Herman Van Rompuy inaugurates student residence

Herman Van Rompuy, the outgoing European President, travelled to Kortrijk yesterday afternoon to open Gouden Rivier, Vives university college’s new international student residence. The facade of the building will soon be decorated with a haiku he has composed.

The student residence on Beheerstraat and Meerstraat was built by ION, a property developer headquartered in Waregem. With its 96 rooms, including 18 double rooms, it is intended primarily for the ever-growing group of overseas students moving to the south of Wast Flanders to study. Although supply slightly exceeds demand, these students sometimes have trouble finding an affordable room quickly.

Because of this, the municipal authorities granted a building licence despite a construction ban. “The students in the town centre create a lively atmosphere, and this district is going to see more major changes in the years ahead: a room for parties, a new swimming pool and an events venue on the scale of Ghent’s Sint-Pieter Square,” says burgomaster Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld).

Despite his demanding schedule as President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy found the time for a tour of Kortrijk. “Don’t I have anything better to do?” he asked himself, and then gave three good reasons for coming to Kortrijk. “My wife was born here and went to school here, everything to do with Europe is of great interest to me, and so is everything to do with teaching,” he explained, also stating that he would like to teach more once he has completed his term as European President at the end of this year.

Mr Van Rompuy had written a haiku for the opening (free translation):

“The European house of the young
On the Gouden Rivier of Kortrijk
A home full of dreams”

The haiku will be displayed on the facade of the residence, which is already fully booked for the first semester. It will house students of fifteen different nationalities.


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