When students visit orientation at Virginia Tech, they are exposed to the many facets of campus life (even staying one night in a dorm room) while the academic component, such as registering for classes, is a little less memorable…
In Switzerland, there is little to no concept of “campus life.” Lenardo told us, “University education is to study—and that is it.” There are no official university social or athletic organizations—some student groups will form and die, but there is no faculty involvement. Swiss students generally live either at home or in apartments, and will often commute back to their home canton on the weekends.
Swiss Student Unions
Our group visited the headquarters of the federal student union (Verbands der Schweizer Studierendenschaften) in Bern, where we met with a member of the executive board, Clau Dermont.
At the office, not only were there university level students, but apparently middle school students have their own operations as well. Within Switzerland, there are twelve regional student unions. These smaller student unions mobilize independently, attempting to provide input to Swiss universities (although there is no requirement that a university must interact with a student union).
Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, the Federal Swiss Student Union is part of the European Student Union (ESU). Dermont described how, at ESU meetings, the Swiss and other Western European students’ idea of student representation often conflicts with the Eastern European students’ more conservative (“dictator”) mentality.