Statement of the Rectorate on the occupation of lecture hall H1

Author: Bielefeld University

Since 2 May, activists from the group “End Fossil Occupy” have been occupying the university’s lecture hall H1 and one of the bridges in the university hall. This occupation was not announced to the university administration.

On 8 May, a meeting took place between a delegation of the occupiers and representatives of the rectorate. During the meeting, the occupiers handed over a list of demands to the rectorate. The rectorate took note of this, but did not negotiate the demands. Instead, the occupiers were informed of the various possibilities for participation and of existing university committees. Students at Bielefeld University can set topics, provoke debates and get involved in decisions. The occupiers should – according to the rectorate’s request – make use of these intended democratic ways of participation.

The rectorate has once again emphasised that Bielefeld University is more than an institution for studying, teaching and research. Students should also develop personally during their studies. Bielefeld University offers a wide range of platforms for students to get involved – in university politics, music, art, sports and intercultural cooperation. In this respect, the Rectorate welcomes it when students get involved in the very important issue of sustainable development at Bielefeld University. This commitment could already be observed in the context of a participatory process initiated by the Rectorate in previous semesters and currently in the “Sustainable Semester”.

However, in a large and diverse institution like the university, such engagement can only work if the debates take place within a defined framework. The university management has issued formal rules for this, within the framework of which freedom of expression is ensured. This applies in particular to posters in the university hall or the use of premises.

By occupying a lecture hall, the occupiers have left this framework. They must therefore vacate the lecture hall. This expectation was repeated by the rectorate in the discussion. The rectorate wants to avoid an escalation – also in view of the social significance of the topic and the current “sustainable semester”. The occupiers have promised to vacate the lecture hall on 11 May.

The rectorate appeals to all groups in the university: get involved. Get involved with your issues and engage in controversial debates. But don’t leave the framework that the university has made available to you. Because remember: there are diverse – even controversial – opinions in the university, which we have to accept. The set framework ensures that debates can be fair and respectful.

Further information:

  • Information on the topic of “Sustainability at Bielefeld University”, including the participatory process of developing a sustainability mission statement, can be found here:
  • Bielefeld University provides rooms and lecture halls for temporary events free of charge and by appointment to bodies of the student body and registered student associations. This also applies to political groups.
  • Alternative rooms or formats (postponement and partly online formats) could be found for the majority of the courses that were planned in H1 until 11 May.

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