AStA criticizes lenient verdict for misconduct of Göttingen professor

The General Students’ Committee (AStA) of the University of Göttingen is deeply shocked by the recent verdict of the Administrative Court of Göttingen in the case of the professor who, despite serious misdemeanors, only received a reduction in salary.

Although the court found that the professor had exploited power and hierarchical relationships, it only ordered a reduction in salary limited to 5 years. We do not understand the court spokeswoman’s reasoning for the verdict. It is incomprehensible to us how the court, despite six clearly confirmed cases of sexualized harassment and the clearly preferred female victim type, could come to the conclusion that it could not recognize “that the motivation [was also] sexual”. It is equally inexplicable how a defendant who was described throughout the trial as being uncomprehending could be expected to show insight and improve behavior in the near future. This decision, which resulted in the professor not being released despite the seriousness of the charges, is alarming and raises serious questions about the justice system and its ability to protect victims of sexualized assault.

As in the previous criminal trial against the university lecturer, a very lenient assessment of the evidence and an incomprehensibly positive prognosis were made despite an overwhelming factual situation. These verdicts send a devastating signal and discourage victims of sexualized violence and abuse of power. What signal does one want to send here to young women who dare to enter a male-dominated system of hierarchical dependence? It is no wonder that we still speak of a “leaky pipeline” in science when such incidents are neither adequately dealt with nor adequately sanctioned. The unattractiveness of academia to women, who find no protection due to the inconsistency of our justice system, hurts all universities and academic education and research institutions immensely.

The university should also have acted more decisively to ensure an appropriate verdict. It is embarrassing that the university, which made the court’s decision in this form possible by its inconsistent behavior in the form of not issuing a warning, now shows itself “surprised”.

Finally, we call on the University of Göttingen to take concrete measures to protect those affected. The money “saved” by the salary cut should be invested in the protection of those affected and in prevention, for example by re-establishing an anti-discrimination office and creating safe spaces for those affected. Cases like this once again underscore the immense importance of such structural changes.

The AStA calls on the students of the university to show solidarity with those affected. Furthermore, we demand that the university and its student body react to such blatant abuse of power, the structures that make it possible, and the persons from whom it emanates, with clear rejection and resistance.