30 Mar

TU Student Union Statement on #unizu #nichtnuronline and Co

In the course of the recent easing of lockdown restrictions, initiatives such as #nichtnuronline called for a (partial) opening of the universities. The AStA has been contacted by individuals and initiatives and asked to support these and similar demands. However, supporting reopening initiatives while infections continue to rise and vaccines for students are nowhere in sight presents a moral dilemma.

Urgent Need to Address Student Concerns

We the students of TU suffer from the closed university and general lack of strategy in dealing with the pandemic. We understand and empathize with the needs and concerns of our fellow students and as members of the student union we continue to support student struggles.

We have been in a university lockdown for more than a year. Many freshmen have never seen their university from the inside. We have achieved a high degree of flexibility that was expected of us when switching to alternative learning formats. Most of us have isolated ourselves out of solidarity and consideration for the vulnerable, sacrificing an extremely important and formative year of our lives.

Complete & Utter Lack of Solutions

At the same time, there has been an entire lack of communication at the political level how representatives are working to make our isolation easier. The focus of problem solving that has taken place has been on provision of the learning material and the examination at the end of the semester. This has transformed student existence into a mere transaction. The  university is a space in which people network, maintain social contacts, and organize themselves politically; a space that students have been fighting for years to make studying more than studid memorization. This has been completely ignored in the pandemic: There is a lack of effort, structure, and space to maintain academic life. We are at wits end and cannot imagine continuing like this. 

Last but not least, thanks to our know-how TU Berlin has started test projects that sound out the framework conditions for a partial opening of the university’s social and learning space. Current TU research efforts indicate massive aerosol dispersion in public transport vehicles.

We absolutely understand and share the frustration that would lead some students to demand a reopening, however we are convinced that a demand for opening is currently counterproductive. Not because we agree with a nonexistent vaccination concept, or because we want to protect an economy that does not manage to produce enough vaccines and that successfully defends itself against any interference with its business model, but because we consider an opening in light of the current pandemic situation to be dangerous for student and worker health.

Strategies & Steps for the City Government

The Berlin body politic must formulate strategies and regulations for safe teaching ASAP, which the universities must implement. It makes sense to take the safest path at an early stage and to communicate a legal framework that defines the permissible student performance requirements and reduces the already unbearable pressure on student´s shoulders to continue as if there wasn´t a global pandemic burning outside.  Instead of dealing with worries and fears with social strategies, everything is done at the federal level to maintain economic performance without regard to the workers & students who suffer through the pandemic. The problems of our increasingly unequal class system have exponentially increased due to Covid 19. A strategy of waiting and observing leaves us all exhausted & uncertain, since it gives the impression that no work is being carried out on what should have been obvious pandemic related problems.

Most of the student demands in the petitions about university openings relate to areas in which the student representatives at state level have been working on finding solutions for students in the crisis teams and in discussions with politicians since the beginning of the pandemic. At the state level, demands for a binding regulation for online exams have already been poured into a legal framework [1], initial commitments have been made for planning the summer semester [2] and the lack of psychological advice due to an increase in the state subsidy for the StuWerk Berlin adds. In addition, as student representatives, we are constantly working on ways to help you, as a student, in this emergency situation, and we are constantly adapting the information on our website so that you can always keep yourself informed outside of the consultation hours [3].

Responsibilities of the University

We see the universities as responsible for introducing clear strategies for the next online semester, which are binding and take into account the worries and fears of all members of the universities. The university can also provide students with opportunities and access to rooms and resources that enable them to network beyond the lecture hours. Contact with fellow students, which enables both the exchange of learning content and a social community that significantly supports the course, must not end with the launch of the zoom call. Furthermore, we call on the universities to inform their teachers about their strategies and to react accordingly & consistently if they disregard the measures to contain the infection.

Student Self-Organization

We would like to emphasize that we as students play a critical role shaping university life. Clearly the old tried & true structures which were fought for on campus through, in some cases, decades of student battles must be examined & expanded. Student rooms, entrances, resources and participation were not given to us, they were demanded. The digital university space has yet to be fought for, so show solidarity with one another and think about support & solidarity strategies. If we can’t talk in the corridors after the seminar, then let us create “corridors”  whether digitally or responsibly face-2-face. Call on your universities to provide you with appropriate online tools that can be used autonomously and not only ensure the passive consumption of learning content. Ask your lecturers to support you in this and, for example, to leave virtual seminar rooms open longer so that you can network and exchange ideas.

Call on your universities to provide you with appropriate online tools that can be used autonomously and ensure more than the passive consumption of learning content. Some departmental initiatives are already doing a great job and making a lot of digital infrastructure available. [4]

Find out about your rights to exam and performance formats and requirements. Inform your student representatives about misconduct, discrimination and structural hurdles and generally keep yourself up to date.

Students of the world unite! Get informed and show solidarity!

[1] Kleine BerlHG-Novelle: Paragraf 126a

[2] Information from the Senator for Science and Research on

Summer semester 2021: https://www.berlin.de/sen/wissenschaft/aktuelles/news/2020/artikel.908920.php#Sommersemester

[3] Krach Zusage StuWerk Subventionierung , https://asta.tu-berlin.de/bafoeg-und-sozialberatung/corona-folgen-studienfinanzierung/

[4] If you don’t know your student body initiative yet, here is an overview of department initiatives and other student groups: https://asta.tu-berlin.de/inis-cafes/