We are students of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences as well as the Faculty of Agriculture. As Liste Poppelsdorf, we are committed to the students at the University of Bonn. Our topics are student bodies (“Fachschaften”), sustainability, working space and equity.
In our first year in the student parliament (SP) we worked together with all fractions and many student bodies. Since we have no political party above us, we were always able to approach these collaborations in an unbiased and problem-oriented way.
Many projects have resulted from these very productive collaborations. For example, we have managed to get the university to provide study rooms during the pandemic. We had the university set up a food counselling service. We looked into student mobility and demanded that the Campus Poppelsdorf is made more attractive – including longer Mensa opening hours. We campaigned for easier access to loans for students in need, and for data protection and alternatives to Zoom. Furthermore, we asked the university to better protect students in Endenich against harassment in the context of street prostitution next to their campus.
After our first year, we have many more ideas that we would like to tackle and implement, some of which we have listed below. You can also contact us at any time if you have any wishes, needs or ideas!
Studying During Corona
For all of us, studying with Corona is a tough challenge. The cancellation of in-person-courses and the restrictions imposed onto libraries, canteens and cafeterias, and institutes pose hard problems for many students. In order to avoid a situation similar to the summer semester, we have advocated for Corona compliant work and study rooms – successfully! In libraries and canteens, study rooms are available again (as of December).
In addition to study rooms, many students also lost their income. In order to provide more support for students in financial distress, we have campaigned for the student aid fund to make it easier and faster to grant loans. Currently a loan of up to 1000 € can be granted without a guarantee/surety.
In Conversation with Student Bodies
Many of our members are active in their student body or council. Both committees know the state of affairs in their respective department and are pleading for their students causes within the department. Therefore, a close cooperation between the SP and the student bodies and the other student committees is very important to us in order to be able to address problems as the whole student body and put the demands forward with a louder voice.
Last year, we already visited some student bodies at the Campus Poppelsdorf and Endenich and talked with them about their concerns and problems which should be addressed by the SP or the university. So far, this has resulted in four joint motions and resolutions of the SP:
- Solving the problems with street prostitution at Campus Endenich (student bodies Chemistry and Pharmacy)
- Opening of study and work rooms under Corona conditions (student body Physics/Astronomy)
- A greener campus (six student bodies at Campus Poppeldorf)
- Better physical guidance on campus (six student bodies at Campus Poppeldorf)
Learning and Living on Campus
The active participation and improvement of campus life is one of our main interests. A campus should be more than just space for lectures and seminars. It should be a place where students feel comfortable. Therefore, we want an attractive campus with study and work rooms and especially social spaces!
To make sure that Campus Poppelsdorf looks beautiful when we come back from the Corona semesters, we have successfully submitted two motions to the student parliament. In these motions, we asked the university to plant greenery on the campus, to set up comfortable benches and tables, and to erect overview plans and signposts. In this way, the grey concrete area in front of the library can become a pleasant and green space to study and relax outside.
Additionally – due to our motion – the entire student body is now in favour of longer opening times at the “CAMPO Mensa Poppelsdorf”, the canteen in Poppelsdorf , and we will seek an exchange with the Studierendenwerk in order to implement this requirement. The Studierendenwerk is the operator of the canteens, cafeterias and the dormitories at the University of Bonn.
We are also trying to do the same with the bicycle garage in Poppelsdorf so that it can be used at any time as long as students are still active on campus.
UniCard is the approach to unify all cards such as the MensaCard, library card, student ID and student transit pass and many more into one card. This topic has been debated in the run up to elections for years – but after that, it gets quiet. The university, on the other hand, has been slowly trying to work out a solution, maybe even foregoing the card and moving directly to an app. While not much is known we can assume that the student ID card as well as the student transit pass should be replaced.
The SP did not have the opportunity to comment on these ideas. We tried to constitute a committee which was backed by multiple fractions, but sadly this got blocked by the coalition constisting of GHG (“Grüne Hochschulgruppe”), Jusos(“Juso HSG“) and LUST (“Liste undogmatischer Student*innen”).
The AStA coalition would rather wait until the rectorate presents a wholesome concept instead of discussing the topic beforehand. This is too late!
We feel that the SP should form a decision proactively and engage in a dialog with the administration actively. This way, concerns like data protection, backup solutions which cover missing cell service or empty batteries as well as students without a smart phone can be addressed. We campaign for a unification of all different cards which can be implemented sooner than later.
Gender Equality and Participation
Equality is another major issue. Students who are impaired should not be restricted access to or excluded from course offers.
A lot of institutes located in Poppelsdorf and Endenich are not accessible. Therefore we demand to speed up the expansion of accessibility, as well as more information on the current condition and on the plans how the university wants to proceed in this manner.
Especially looking at science courses, a pregnancy can be challenging as it can lead to exclusion from labs. Though this is not done maliciously but rather to protect both parents and children, it still can cause students to pause their study for a longer period and lose time. It would be optimal to adjust labs a little so that they can be completed while pregnant. We want more study courses to show considerations for pregnant students.
The participation can also be affected or complicated by other various aspects. Like financing student lifestyle. Thats why we stood up for new guidelines to ensure that more students can receive interest-free loans even after the pandemic form the student aid fund.
Another obstacle which hinders students is financial distress. We have championed the student aid fund to set up new guidelines to ensure more students can receive interest-free loans easier, even after the pandemic.
Climate change is a challenge everybody is facing, including everyday life at the university.
With the implementation of a dietary advice office, which we have successfully motioned for, we want to promote sustainability in diet as well as a healthy nutrition, even on a student budget. This includes fair trade as well as low water consumption or low CO2 emissions and regional products.
The same applies to mobility. A lot has already been done with the SemesterTicket (student transit pass), but there is still room for improvement concering bicycles. The connection of individual campus areas is also a decisive factor: If there are environmentally friendly alternatives such as public transport, cycling or simply walking that are safe an quick, car traffic can be greatly reduced.
University buildings should also pay more attention to waste separation. Proper and efficient recycling can only be ensured through proper separation of different materials. That is why we want separated garbage cans on campus and in every building.
Fair Wages for Student Assistants
Student assistants (“Studentische Hilfskräfte”, SHKs) are a key aspect of teaching and research at the University of Bonn. They provide important work such as tutors, library clerks or as part of research groups, without which the university would come to a grinding halt.
Despite that, they are chronically underpaid – especially in Bonn. While living expenses steadily rise, the rent explodes and the minimum wage slowly increases in accordance to those fees, the wages of student assistents remain unchanged and is among the worst in Northrhine-Westphalia (NRW). January, they will only be 0,50 € higher than the minimum wage, and the year after that, the minimum wage would surpass them. Among graduate student assistants, the wages are even worse, with Bonn being the worst paying university in the entirety of NRW.
An office representing student assistents and supporting their position is missing. Even though some representatives get elected every year, they are not well-known or communicated – and due to a missing website or contact address, they are simply unavailable for students.
We wish for those representatives to be present and efficient, as well as fair wages for all student assistents.
Digitisation with Data Protection
The pandemic required a fast response that drastically changed our day to day studies. The university often times had to find fast and easy solutions like Zoom. But just like the data security consultant of the university, we take issue with the lasting use of Zoom that does not protect your data well enough.
Therefore, we want to strengthen alternatives to Zoom that value your privacy. We demand that the university provides those alternatives. For small lectures, seminars or exercises there already are suitable systems like BigBlueButton or Jitsi, and a few departments already have those in place. Also, the university should champion for Zoom to implement the stronger European data protection laws.
The digital infrastructure of the university must be expanded. During the pandemic, many aspects of teaching like recorded lectures or submissions were moved online. We urge these additional options to be kept available online even after the pandemic.