How should a student build connections

Student associations in Germany

Most can probably imagine something under a fraternity. A Community of fraternity students, who throws parties, lives together in a fraternity house and maintains traditions. Many may also think of various Hollywood films about the college with fraternities and sororities. One can say so much: With German connections they have at most the origin in common. We therefore explain what the student associations actually mean today with “Kneipschwanz”, “Fux” or “Mensur”.

German student associations

Most of the student associations in Germany today are organized in associations. This is only logical, as many connections can be found in multiple locations and maintain partnerships. A total of 30 corporate associationsis there. These include the umbrella organizations Convent German Corporations Associations (CDK), Convent German Academic Associations (CDA) or the Christian European Cartel Association (EKV). The Catholic alliances are considered to be particularly influential. They operate far beyond Germany and network across Europe.

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In Germany alone there is around 1,000 different types of student associations. About 1% of all students are part of this. Many of them are located in Munich, Berlin, Bonn, Göttingen and Aachen. How the respective association aligns itself can vary widely. In most cases, however, the fraternity members are rather conservative. To date, around 85% of the associations are only accessible to men.

Special terms in a fraternity

Fraternity: Under the general term of a student union one understands an association of active or former students. This maintains it special customs or traditionsthat have grown over time. However, there is only few features that all connections have in common. Two of the principles that can be found in almost every fraternity are the Convent Principle and the Life Covenant Principle.

Convention principle: Student associations work on a grassroots basis. A board of directors is elected every semester (usually 4 to 5 members), but in case of doubt it can be removed quickly.

Life covenant principle: Once a member, always a member. Anyone who joins a fraternity swears an oath and is a lifelong member. Leaving the connection for whatever reason is possible, although not common. Those who finish their studies and enter professional life remain a member of the fraternity or women's association as an elderly gentleman or high lady.

Old gentleman / high lady / philistine: The old gentlemen or high ladies (also called Philistines) usually no longer actively participate in the “normal” fraternity life, but finance the fraternities, corps and women's fraternities as well as their fraternity houses through monthly contributions.

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Conkneipant / Kneipschwanz: Describes a member who for certain reasons is actually not allowed to be included in the connection. This includes, for example, non-students who are "tolerated" on the basis of special merits.

Color: This means the colors of a fraternity. A distinction is made between color-bearing and color-bearing connections. Colored means that the members wear clothing in the colors of the association, usually a ribbon and a cap. Color-bearing connections do not wear their colors with clothing, but in certain couleur objects such as the so-called lobes or in coats of arms and on flags. There are also black fraternities that neither wear nor use colors.

Fux / fox: The Fux is a new member of a connection. He is in a kind of probationary period for one to three semesters. He has reduced rights, but also obligations and has to deal with the history and culture of his connection. For the transition to a full member he has to take the fox or boy test.

Pub / Kommers: A pub is a student party with a fixed schedule, where songs are sung, speeches are given and beer (sometimes wine) is consumed. Kommers is the festive, "official" type of pub. It takes place at foundation festivals (which celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the association) or university anniversaries. A keynote address will be given by a famous participant who does not necessarily have to be a member of the association.

Scale length: This describes academic fencing, an integral part of the life of the association in fraternities, corps and co. However, only in beating connections (in contrast to non-beating connections) and here, too, in most cases it is no longer an obligation, but voluntary.

Goof: The Schmiss describes a scar that was inflicted in the length of the fencing and is often considered a status symbol among fraternity students. This sign of membership in a fraternity or corps is less common today than it used to be.

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Advantages of a student union: Living close together and socializing

One of the advantages of a student union is that you have a first point of contact here. Especially if you are new to a city it can help to get to know new people quickly. Since the members in a student union usually identify strongly with it, an active union life is usually the case.

In addition, you can potentially pursue your interests here. For example, there are also connections that have a particular sporting, musical or academic background. As a result, you will of course also find more like-minded people here.

Another very practical reason to join a fraternity is room rates. Many of the traditional houses can lure with a cheap rent. Because the old members often support the accommodations, you have a very comfortable life in many cases. Sometimes there are cleaning staff or cooking staff in a student union. Of course, this also saves additional stress in a shared apartment.

The former members are also often still involved in the associations. This can either be purely financially or through various events. You can not only learn from their experiences, but also get insights beyond student life.

Contact with current or former members is the main reason for many to join a student union
. In addition to personal interests, this offers the opportunity to greatly expand your network. For example, you can also benefit from the contacts from your student union in your later professional life.

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Disadvantages of a student union: Limited individuality and obligations

An important point in evaluating a fraternity is that the coexistence goes through many rulesexcels. As a result, your own needs or individual convictions may not be given space.

This includes, for example, that in contrast to living in a shared apartment, there are clear hierarchies. The long-established board members sometimes have more rights than newcomers. Therefore, especially in the time of the foxes, you have to bow to them.

Participation in events and celebrations is also specified in some student associations. Wearing the uniform and representing the association are also among your potential duties here. Community activities take precedence over other things. The mere presence is only part of your duties. Organizing, entertaining guests and holding other offices must also be carried out.

When joining a student union, it is also necessary that the scale length is mandatory. This means that in addition to your obligations, you run the risk of injuring yourself. The possible Scar doesn't just shape you for life, but also irrevocably shows to the outside world that you belong to a student association.

Also, you should keep in mind that you are very a lot of time and energy have to be in a fraternity. This may eliminate the need for contact with people outside of these groups. So your horizon remains limited to a certain extent. In addition, you are expected to commit yourself for the rest of your life, especially financially.

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Cause for criticism?

Connections always have to put up with criticism that has nothing to do with actual university life, as their political and social influence is far less pronounced in Germany than in the USA, for example.

An often mentioned point of criticism is "Misogyny". Since the men's associations are committed to tradition, the overwhelming majority still do not allow women (except for celebrations), which is often justified with history: The first student associations were founded in the late 18th century, at a time when Women were not even allowed to study. That is of course long out of date today. The criticism has also decreased, as the number of "mixed" connections is increasing and women-only connections have become more and more common, especially since the turn of the millennium. Incidentally, these generally do not allow male members.

Another allegation relates to that Forming a rope team. Connections "advertise" with the fact that you are already establishing contacts for life during your studies, that you are well networked with the economy through old men in influential positions and in the umbrella organizations. What sounds good to the young student is viewed critically: nepotism is often accused and is particularly problematic when “vitamin B” takes precedence over qualifications.

The main point of criticism, which is often used to generalize all connections, is xenophobia and right-wing radicalism. The fact is: Yes, there are isolated connections (especially in the area of ​​fraternities that are politically active) that have attracted attention with xenophobia and explicitly right-wing extremist tendencies. However, there are between 1500 and 2200 student associations in Germany they are the minority among them (but which often attracts the most attention).

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Student fraternities are a way of To socializeand to make friends, especially in a strange city. And they're a great way to get a cheap room. But that shouldn't be the only reason to join a connection. Those who are considering it should be aware that Tradition, conservatism and fixed rules are part of it.

Image source for cover picture: Many thanks to Efraim's daughter for the cover picture (© Efraim's daughter /

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