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.
Department for Political Education
des Studierendenkonvent der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
Studierendenkonvent der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
Department Bauhaus Internationals
Department Queer YMR
Initiativen des StuKo:
Der Laden Weimar e.V.
EJECT — Zeitschrift für Medienkultur
Fachschaftsrat Kunst und Gestaltung