Overwhelming support for student initiative to establish a central anti-discrimination counseling center: Important milestone in the fight against discrimination at the University of Göttingen

More than 1,000 students at the University of Göttingen have thrown their support behind the call for the establishment of a central anti-discrimination counseling center. This is the first successful student initiative at the University of Göttingen.

AStA Chairperson Ann-Julie Blume commented: “The student initiative to establish a central anti-discrimination counseling center marks a significant milestone in the fight against discrimination at our university. With over 1000 signatures, our students have made it clear that they strive for an inclusive and equitable university community where no one is disadvantaged because of experiences of discrimination.”

She continues, “Protection against discrimination is of immense importance at a renowned university like the University of Göttingen. As an internationally oriented educational institution, we attract students from different cultures and backgrounds. It is therefore of great importance that we create an environment that is free of discrimination and prejudice. By establishing a central anti-discrimination counseling center, we are sending a clear signal that we are committed to equality, diversity and respect, actively fighting discrimination to create an inclusive atmosphere where all students can feel equally welcome and supported.”

The initiative will be officially discussed during the upcoming senate meeting on Wednesday, July 12. In addition to the student initiative, the discussion will also focus on the Discrimination Protection Concept, which the Student Parliament positioned itself against in a resolution at the end of May, as it felt that the proposed concept did not address the necessary need for an anti-discrimination counselling office and comprehensive measures to improve discrimination protection for students and other university members. The discussion on the Discrimination Protection Concept provides a unique opportunity for the senate to take students’ concerns seriously and take a decisive step toward comprehensive discrimination protections.

By actively opposing discrimination, we strengthen not only students, but also our university’s reputation as a cosmopolitan and progressive educational institution. We invite all members of the university community to join our cause and work together to improve discrimination protections at the University of Göttingen and create an environment where every person can reach their full potential. Together, we can effect positive change and shape a university based on equality and respect.

From October 2017 to August 2021, the pilot project “Antidiscrimination Counseling for Students” was implemented at the university. The project was funded by central study quality funds and aimed to support students in the context of discrimination. During the project period, students who were confronted with experiences of discrimination could access a specially trained counseling center. There they received support, advice and guidance in overcoming discrimination-related challenges in the university environment. The pilot project helped raise awareness of the issue of discrimination and focus on the needs of affected students. Despite full utilization and a positive evaluation, funding for the pilot project was not continued after 2021. This led to protests and resentment from students who advocated for continued anti-discrimination counseling at the university.
The experiences and feedback from the pilot project were an important impetus for the further development of the anti-discrimination concept at the university. However, the development of the concept on the part of the Presidential Board was only tackled in the fall of 2022 after a long delay and empty promises. The student body views this delay as critical, as the proposed concept does not promise any noticeable improvement for the practical implementation of discrimination protection. Instead, reference is made to the development of a directive, the drafting of which could drag on for months or even years. In light of the significant increase in reported incidents of discrimination to the AStA and student representatives in recent months, the student body believes there is an urgent need for a more rapid improvement in the counseling services offered. The Equal Opportunity Council and the Representative Council for Severely Disabled Students also joined the demands of the student parliament in their own statements.
The submission of the student initiative for the establishment of a central anti-discrimination counseling center represents a further step in the efforts to improve discrimination protection at the university and to meet the needs of students. The initiative is based on the commitment and support of many students who are committed to an inclusive and discrimination-free university community.