In Flanders, student societies play a unique role in student life. Student societies there have traditionally been politically active, and they played a significant part in the 1960s division of the Catholic University of Leuven into separate Flemish and Walloon universities.
A student society in Flanders is led by a praesidium. The head of the praesidium (and the society) is the praeses. Alternative spellings are presidium and preses. For most positions, Dutch names are used nowadays.
Other positions include:
Vice-praeses: assists the praeses where needed.
Quaestor: takes care of the money.
Ab-actis: the secretary of the student organisation.
Cantor: Leads the cantus.
Vertor: Organises cultural activities.
Scriptor: Is responsible for creating a magazine.
Bacchus: Makes sure there is enough beer.
Dominus morum: Is responsible for keeping order at a cantus.
Positions are flexible, and change to meet the needs of the student organisation.
Student societies used to be politically engaged, but are now more focused on organizing parties, cantus, and cultural activities.
Student societies also exist at polytechnics.
New members go through an initiation ritual before becoming full members of a Flemish student society. A new member is called schacht and has to undergo a baptism. The baptism is the first step to integration in the student society. The next (and last) step to becoming a full-fledged member is the ontgroening. After the ontgroening, one becomes a normal member or commilito of the organization, and can join the praesidium if one so chooses. Normal members are also referred to as anciens.
See also: Education in Belgium
In Wallonia and Brussels, several types of francophone student societies exist:
A cercle regroup students from the same faculty
A regionale regroup students coming from the same...