VUB statement about undocumented people on campus

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 — Since 19 February, approximately 40 undocumented migrants have occupied a room on VUB’s Etterbeek campus, as well as spaces at ULB and the Begijnhof church in central Brussels. These people wish to draw attention to their situation and therefore strengthen their demand for collective legalisation of their status. Yesterday, some of those present announced a hunger strike. While VUB understands the position of those involved, it regrets this action and hopes that they will reconsider their decision.

VUB believes it is not its place to take a political stand on this issue. It therefore opts for a two-pronged approach, based on its social mission on the one hand and its scientific mission as a research-driven educational institution on the other.

’We stand for truth, justice and the value of a human being'

In line with the university’s values and mission - freedom, equality and solidarity - we will treat the people on our campus with full respect. VUB is committed to providing them with proper infrastructure, including alternative spaces, showers and wifi, as well as psychosocial support. At the same time, the necessary measures will be taken to ensure public order and sanitary safety within the context of Covid-19 on campus. VUB thus wants to ensure regular operations on campus with respect for the students, staff and the undocumented people.

Focus on research and education

VUB wants to engage in social dialogue and debate by underpinning it with multi-faceted and multi-voiced research, with, among others, the research unit BIRMM (Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre on Migration and Minorities), the Hannah Arendt Institute and external experts. In this context, the Secretary of State for Migration, Sammy Mahdi, has also pledged to engage in dialogue and meetings.

The case of the undocumented migrants is also addressed in a publication by the BIRMM on "migration, equality and racism", which will be part of the university-wide elective course Reasonably Independent next academic year.