On the 40th anniversary: Occupation of the Audimax

Following a student plenary session on “Solidarity and Free Education” on 11 November 2009, around 100 students occupy the Audimax, the largest lecture hall at Bielefeld University. The protest is primarily directed against the economisation of universities in Germany, which students believe to have got out of hand, and the implementation of the BA/MA degree system.

Flyer of the AStA with the invitation to the student assembly on 11 November 2009 in the Audimax.

Quelle: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, PL1/324

After several requests by Rektor Prof. Dr. Gerhard Sagerer to vacate the auditorium fell on deaf ears, the University management called the police on the morning of 13 November. By that time, however, the Audimax had already been abandoned. The occupiers had been warned by “lookouts” and had evacuated the Audimax before the police could intervene.

Squatters in front of the Chile mural in the central hall of the university.

Photo: Miriam Scharlibbe
Source: Neue Westfälische

On 17 November, a demonstration took place with 1,000 participants at Rathausplatz, the town hall square in the centre of Bielefeld, as part of the nationwide education protests. Following the demonstration, about 300 students marched to the University and noisily interrupted the University’s 40th anniversary ceremony in the Audimax. The event was cancelled and the guests had to leave the Audimax under police protection. Rektor Sagerer approached the demonstrators in the Main University Hall and signalled his willingness to talk about the topics addressed. After a few rounds of talks, the heated situation in Bielefeld and throughout Germany calmed down.

Students have painted the word “Besetzt” (“occupied”) on the floor of the Audimax, November 2009.

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universität Bielefeld