Eighteen members of the KU Leuven student association Reuzegom have been sentenced to perform two hundred to three hundred hours of community service and pay fines of around 400 euros, according to the court of Antwerp’s recent decision. Several thousand euros in damages have also been imposed, although this has gone unmentioned in most reports.

During hazing activities in 2018, twenty-year-old aspiring member Sanda Dia was forced to swallow live goldfish, eat ground mouse, drink large amounts of fish sauce and sit in a pit filled with icy water. He later died in hospital.

Criminal record

Hundreds of Belgians took to the streets out of discontent last week in Leuven, Antwerp and Brussels. This weekend, the protest grew to 1,500 demonstrators in Brussels, Ghent and Bruges, according to reports by Belgian broadcaster VRT. The demonstrators disagree with the punishments imposed and believe that the perpetrators should at least end up with a criminal record.

In their view, the verdict reflects class justice and racism. Unlike typical members within the association, Dia did not come from a wealthy and influential family. Racist motives were not discussed during the court proceedings.

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Fraternity members given community service for deadly hazing of Sanda Dia

Eighteen members of the KU Leuven Reuzegom fraternity have been sentenced to between 200…

The victim’s Senegalese father, Ousmane Dia, told weekly magazine HUMO that he believes discrimination was indeed involved. “Reuzegom is an elite student club, and Sanda was someone who didn’t fit their mould. His father didn’t have a big yard, a fancy driveway or a house of his own. Sanda wasn’t good enough for them.”

He called the ruling a slap in the face. “Sanda did not get the respect he deserves.” He is also displeased with the actions of KU Leuven. The rector allegedly failed to investigate what had happened and hold the members accountable. The university administration previously issued a response in newspaper Het Nieuwsblad stating that it was not authorised to investigate an association that was not affiliated with the institution. However, KU Leuven is currently examining whether its disciplinary procedures need to be adjusted.


Demonstrators also felt that Belgian media outlets should have disclosed the names of the members. They scanned the names and made name tags. A vlogger who also took part in the demonstrations previously sparked controversy by sharing the names and backgrounds of four Reuzegom members on his YouTube channel.

One of the member’s lawyers has called it a witch hunt and says the vlogger is taking the law into his own hands. The editorial staff of newspaper HLN wrote an opinion piece on the matter.