start of the block.

-Simon Mertens, 27/11/2021