Rector Caroline Pauwels reacts to open letter

Open answer about the Brussels Universities Cyclocross

(Lees de Nederlandstalige versie hier)

Dear students,

We realize that a cyclocross event on a university campus is not an everyday event. While some think that this is an “outside the box” cool idea, others might not agree and think that VUB should have not gotten involved with such event.

There has been a commotion regarding the cyclocross that led to an open letter addressed to me. I understand the unease, and admittedly, the timing is not ideal. However, the message of the open letter is not necessarily based on correct information.

Hence, I will engage in an “open answer” to put these inaccuracies to rest.

On the Sunday of 6th January, the round of the DVV Insurance Trophy will take place on the VUB Brussels Humanities, Sciences and Engineering Campus and on the Campus de la Plaine of ULB.

All practical information about any logistic nuisance is public on: The link can be used when anyone wants updates on the event. This has been communicated recently through our official channels of communications, the student newsletter, STUDENT.VUB and through an interview in de Moeial.

We have heard the concerns of the students through various channels and behind the scenes, a lot of effort was put to meet these concerns half way. From the beginning of our discussions with the organizers we have taken into consideration how the cyclocross might affect and work along the student life.

Today it is certain that the entrance to the race is free for all students, staff and alumni. From the beginning we looked for good alternatives for study spaces during the massablok (pre-exam study time). These alternatives have also been found. This year we offer two alternatives for study spaces close-by the campus, that are big enough to fit 500 and 200 people, respectively. As a result, there will be more than 1000 study spaces on Saturday 5th January and 700 study spaces on Sunday 6th January. During the same weekend last year, the absolute maximum of students in the study spaces during the study time was respectively 476 and 491 students.

Unfortunately, a lot of false information is being circulated. For example, we read that students should pay to access their kot. This was untrue at all times. We also heard that the campus will be closed during the event. Which is also untrue.

The damage caused on campus after the race will be fully restored and this will take several weeks or maybe longer, depending on weather conditions. The damage – we mean the grass here- is not substantial and is fairly easy to repair.

The VUB will not cancel the cyclocross. As the rector, joined and supported by the Board of Directors, I believe that this event will present opportunities that go beyond simple marketing. We see a bonding event that also gives the opportunity to the VUB community to come together for a sporty afternoon. This can also be an opportunity to relax for the students during the stressful study period. We can gather from the registrations that beside the group of dissatisfied people there is also a group of students, staff and alumni that are interested and embrace the cross.

After the event we will come to an agreement regarding this with the opponents and supporters of the event. In the meantime, I will happily receive a delegation from you in my office.


Caroline Pauwels

Your rector

Each author writes in their own name or in that of their institution. They are themselves wholly responsible for the content of their writing.

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