Conservative UGent student club appeals suspension

Summary

KVHV Gent has been suspended for two months for its part in supporting the recent statements of one of its guest speakers

‘Women are so lazy’

The Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV) at Ghent University (UGent) is appealing the decision to suspend its activities for two months following a controversial talk it arranged on campus.

KVHV, which also has chapters in Antwerp, Leuven and Brussels, describes itself as a conservative “pro Flemish organisation that strives to elevate our people”. The clubs often host speakers, and the UGent chapter recently invited Jeff Hoeyberghs, a plastic surgeon from Limburg, to give a talk.

Hoeyberghs (pictured) worked for cosmetic surgery provider De Wellnesskliniek in Genk, where he underwent a series of suspensions of his medical licence for breaches in confidentiality. In 2006, he became a TV personality when the clinic was the subject of a VTM reality series.

Media spokesperson

He was soon asked to give his opinion about cosmetic surgery and beauty standards on various programmes. His views were often considered misogynistic. A few years later, when De Wellnesskliniek was accused of botching surgeries, Hoeyberghs was fired, and he started his own clinic.

According to Wolfgang Van Der Veken Vyncke, who represented KVHV on the news programme De afspraak, KVHV Gent invited Hoeyberghs “because we were familiar with his controversial views. We offered him the opportunity to shed some light on these views and the very controversial quotes for which he is known, in the spirit of an open debate”.

During his two-hour talk for nearly 100 students and staff who attended, Hoeyberghs, 58, said that the problem with the #MeToo movement was that “women want the privileges of male protection and their money, but they no longer want to open their legs for it”.

We offered him the opportunity to shed some light on these views, in the spirit of an open debate

- Wolfgang Van Der Veken Vyncke

He also said that “women are so lazy and have always taken men for granted, always manipulated them. So men have given them washing machines, dishwashers, cleaning women, everything – until they were made redundant.” And later: “You cannot treat a woman equally without becoming her slave.”

In the days following the talk, more than 1,000 people filed a complaint with the federal government’s Institute for the Equality of Women and Men. Both Hoeyberghs and KVHV have defended the statements as freedom of speech.

Last week, the PFK, UGent’s umbrella organisation for student associations, ordered a suspension of KVHV activities for two months starting on 1 January. The club will also not receive any subsidies for the period.

PFK also ordered KVHV to officially condemn Hoeyberghs’ statements and remove video of his talk from its website and social media channels. If it does not, it will be suspended for an additional three months.

KVHV has appealed the decision, which will now go to the university’s executive council for a hearing. The executive council is made up of the rector, vice-rector and members of academic, technical and administrative staff.

Photo courtesy Vlaasparlement.tv