I have been studying at the University of Brussels or in French Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). In the English translation there is a very important word that is missing LIBRE (translation: FREE). What does the word FREE mean? Well there are several definitions, on my “Follow your dream” necklace, this is what they wrote:
“Freedom is the opportunity to find happiness and the liberty to follow your dreams”
I really like their definition of FREEDOM because for me having dreams and dreaming is very important, they compel you sometimes do to things that scare you or to take risks. And even sometimes if dreams are hard to achieve, “one who risks nothings, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by his certitude, he is a slave, he has forfeited FREEDOM. Only a person who risks is FREE”. (Leo Buscaglia)
However what does it mean to be FREE, in particular in an university where they give you the opportunity to follow your dreams? In ULB’s student guide this is what they wrote:
Dans ULB, il y a le “L”. Que signifie-t-il pour nous? Il renvoie à l’attitude du libre examen, celle de l’homme libre, qui ne se soumet à aucun dogme, à aucune idée totalitaire, quelle qu’elle soit. Ce “L” de liberté signifie donc que nous nous engageons moralement à ce que notre conscience reste toujours libre.
English: In ULB, there is the “L”. What does it mean for us? It makes reference to the principle of free enquiry, the one of the free man, who isn’t subject to any dogma, totalitarian idea, whatever they are. The “L” in Liberté (Freedom/Liberty) means that we are morally committed that our conscience is always free.
Please watch the youtube video That’s not enough from ULBruxelles that explains more about the university’s spirit and their “free” position (Note: in French “brassage” was translated into “mixing”, actually it should be “brewing” and therefore a play on words with brewing beer and brew (mix) of people ). (Note in the video: 1:23 is the Economic’s building Solvay that I mentioned in my previous post La brassicole). The “freedom” in Université Libre de Bruxelles school administration and point of view can be debated on.
In my opinion I am living everyday their definition of a FREE University, especially for the research course I am taking. I have seen the professor who supervises me only once this semester, I got very little guidelines on how to write my scientific research article that is due at the end of the semester and nobody really verifies that I am going to the school to do testings or not. Also, the professor didn’t even tell me, I found out on my own, that with the research course there is a mandatory tutorial (TP) that I have to attend every week and in which students give presentations of their research or work with a patient in a hospital. Nevertheless, all of this forced me to be independent, to try to find solutions to my problems on my own and although it seemed very scary at the beginning of the semester, I learned a lot so far. Moreover, the tutorial is interesting because one has to diagnose the patient in the clinical cases presented. Although I am not a master student and not a psychology student (I’m doing a double major in Neuroscience and French literature!), it is very hard for me to participate in the class discussions, yet at the same time it pushes me to think further than my own knowledge.
What does “freedom” mean to you? Are you “free” at the U of T? In your university?