In spring we wrote an open letter to the presidium after the presidential proclamation of the “now more than ever!” Semester. In this, we wanted to convey to the university management facets of the realities of life of students during the first restrictions caused by the pandemic.
In addition, like student organizations throughout Germany, we advocated for a solidary approach to the crisis. We asked the Presidium to stand up for the students most affected by the situation in the relevant university-politics bodies in Thuringia and possibly nationwide.
First and foremost, for quick help and support for socially and economically weaker students to alleviate financial hardship — with special consideration for international students and their special legal situation as non-citizens.
Furthermore, we advocated with students throughout Germany for a suspension of the regularity of studies in view of the exceptional situation. So a suspension of the counting of the summer semester as a normal semester with the specified number of study semesters and the associated consequences such as loss of student loans and long-term study fees.
In order to underline these concerns in their urgency and to involve students in these university-politics processes that affect them, we invited them to co-sign the letter. 200 students joined the demands.
We stayed in conversation with the student union StuKo and the presidium.
Lecturers, students and trade unions from all federal states spoke up in the public discourse. It is also thanks to the great pressure on the local level and in social networks that the Federal Ministry finally started a financial emergency package for students in a precarious financial situation.
At the Bauhaus University, a fund was also set up by the Freundeskreis. For both funds, however, students had to provide precise evidence of their financial need — a major hurdle for people who had existential worries during these months. At least there were special offers of help for internationals at our university — we had also drawn attention to the special situation of those students who were unable to return to their countries of origin in this global crisis and whose financial and legal situation was particularly uncertain.
The Corona crisis has painfully exposed global and social inequalities. It also became apparent how constructed and wo*man-made, how changeable and open our social institutions are, and how quickly public life, laws and regularities can be reshaped with the appropriate will. Especially in the first phase of uncertainty from March to May 2020, it became clear at different levels which interests and values political and public, private and economic institutions acted on. Many people also became more aware of what they expect from these institutions and what responsibility they bear.
The “solidarity semester” called for by so many and by us should appeal to the responsibility of a university landscape that we want to understand as a public place, committed to free teaching and research in unity and artistic freedom, as an openly accessible and non-discriminatory place.
This ideal form of the universities positions itself in contrast to the “entrepreneurial” university, independent of economic interests and job market-related training of uniform graduates. University policy can also be shaped by student representatives, or the educational strikes in 2009, given the introduction of tuition fees, showed that the majority of students also have political power.
The entire catalog of demands of the “solidarity semester” would have required a strong university policy commitment to a university ideal beyond the “entrepreneurial”.
“Solidarity” does not mean following the needs of a strong majority and meeting the needs of a weak minority with charity. Solidarity means securing the whole, trying to compensate for the disadvantages of people who are in whatever way not equal. Solidarity ensures a hurdle-free right to support without exposing people in need. Solidarity sometimes also means renouncing one’s own privileges in order to enable other people to participate equally.
If the demands of the “solidarity semester” had been implemented, not a single student would have suffered a disadvantage or forfeited privileges. Had a broad mass of students shown solidarity with the less privileged students in spring 2020, the demands might have been implemented.
And last but not least, if solidarity, justice and equality in access to education were in the interests of the universities and their presidia, the demands would have been heard louder in front of the state ministries and in the federal government. “Solidarity for an open society”  at the Bauhaus University would then not be just lip service.
As, for example, the head of the aid organization medico Thomas Gebauer says “Solidarity demands social institutions that ensure balance and participation and thus a dignified human coexistence. […] Solidarity is much more than the feeling of inner connection. Solidarity stands for the obligation of everyone to stand up for the whole. ” 
In other federal states and at other universities, demands of the solidarity semester, for example not counting as a subject semester, have been implemented, while the “now more than ever” semester started in Weimar.
Only now do we manage to draw a line in between. Only in a few years will we all be able to classify the long-term effects of the decisions made in spring 2020.
Who and how many had to leave the universities? In the current situation, who and how many do not even start studying if they can only cope with precarious and insecure working conditions and without social security? Who and how many will find themselves in financial distress in the future due to student loans taken out privately, on banks or by the state as a result of the crisis?
How much will education and research be worth to politics in the next few years? How many courses and positions will be canceled, how many laboratories will be closed, how many locations will be endangered? What value will art and culture have? How strongly will the universities position themselves as “entrepreneurial”? How do we want to study and teach, how do we want to live together as a society? How do we deal with these open wounds of inequality, which we can hardly ignore due to the corona pandemic?
The nationwide “Solidarity Semester” initiative made these questions public. Students were made aware of inequalities among one another and economic and social inequalities; and some students to perceive the university as a public, political space in which to speak out. At the same time, the situation has revealed that the understanding of solidarity concepts at universities could be strengthened in the long term, and that students should become more aware of their political power.
The consequences of spring 2020 and the following months will only become apparent over the next few years. It can be assumed that the inequality we perceive today more than ever will not go away through inaction. As long as all those involved in the university system do not see themselves as a solidary unit that is ready to stand up for open, free science, art, research and teaching, it is doubtful that these ideals can be upheld.
As long as the universities do not exemplify “solidarity” as an active concept in the education of their graduates as an institution and convey it in this way, it is also doubtful that our and the following generations are resilient to the economic, financial, health and economic sectors be able to face climate crises.