The quietness on the blog here is a consequence of the very busy Christmas period at VSETH. Apart from appointments such as ETH Day, IDEALiStiC, the Budget MR or the VSS DV (blog articles will hopefully follow in January), Christmas means that we, as the board, say thank you to many people and organisations who have supported us over the past year. What sounds nice at first (and it is!) means a considerable organisational effort: 311 cards were written, signed by each board member and distributed together with 143 bottles of wine, 66 small and 49 large Samichlaussäckli (bags filled with chocolates). Our evenings were filled with wonderful Christmas dinners, even if that means that by the fifth fondue (or in the case of Mara and Nils already by the first) you can no longer see any cheese. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people we had the pleasure of meeting and working with during the past semester. A very big thank you goes to the Study Associations and committees whose board members made our day with their visits to our office in CAB. Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you next year!
Category: University Politics
Last Thursday evening, on November 4th, we met with 35 other students interested in university politics in the HG. After a short round of introductions with name, study program and expectations for the evening, we gave a short introduction to our daily life as Hopo board members. In order to be able to discuss more freely in a smaller setting, we then divided into discussion groups on the following topics;
- Student participation
- General Think Tank
- Mental Health
- Beyond Covid
- Performance elements and testing
- Soft skills, marketability
Accompanied by vegan sushi and drinks, we exchanged views on what the respective status quo is and what the areas for action are. From this, concrete measures were then formulated, which were then presented in plenary. These were, for example, the demand to revise the academic calendar, one of our projects with the new rector, and making it easier to do an internship outside the academic framework. After that, there was the opportunity to exchange ideas independently of the groups and to get to know each other in a relaxed setting. In the final feedback session, we were particularly pleased to hear that even the participants who were only attracted by sushi were involved in interesting discussions and were themselves positively surprised by the evening. Due to the overwhelming demand, we will hold another Hopo round table this semester on December 13th (register for it here), where we will, among other things, discuss the academic calendar.
This Tuesday (02.11.) the third meeting of the Associations’ Council (Fachvereinsrat – FR) this semester took place. Unlike other FRs, this time the joint program started with a guided tour of the site development on the Hönggerberg, where we were introduced to the new construction projects, in particular the upcoming student center HIC, and the sustainability strategy on campus. After an aperitif (Apéro) in the alumni lounge, we headed to the HIL for the actual meeting. In the following three hours the agenda was worked through; after organizational matters and the announcements of the Chair of the Associations’ Council, it was time for the exchange of the student associations. This time information was exchanged about who can lend what, e.g. a slushie machine from VMP or fondue caquelons from APV. Due to a request to change the agenda, the board came next with VSS announcements, this time consisting of an information about the initiative “animal and human experimentation ban” and an update on Erasmus+. Afterwards, in the general board announcements a motion on the sustainability of the ETH Board was presented and feedback on wiegETHs measures in the departments was collected. For the board statements the board left the room to allow delegates to gather questions for the board anonymously. The following discussion with everyone began with a round where each board member reported what had been on her or his mind the most over the past few weeks. The Treasury was pleased to report that the board now has access to its bank accounts. The two communication board members (Kommus) reported on the open day and shared that our common room no longer smells like curry sausage. After a short break, the last hour was devoted to revising the bylaws. The ARA (AGO Revision Consulting Board, AGO stands for the General Rules of Procedure) presented the most drastic changes to the bylaws, to which the student associations could then react. After the meeting there was the possibility to exchange outside and to drink a cup of mulled wine.
In the Associations’ Council (FR – Fachvereinsrat) 1-2 people (delegates) of the 17 student associations of VSETH meet, having one voting right per student association. In addition, the VSETH board has 1 voting right and is represented most of the time by at least one person per office. We will introduce the individual offices in a future blog post. As needed and wanted, certain Consulting Boards and committees participate without voting rights. The FR meets approximately every 3 weeks, alternating between the Center and the Hönggerberg. The meetings are conducted by the Chair of the Associations’ Council (FR-Präsidium), currently Julia Fähnrich and Leonard Knirsch, who also collect the agenda items (Traktanden) and organize the meeting. In order for the delegates to get to know each other and to exchange informally, the FR-Präsidium also organizes a common dinner (Znacht) before the meeting, as well as a wind-down afterwards. During the meeting strategic and university-political decisions are made, such as how to deal with Covid or a preliminary discussion of the ETH Store strategy. In addition, tasks between the Delegates’ Council (MR – Mitgliederrat) are undertaken, such as interim elections, i.e. provisional elections and appointments of persons who are then confirmed at the next MR, or the review of the work of the Executive Board. Also, the FR is a way to have a say in VSETH as an association and promotes cooperation among the student associations. This includes the provision of money in the FR-pot (FR-Topf) to support joint projects or the discussion of topics that affect all student associations, e.g. purchase of a coffee machine for the student associations on the Hönggerberg or the procedure in grade conferences.
The graphic below shows an overview of the structures in VSETH and may still seem a bit confusing. Therefore, we will take time in the coming weeks to bring you closer to the different bodies and connections in VSETH.
We are pleased to announce the first university politics roundtable of this semester on November 4th, starting at 7:00pm in Zentrum. You’ll have the opportunity to meet other like-minded and unlike-minded people and discuss current university politics issues. Food (minor spoiler, there will be vegan sushi) and drink will be provided free of charge. The exact location and topics will be communicated in a confirmation email next week. Participation is possible in English and German. We look forward to seeing you there! Click here to register.
From the 22nd to the 24th of October, we were in Pizol, St. Gallen, with 33 motivated and university-politically interested students from different student associations and committees for a weekend full of workshops, games and good food. Maybe some of you still know the old name, FRUKDuK, which is an acronym of the different committees (FR – Fachvereinsrat, Associations’ Council; UK – Unterrichtskommission, Teaching Committee; DK – Departementskonferenz, Department Conference) of student participation. The weekend is organized by the FR presidency with the aim of exchanging ideas and thoughts on various current university politics issues. This time, different workshops took place on the topics of participation culture in VSETH, future of digital platforms for teaching (Moodle, Ilias, …) as well as new projects such as a Festival of Nations or a VSETH Student Helpdesk. We are now taking the ideas generated there into our daily work and are trying to implement as much of it as possible in a timely manner. Apart from the content, the weekend was accompanied by the finest food (Indian paneer, crepes, scones, cheesecake, dumplings, vegan doughnuts, …), here again a big thanks to the kitchen team! Fun and fellowship were not neglected either; on Friday evening there was a torch run with stations where we solved various tasks, Saturday afternoon part of the group enjoyed the view during a hike and on Saturday evening a game in a medieval setting challenged the improvisation skills of the participants. If you are now also interested in university politics, you can already make a note of the 18-20.03.2022, because the next Hopo weekend will take place there. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to know more about the weekend, you can read a detailed article in the next issue of Polykum (No. 2, 2021/2022).
The VSS (Association of Swiss Student Bodies) is the voice of the students in Federal Bern. Various sections (student bodies) from all over Switzerland are part of it, including us as VSETH. Once a month, one delegate from each section meets in the small legislature, the Section Council, in Bern and exchanges ideas about various concerns that affect all student bodies. At the beginning, the quorum is determined, which means that it is checked that enough sections from the French-speaking area are present. This is due to the fact that the VSS wants to live the diversity of the Swiss languages and therefore in all meetings people are free to raise their concerns in German or French. At the last Section Council, these included a position paper on the application of the Covid certificate requirement and a discussion on promoting commission work and student engagement. Twice a year, the large legislative body, the Delegates Assembly (DV), meets, where the number of voters depends on the size of the section. There, the proposals of the Section Council as well as topics of the association as a whole, such as the budget and the accounts, are discussed and approved.
In addition, there are four thematic commissions which prepare position papers and political statements. In the CIS (Commission for International Affairs and Solidarity), Erasmus+, a petition in support of students from Belarus and perspectives on studies were discussed most recently. In the CodEg (Equal Opportunities Commission), workshops on racism and studying with disabilities were recently planned. In the HopoKo (Higher Education Policy Commission), scholarships, third-party funding at universities and sustainability in canteens were discussed. In the SoKo (Social Commission) the last time the topic was affordable housing for students.
If one of the topics appeals to you and you would like to get involved, you are welcome to contact us (email@example.com). The commissions are happy to welcome participants who are not only from the boards of the sections.
This morning we met with Stella, the Co-Secretary General of IDEALiStiC, to discuss the program of the upcoming conference. The acronym IDEALiStiC stands for IDEA League Students in Conference and brings together students from all IDEA League universities – namely TU Delft, RWTH Aachen, Chalmers Tekniska Högskola, Politecnico Milano and ETH Zurich – to launch initiatives and provide supportive advice to the IDEA League on issues such as teaching or student well-being. In addition, it organises two conferences per year, of which the first face-to-face conference since corona is now taking place in Zurich. This year, the focus is on European Universities 2050, with subtopics such as mental health, teaching and campus design. There will be workshops on these topics and the resulting ideas will then be bundled and put on paper at the General Assembly. As a change to the work phases and to promote exchange, there will be a varied social programme with a campus tour, a city tour and Älplermagronen (swiss-style mac’n cheese). We are now making room and meal reservations and are finalising the ETH delegation.
Hello and welcome to this website which for the next year we are filling with current topics regarding university politics. We, that is Mara and Leah. We both study Interdisciplinary Sciences (Bio-N) in the 7th semester and will advocate your topics during the next year. Be it involvement of international students, study places, participation or education, with us you can talk about what you want to see changed at ETH and we will try our best to support these topics towards ETH and other committees. If you want to have a say as well, please reserve the 4th of November from 19:00 – 22:00, since then we will have our first university politics regulars’ table this semester. More information is following here and on other information channels. We are looking forward to meeting you!
The final report of the Spring 2019 Equal Opportunity and Mental Health Survey has finally been completed this week. Want to know how students in your department regard their own equality and mental health? Then take a look!
We have summarized the results of the survey and split them into three categories: General Health; Mental Health; and Discrimination & Misconduct (gender origin, gender identity). The survey was for all of the ETH and results were also analyzed specifically for every department. For all categories we have written action papers to which the rectorate has positioned itself.
Perhaps you have already heard about the WiegETHs project, whether as a topic of conversation in the hallway, at the student association council (FR), or while being a representative at one of the departmental meetings. In order to work out the evaluation precisely with the respective parties concerned, we had discussions with all of the student associations and their respective departments. The main goal was to present the departments with the results of the survey and to receive a written statement from each department explaining their position and their ideas for future action. Fortunately, we have received a position paper from all departments except for one. The cooperation with most departments was extremely positive and their statements included many proposals for future measures. However, some of the departments did not respond to the results or our efforts. You can find the exact classification and explanation of this in the report.
If we have captured your interest, and you want to know the results of this project, please have a look at the report: https://vseth.ethz.ch/politik/wiegeths! Yes, we know it looks frightfully long at first, but do not worry – you can also just read through the information that interests you. For example:
- “What is the state of students’ mental health in my department?”
- “Are foreign students at a disadvantage at the ETH?”
- “How are LGBTQIA+ students supported by the rectorate?”
The VSETH would like to thank everyone who supported the project, and those that helped with this issue and who made the completion of the report possible. We hope you will feel free to give us feedback or ask questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome any inspiration!