by Oli Klaus
From organising huge events like the Erstsemestrigen Fest (ESF) and enabling our 18 committees to do their work, to printing the very Polykum you are reading right now, everything VSETH spends money on needs to be planned ahead of time in our budget. This budget, which includes over three million Swiss francs in both expenses and revenue, is decided upon by the highest body of VSETH, the Delegates’ Council (DE: Mitgliederrat, MR), each autumn semester for the coming year.
The legislative structure of VSETH is based – like many democracies – on a two-chamber system. In this, the MR is the larger chamber where all Student Associations (DE: Fachvereine) have seats (and therefore votes) in proportion to the number of students (or more precisely VSETH members) in each Fachverein, with a minimum of three seats. There are further seats for the aforementioned committees and also for our employees.
The VSETH budget
This MR met again in mid-November with the main point of business to determine the VSETH budget for the year 2023. The VSETH budget covers lots of different things. For example, it includes all expenses (and incomes) directly caused by the executive board, such as Nik’s Hütte, which ended last weekend and was organised by our Projektis, and the Ersti-Bags, which are organised by Communications (me). All the expenses of our 18 committees and various administrative tasks also have their place in the budget. At first glance, the largest expenses are salaries. However, this includes not just the salaries for our employees in the AVES (Allgemeines VErbandsSekretariat), but for instance also all the salaries for PVK (Prüfungsvorbereitungskurse) TAs, as the entire PVK-related cash flow goes through VSETH; even though these courses are organised by the Fachvereine. Our single biggest source of income is, quite clearly, through you and your membership fees. The just over one million Swiss francs play a central role in allowing us to provide the various services available to you and everything happening quietly in the background. During the discussion regarding the cost centre for the whole Verband we gained an interesting insight into how the pandemic was visible in the change in revenue through membership. As fewer high school graduates took a gap year during the pandemic, the student numbers and consequently the membership fees showed an artificial increase in 2020 and 2021, which is now vanishing.
Live at the MR
The MR started – as usual – pleasantly with tasty sandwiches, which are traditionally provided by our PapperlaPub (a student-run pub in CAB) to all delegates and guests. After breezing through the – more or less – formalities in the beginning, the MR had two other points of business before actually reaching the budget: The half-annual reports of the former executive board shone a spotlight on some crass problems regarding the immense workload and stress in VSETH. And all our committees needed to get the MR’s approval for another year.
With this we arrived at the namesake of the Budget MR: the VSETH budget. Besides the regularly budgeted expenses and revenues, VSETH also has a number of Töpfe that allow it to accommodate unforeseen project-related expenses during a year, and which also need to be determined by the MR. The VSETH board for example has the Vorstandsprojektetopf out of which we can give budget to organisations to finance projects which the board supports. The further budget is divided into cost centres (DE: Kostenstellen) and the ones larger than 100 000 Swiss francs had to be approved individually by the MR. This includes the following committees: Challenge, ETH MUN, F&C (Polymesse), KI (Committee for Real Estate), Polykum, PapperlaPub and Tanzquotient. Luckily, this did not take long.
Behind the Scenes
Obviously, such a large budget is not created and determined in a single meeting during a single evening. VSETH has its financial consulting board (DE: Finanz Ausschuss, FinA), which has been working on the budget in the weeks and months leading up to the MR. They met up with each cost centre responsible to plan the budget and check any irregularities. Without this thorough preparation, there would be no chance to approve such a budget in a single night.
After going through the individual large cost centres, the MR voted on accepting the budget as a whole. The MR-presidency cheerfully exclaimed, “We have a budget for the next year!” and with that, all the hundreds of actives in VSETH can plan the coming year with budget as planned. The budget was followed by a few additional points of business and the MR was over earlier than expected and all the delegates could head down to PapperlaPub for a well-deserved drink. But don’t be afraid, the post-MR drink is of course budgeted for.
If you are ever interested in attending an MR yourself and participate directly in changes at your Student Union, contact your Fachverein!
Oli Klaus, 24,
MSc. in Chemistry, has been to quite a
few MR without actually being a HoPo.