Visit from the Rector

Visit from the Rector

At the 178th StuRa meeting, our new Rector, Prof. Dr. Frauke Melchior, paid us a visit and answered questions by the student body. In the course of this, 4 main topics were particularly interesting: security, the university’s public relations and transparency, the expansion of workspaces in general as well as the development of Heidelberg University into a diversity-sensitive institution.

Security at the university

One of the main issues here was the lack of a security concept, which was made painfully clear to us all almost exactly two years ago during the shooting rampage in Heidelberg on Jan. 24, 2022. Regarding this matter, the Rector pointed out a new working group around the Chancellor that had just been constituted on January, 23. Students would be cordially invited to participate. In response to the objection that such an enquiry should have been announced before the meeting, Prof. Melchior assured that student participation in such projects shall be considered more in the future. She also appreciated the information that some faculties are in urgent need of construction measures or an escape route description and promised to take care of said matters together with her staff.

More student participation and publicity

Another issue that concerns almost all students is the lack of transparency at the university – regarding the work of the Senate, the Faculty Council or the election of the Rector. Unfortunately, discussions showed that the background of certain regulations is sometimes difficult to grasp. After all, non-disclosure is necessary for personnel matters in particular and to protect the privacy of individuals in general. However, Mrs Melchior promised to continue to look into the issue and, furthermore, was able to assure us that (at least) the process of electing the new rector had gone well.

Moreover, the StuRa was surprised by Prof. Melchior’s statement that she considers many small student associations (Fachschaften) to be impractical and rather incapable of acting as opposed to large student associations (e.g. one student association per faculty). Our Internal Department (Innenreferat), which i.a. is responsible for coordinating student associations, criticises this perspective. An independent organisation of students of a particular subject remains an important element of student representation – such a proposal would only reinforce the fact that students aren’t always properly heard, due to the university’s committee structures.

Expansion of UB (university library) workspaces

In light of the current exam phase, one of the most burning questions was of course whether and when more library workspaces are planned. The Rector assured us that she would be happy to see what could be done in this regard. One of her bigger concerns here was that TV-L contracts could mean that small institute libraries, which we all love so dearly, could face an uncertain future. After all, it would be difficult enough to find permanent job positions for all of the employed student assistants.

Development of the university towards a diversity-sensitive university

Accessibility in learning and teaching is an issue that has been close to the StuRa’s heart for years. Be it barrier-free rooms and/or escape routes, suitable equipment or subtitling lectures. Prof. Melchior was very receptive of this topic. She is very much looking forward to any suggestions she receives in this regard. The topic of LGBTQ is also close to her heart – be it deadnames in university contracts or unisex toilets. She is happy to take on all of these issues.

Closure of the Marstall

All of us are dreading the imminent closure of our beloved Marstall canteen. Unfortunately, even the headmistress was unable to allay our fears. The prospect remains that from 2025 onwards we shall be running around the old town like a bunch of startled chickens looking for something to fill the black hole with (as well as our stomachs) that this renovation will tear in all our hearts…