KU Leuven suspends 7 members of Reuzegom student fraternity

Seven members of the now disbanded student fraternity club Reuzegom have been issued with suspensions by Leuven University. The students are being suspended for their involvement a hazing ceremony that led to the death of fellow student Sanda Dia in 2018. Previously the university had issued the students with only relatively mild sanctions for their involvement in the 20-year-old’s death. However, after a second investigation into the events surrounding the death of the student it was decided that seven then members of Reuzegom should be more severely sanctioned. The university has now issued them with suspensions of 1 or more years. 

The seven students have appealed against their suspension. Initially they had been given community service and told to write a paper.

A solicitor representing one of the students told journalists that "Some of the students won’t be allowed to enrol at the university again until 2024. In effect this amounts to an exclusion”.

Another solicitor spoke of suspensions averaging 3 years.

The new investigation got under way in September after criticism that the initial sanctions dealt out were too lenient. The university asked to be given access to the Judicial Authorities' file on the case and this was granted. In the meantime, the former Reuzegom members were denied access to university buildings and obliged to follow courses by digital distance learning means.

The university has already said that the Judicial Authorities files contained new elements that it had not taken into consideration when originally sanctioning the students.  

The solicitor quoted above says that his client was already sanctioned by the university two years ago and now they are going to be punished again for the same thing. The solicitor adds that only the younger former Reuzegom members that were less involved in Sanda Dia’s death are being punished as the older students that played a leading role in the hazing have already graduated. 

Criminal investigation

In addition to the KU Leuven’s disciplinary investigation there is also a criminal investigation into Sanda Dia’s death. The 20-year-old died in 2018 at a hazing ceremony during which he had to drink large quantities of alcohol and fish oil and stand for hours in the blistering cold. 

The Judicial Authorities hope to prosecute the 18 members of the now disbanded student fraternity for involuntary manslaughter, inhumane treatment and culpable omission.  

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