On November 2nd2022, the most recent Hochschultag took place with inclusion as the central theme. A few months earlier, some of the student assistants from the Start with a Peer project and the AstA formed a group with the aim of organizing a workshop from a student perspective on the topic of inclusion at ASH Berlin. As a group, our main goal was to create a space for the voices of students to be heard, especially concerning what they identify as needed to feel included at ASH Berlin. Furthermore, we wanted to demonstrate the need to consciously provide space for student perspectives at future Hochschultage as well.
As students ourselves, we had no decisional power in the overall organization of the Hochschultag. We fought for translation to be provided during the event, but the administration of ASH refused it. This is very ironic considering that the main topic of the day was inclusion and that by refusing to translate it, part of the students were automatically excluded. For this reason, a group of students from the international Master programs organized a protest. We would have wished that the protest had been taken more seriously from the beginning and that it had not needed another middle-person to acknowledge it.
Going back to the space that was given to students’ voices, we wanted to collect and represent as many voices and experiences as possible. Thus, in preparation for the Hochschultag, an online survey was conducted and the results were transformed into concrete needs and suggestions of actions or changes that would improve the current situation at ASH Berlin. This formed the basis for all further discussions at the workshop itself, where the results were presented for the first time. The participation in the survey and workshop came from a diversity of students including the representation of various programs and of international students. Several needs of students unfolded, including the following: universal access to learning; ability to access services; inclusive, simple, and sensitive communication; inclusivity and awareness in the pandemic management; accessibility; sensibilization; feeling of community; and more diversity at ASH in general. You can see in the table the results of our project and the specific demands to improve the inclusion of students at ASH.
We understand that not everything can be immediately implemented, but we demand the recognition of all difficulties encountered by the students and the acknowledgement of the needs for changes to happen. Finally, we want to say that this is not the first time that students express their needs, but we count on this time their voices will be heard. That is why we want to address the university management very clearly with this closing statement: We will keep pushing and working on different levels to change the situation, but it is now also up to you to see this as an opportunity to make real improvements. We have set a basis and hope that future decisions will take these perspectives into account.
Chrystel Brisson (SWHR M.A. student, student assistant in “Start with a Peer”), Anja Rosa Neuner (SWHR M.A. student, student assistant in “Start with a Peer”) as representatives for a group of people from BIPoC Referate des AStA, active members in Hochschulpolitik, and student assistants in “Start with a Peer”