On March 14th in 1862, seven years after the foundation of the Federal Polytechnikum, students reunited to form a combat organisation. The “Poly-technical association in Zurich“ pursued the objectives that are still representative nowadays: It wanted to eliminate existing inequalities.
In 1864, there was a conflict, probably the only conflict to this extent, between “students” and “principle”. The Polytechnical association demanded the principle’s withdrawal. The authorities reacted to such situations by expelling the ringleaders. At that moment, the other 250 students showed their solidarity by leaving the university’s halls as well.
This kind of resistance seemed to sap on the associations forces. Its success throughout many years remained moderate. Too many obligations and an elitist policy of privileges dominated the unions’ routine.
Some decades ago, the students restarted to think more independently. A university’s policy, one that did no always cover with the federal policy and the school administration was the result. The development of ideas, the contribution and the implementation to the official ETH-policy changed to a fertile and constructive dialogue. The institutions inquire the students’ opinions and the co-operation in departments and committees is arranged statuary. Decades of dialogues and consultation have allowed VSETH to influence the policy of ETH, by far more than other student organisations and their universities. Countless advantaged are the result of this dialogue – students and administration profit even in times of constant competition among universities. For this reason, VSETH and its student associations is the ideal counterpart for students with improvement suggestions or structural and organisational problems in the field of higher education.
What moved the students
In the course of 2012, the 150th anniversary of the VSETH, a book has been published. It is available at the secretary of the association.