Preserve diversity research – Doing justice to social circumstances! (PR of the AStA from 03.07.2024)

On 12.06.2024, the Senate of the University of Göttingen passed the resolution to close the Master’s degree program “Social Science Diversity Research”. This decision met with great resistance from the student body and in particular from members of the subject area concerned.
The AStA would also like to speak out emphatically for the preservation of such a unique field of research and teaching, which has great social relevance. The closure is fundamentally the result of an ongoing problem. On the one hand, the state does not provide sufficient funding for universities in Lower Saxony, while the university is setting dubious priorities. The closure is in direct contradiction to the equality mandate of Lower Saxony’s universities in accordance with Section 3 (3) NHG, which must also be taken into account in the organization of studies and teaching.
The Senate’s decision to close the course is not comprehensible when taking a closer look at the course. Diversity research is a busy, accreditable degree course, especially in comparison to other degree courses and locations. In addition, its course offerings are also very popular with students from other disciplines. The interdisciplinary element, the high level of modernity and uniqueness as well as the “pull effect” for students towards the University of Göttingen, which should not be underestimated, are particularly positive. The decision also appears highly dubious with regard to the University’s efforts to achieve excellence, as it has become very clear that diversity and modernity are important aspects in the selection process.
Furthermore, this decision sends a very gloomy signal in a social context. In times of disinformation and populism, scientific foundations are essential for understanding and resolving social conflicts. Diversity research offers precisely this scientific basis, particularly in relation to discrimination and prejudice. This basis also brings practical benefits, particularly at a local level. For example, the scientific findings are used in the “Diversity on site” project in cooperation with the city through scientific communication. In this way, the university’s important social mission is also implemented. The university itself, which has committed itself to improving its diversity-oriented culture, not least by signing the “Diversity Charter”, could also benefit from the findings. The Senate’s decision fails to recognize this potential and thus counteracts the important efforts to resolve social conflicts. The non-transparent decision-making process must also be criticized. There was no open dialog appropriate for a university, primarily with those affected by the closure. Nor were any serious efforts made to preserve the course. For example, the mediating proposal to establish a joint Master’s program in Gender and Diversity Studies received no attention whatsoever. Arguments such as the preservation of gender studies are flimsy in view of the great previous efforts of the student body and the differences in the nature of the degree programs.

“Diversity is a declared social goal to which the university is not only committed, but to which it is also obligated under its legal mandate. It takes more than lip service to fulfill this responsibility. The preservation of diversity research would be a clear sign and recognition of the important work of this subject. Diversity is not for decoration!” Alicia Kopitzki – Gender & Diversity Officer of the AStA

“The university should be a space for open discourse about its design. Non-transparent processes such as this and the complete ignoring of the interests of the student body and those affected do not do justice to our institution. In particular, we would like to emphasize this: The closure of degree programs without replacement must be the last resort and not the first option for action. We would therefore like to appeal to the university and the state of Lower Saxony to reassess this matter.” Jan Stefes – Chairman of the AStA