In Flanders, student societies play a unique role in student life. Student societies there have traditionally been politically active, and they played a significant part in the 1960s division of the Catholic University of Leuven into separate Flemish and Walloon universities.
A student society in Flanders is led by a praesidium. The head of the praesidium (and the society) is the praeses. Alternative spellings are presidium and preses. For most positions, Dutch names are used nowadays.
Other positions include:
Vice-praeses: assists the praeses where needed.
Quaestor: takes care of the money.
Ab-actis: the secretary of the student organisation.
Cantor: Leads the cantus.
Vertor: Organises cultural activities.
Scriptor: Is responsible for creating a magazine.
Bacchus: Makes sure there is enough beer.
Dominus morum: Is responsible for keeping order at a cantus.
Positions are flexible, and change to meet the needs of the student organisation.
Student societies used to be politically engaged, but are now more focused on organizing parties, cantus, and cultural activities.
Student societies also exist at polytechnics.
New members go through an initiation ritual before becoming full members of a Flemish student society. A new member is called schacht and has to undergo a baptism. The baptism is the first step to integration in the student society. The next (and last) step to becoming a full-fledged member is the ontgroening. After the ontgroening, one becomes a normal member or commilito of the organization, and can join the praesidium if one so chooses. Normal members are also referred to as anciens.
See also: Education in Belgium
In Wallonia and Brussels, several types of francophone student societies exist:
A cercle regroup students from the same faculty
A regionale regroup students coming from the same location An ordre regroup students around some aspects of the student folklore or traditions
These societies sometimes have traditions dating back a hundred years, such as wearing one of the two traditional student hats: the Penne or the Calotte. Their main activity is organising and attending parties or festivals (for example, the 24 hours bike ride of Louvain-la-Neuve or the St V). See also: Student folklore in Belgium (French Wikipedia)
The Alma Mater Society at Queen's University is the oldest such organization in Canada, and currently the most extensive in regard to student involvement. It is currently a multi-million corporation employing over 500 students. The day-to-day operations of the AMS are overseen by the AMS Council which includes an annually elected three-person executive (the President, Vice-President (Operations) and Vice-President (University Affairs), selected as a slate), five commissioners who are each responsible for a specific aspect of student life, and three directors who are responsible for overseeing the AMS’ 14 corporate services.
Poly-World is a student committee based in the engineering school, École Polytechnique de Montréal, set up to organize overseas missions to enable students to gain knowledge of business processes, competitiveness and innovation. European-wide
In Europe, there are several continent-wide student organisations fostering exchange among students of different nationalities and Culture, such as
AEGEE (European Students Forum), trying to spread the European Idea AIESEC (worldwide student organisation)
ESTIEM (European student organisation)
BEST (European student organisation)
IAESTE (worldwide student organisation)
JEF Young European Federalists - a pan-European network promoting the idea of European Integration ESN (Erasmus Student Network), promoting student mobility in Europe and beyond; present in over 200 universities / 28 countries; 35.000 member (by 04.2006)...