Opern letter for a creative, neutral, solidary summer term 2020 at Bauhaus-University

Dear fel­low stu­dents,

you can sup­port our demands (below) for a cre­ative, sol­i­dar­i­ty, neu­tral sum­mer term 2020 as writ­ten in an open let­ter to the pres­i­dent of Bauhaus-Uni­ver­si­ty Prof. Dr. Speitkamp,»> by co-sign­ing on this pad.

Take care, Pol.B

»> more infor­ma­tion on sol­i­dar­i­ty term on a fed­er­al lev­el and info for finan­cial aids, you can find some here.

Open let­ter for a cre­ative, sol­idary, neu­tral sum­mer term 2020!

7th of april, 2020

Dear Prof. Dr. Speitkamp,

in view of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, we are in a state of emer­gency for the soci­ety as a whole, how­ev­er there are legal, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic con­di­tions that specif­i­cal­ly affect stu­dents, and just like our real­i­ties of life, acute prob­lems for stu­dents are very diverse.

In your announce­ments to date, we have so far missed a more sen­si­tive han­dling of spe­cial con­cerns and prob­lems of the stu­dents at the Bauhaus-Uni­ver­sität Weimar and­want to answer here­by to your appeal “now more than ever”.

Since the Con­fer­ence of Min­is­ters of Edu­ca­tion, it has been clear that the sum­mer semes­ter will take place. How­ev­er, the announced clear guide­lines have not yet been worked out, and we would like to take stu­dent inter­ests into account and clear­ly avoid dis­ad­van­tages for our aca­d­e­m­ic edu­ca­tion. In our view, this would be guar­an­teed by a cre­ative, sol­idary, neu­tral semes­ter at fed­er­al lev­el. Those who can and want to take part in dig­i­tal stud­ies, who can and want to write the­ses, who have the finances and infra­struc­ture nec­es­sary for their stud­ies should not be dis­ad­van­taged in any way. How­ev­er, for those with­out these pos­si­bil­i­ties, the reg­u­la­tions that are still in force should not result in any fur­ther dis­ad­van­tage. We need a solu­tion with­out bureau­crat­ic effort and indi­vid­ual case checks or con­trols.

We advo­cate for a cre­ative, sol­idary, neu­tral semes­ter, as pro­posed by an alliance of Ger­man stu­dent asso­ci­a­tions:https://solidarsemester.de/

This must be linked to cer­tain legal­ly secured frame­work con­di­tions in order to give thes­tu­dents at least a lit­tle secu­ri­ty as soon as pos­si­ble. We also refer to col­lat­er­al reper­cus­sions for for­eign stu­dents who are not flown back by their home coun­tries in this sit­u­a­tion. Any help from the gov­ern­ment will not work to the same extent as it does for Ger­man cit­i­zens. They came here at the invi­ta­tion of the uni­ver­si­ty, which is why we must be par­tic­u­lar­ly com­mit­ted to them in this situation.These demands must be car­ried by the heads of uni­ver­si­ties to the respec­tive state and fed­er­al min­istries. We ask you to show sol­i­dar­i­ty with stu­dents and pre­car­i­ous employ­ees at your insti­tu­tion and active­ly sup­port their demands. We would fur­ther like to ask you to make a spe­cial effort for a solu­tion at fed­er­al and state lev­el in order to achieve uni­form and fair con­di­tions in Thuringia and Ger­many.

In order to under­line our con­cern, we would like to explain in more detail which spe­cial­si­t­u­a­tions stu­dents are cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing.

1. Finan­cial uncer­tain­ty

- Two thirds of the nation­al and inter­na­tion­al stu­dents work in addi­tion to their stud­ies; most of them in pre­car­i­ous mini or midi jobs that are cur­rent­ly mas­sive­ly break­ing away. They are not con­sid­ered by emer­gency gov­ern­ment aid because of their stu­dent sta­tus, and many are cur­rent­ly in a seri­ous emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.

- The income of many stu­dents is below the offi­cial line of pover­ty and they there­fore can not apply for hous­ing allowance. 

- Many par­ents are also no longer able to meet their main­te­nance oblig­a­tions due to loss of income.

- Rental debts are not released by the pos­si­bil­i­ty of defer­ral, but accu­mu­lat­ing.

- Inter­na­tion­als, who now have to take care of the exten­sion of their visas, run into prob­lems: The 10,000 euros that have to be pre­sent­ed for a visa are cur­rent­ly often used up to make up for job loss, or infla­tion in the home coun­try deval­u­ates the sav­ings.- Stu­dents with chil­dren have to take care of them and may no longer be able to work, let alone study.

2. Health inse­cu­ri­ty

- Younger stu­dents can also be part of the risk group and may be more reluc­tant to go back to the work­shops or facil­i­ties imme­di­ate­ly if they are reopened.

- Stu­dents and their friends and fam­i­ly will fall ill them­selves; as well as become car­ri­ers for the virus.

- The psy­cho­log­i­cal bur­den is high: for many stu­dents it is the first cri­sis that they are con­scious­ly expe­ri­enc­ing; for inter­na­tion­als who have tak­en out loans and who are “trapped” in Ger­many with­out being able to fly to their home coun­tries, let alone be flown out by their gov­ern­ments, the psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure is enor­mous.

- In addi­tion, stu­dents most­ly live in shared apart­ments or dor­mi­to­ries with many peo­ple in a con­fined space — also with peo­ple who work in the health sys­tem or pro­fes­sions rel­e­vant to the sys­tem and who are par­tic­u­lar­ly at risk of infec­tion / are in quar­an­tine / belong to the risk group — this increas­es feel­ings of inse­cu­ri­ty.

3. Dig­i­tal teach­ing

- Trans­fer­ing face-to-face teach­ing with­out cor­re­spond­ing con­cepts into the dig­i­tal world does not make sense ped­a­gog­i­cal­ly.

- Stu­dents and pro­fes­sors still have to learn dig­i­tal skills — is this pos­si­ble in this short­ened semes­ter? How long would it take for the know-how to be avail­able?

- Are the pro­grams secure and data pro­tec­tion reli­able?

- What hap­pens if the efforts fail and stu­dents give up their online stud­ies?

- Work­shops and work spaces can­not be dig­i­tal­ized.

- Offer­ing free projects in iso­la­tion can only be a solu­tion if addi­tion­al free projects are­made pos­si­ble in reg­u­lar semes­ters in order to give stu­dents the chance to car­ry out their free projects even under more nor­mal cir­cum­stances.

- Many stu­dents do not have the means to orga­nize their stud­ies at home: This main­ly con­cerns space, mate­ri­als, devices, pro­grams, machines and tools that are locat­ed in the closed stu­dios and work­shops of the uni­ver­si­ty. Like­wise, not all stu­dents have their own com­put­ers and (sta­ble) inter­net. Thus equiv­a­lent work­ing can­not be assured.

4. Reg­u­la­tions of the bach­e­lor and mas­ter sys­tem

- If stu­dents have already tak­en two semes­ters of vaca­tion, they can­not take a third semes­ter of vaca­tion.

- Long-term tuition fees threat­en if the semes­ter is “count­ed” reg­u­lar­ly, with­out all stu­dents being able to par­tic­i­pate.

- There could be cur­ric­u­lar recog­ni­tion for activ­i­ties in the course of the Coro­na cri­sis (vol­un­teer­ing, sup­port, etc.).

With­out the reg­u­la­tion of a stan­dard peri­od of study and the con­se­quences of their vio­la­tions with finan­cial impli­ca­tions, a dig­i­tal semes­ter would be a pos­si­ble solu­tion for everyone:those who can and want to par­tic­i­pate and those who, for var­i­ous rea­sons, will not be able to. If it weren’t for this stan­dard­iza­tion of stud­ies, we would sim­ply wel­come it to push ahead with the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the uni­ver­si­ty.

Even if the sum­mer semes­ter 2020 would not appear as a reg­u­lar semes­ter in cer­tifi­cates, course of stud­ies, etc., points that stu­dents receive for dig­i­tal learn­ing  could be tak­en into account in the next semes­ter, since there is no max­i­mum val­ue for cred­itable ECTS with­in one semes­ter. To grade prac­ti­cal works is high­ly prob­lem­at­ic due to the dif­fer­ent access to means, as stat­ed above.

We need legal pro­tec­tion against even big­ger long-term dis­ad­van­tages: Due to the above-men­tioned impair­ments due to addi­tion­al bur­dens, the lack of access to uni­ver­si­ty infra­struc­ture, and the result­ing inequal­i­ties in terms of oppor­tu­ni­ties to study at home, the semes­ter on our study cer­tifi­cates should not be offi­cial­ly eval­u­at­ed as either a sub­ject or vaca­tion semes­ter for us stu­dents to ensure the great­est pos­si­ble flex­i­bil­i­ty on the way to the acqui­si­tion of our degrees in view of the spe­cif­ic struc­tur­al chal­lenges. A course of study is not com­plet­ed after a cer­tain num­ber of semes­ters, but after acqui­si­tion of the required cred­it points and a the­sis. There­fore, it will still be pos­si­ble for stu­dents who are able to do so under the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and who want to earn ECTS or sub­mit a the­sis with­out any dis­ad­van­tages. ECTS can be count­ed towards pre­vi­ous or sub­se­quent semes­ters and final the­ses can also be com­plet­ed with the sup­port of the super­vi­sor.

Due to the finan­cial sit­u­a­tion, it is fore­see­able that stu­dents will have to drop out of their stud­ies — how­ev­er, these num­bers could pos­si­bly be reduced with legal pro­tec­tio­nand sol­i­dar­i­ty on behalf of the uni­ver­si­ties. 

Finan­cial aid from the gov­ern­ment is just asim­por­tant, which would at least con­tin­ue to ensure some sta­bil­i­ty for those whose par­ents’ sup­port, their inde­pen­dent work or pre­car­i­ous jobs have bro­ken down. Since most stu­dents live below the offi­cial pover­ty line any­way, it would be the least toguar­an­tee basic ser­vices so as not to risk the loss of an aca­d­e­m­ic gen­er­a­tion.

Min­istries and uni­ver­si­ties should do their best so that those who are strug­gling most to study are not the first to leave uni­ver­si­ties.

We expect you to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for the stu­dent body at your insti­tu­tion and to show sol­i­dar­i­ty for your stu­dents and their inter­ests. Above all in the legal area, i.e. advo­cate for pro­tec­tion against dis­ad­van­tages from the stan­dard­iza­tion of the study sys­tem, and pro­vide urgent sup­port for inter­na­tion­al stu­dents in finan­cial and visa mat­ters. 

We hope for your sup­port for a cre­ative, sol­i­dary, neu­tral term and send our best regards.

Pol.B

Depart­ment for Polit­i­cal Edu­ca­tion

des Studieren­denkon­vent der Bauhaus-Uni­ver­sität Weimar

Co-signed by:

Studieren­denkon­vent der Bauhaus-Uni­ver­sität Weimar

Depart­ment Bauhaus Inter­na­tion­als

Depart­ment Queer YMR

Ini­tia­tiv­en des StuKo:

Der Laden Weimar e.V.

Maschi­nen­raum

EJECT — Zeitschrift für Medi­enkul­tur

marke.6

Raum­sta­tion

Fach­schaft­srat Kun­st und Gestal­tung