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uni'alumni 2016

Only the officially recognized AStA could request money. Was there also a construct for u-asta’s budget? Maerz: AStA did have a budget, but we had to re- quest approval for every penny we spent since we were subject to the supervision of the Rectorate. We had to get three cost estimates before buying a pushcart to distribute our newspaper. Back in the 1970s, the students founded an association to give u-asta its own source of funding. The official AStA representatives could donate their expense allow- ance of several hundred marks per semester by depositing it in the association’s account. Revenue from festivals and concerts organized by u-asta were also deposited in the account as donations. What policy goals did you have a good 15 years ago? Maerz: One thing we wanted to do was abolish tuition. We also wanted to achieve financial autono- my, secure more funding for our work, and become an autonomous organ. In addition, we advocated the reintroduction of a VS with a political mandate. That was a point we all agreed upon. However, even the members of u-asta were in disagreement on whether it should have a general political mandate and whether membership should be obligatory for students. Ms. Osterholt, how difficult was it to build up a new structure following the reintroduc- tion of the VS? Anna-Lena Osterholt: There were widely differ- ent models for a future student representative body on the table. The most important were a student parliament in which university groups would have proportional representation and a model involving a student council with a fixed amount of votes for the more than 30 academic departments. How did you decide on a model? Osterholt: The election campaign in June 2013 was very colorful because we had posters hung up all over the university. The ballot vote went in favor of the Student Council, but it took a while to agree on the rules of procedure and the concrete work it would be responsible for. Ten additional places are reserved for political groups at the university. Their representatives participate actively in the discus- sions and help shape the positions of the VS. The student membership fees were set at seven euros per semester. This income enables us to fund ex- ternal groups with requests for political, athletic, or cultural projects. Maerz: In the 1990s we considered the reintroduc- tion of a VS to be completely unrealistic, even though we persisted in demanding it. We never thought it possible that a government would even agree to granting it a political mandate. We always had to act as u-asta in our most important initiatives, like the petition for dual citizenship or the fight against tuition, and many did not see us as officially repre- senting the students. This was also true of our pro- tests against stricter regimentation of studies in the wake of the Bologna reform. Plus, even then we endorsed the plans to build the tram line over Rotteckring and blocked Rempartstraße in support of closing it off for cars. But many people did not take us seriously, because they saw us as only ever being against things. Have all of your expectations been met? Osterholt: On the whole, I’m satisfied that the gov- ernment has written our general political mandate into the State Higher Education Act. This recogni- tion is important to us. We are now a corporation vested with legal powers under public law and a responsible part of the university. In practice, how- ever, the day-to-day work of the VS is not all that different from that of the u-asta, although our board members do earn 450 euros per month instead of 200 marks, the same as those with marginal employ- ment. But you still have to find the extra time to do the work. Maerz: I had to ask my father for permission to be a member of the u-asta board. I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise, because it delayed my grad- uation. But in retrospect, I’m still happy to have had this experience. I learned how to speak in public and to hold my own against professors in the Senate, and I acquired great organizational skills. It was like a bunch of internships rolled up into one. Tuition has been abolished, and the VS has been reinstituted. What is left to do? Osterholt: We were very critical of the teacher education reform and would have liked to have prevented it. We are now advocating the abolish- ment of compulsory attendance. It’s also not right that you can only cancel your registration for an examination with a medical certificate including a description of your symptoms. We find the civil clause recently passed by the university too general. Finally, we’re also still working on the issue of a statewide student public transportation pass. » University News uni‘alumni 2016 Anna-Lena Osterholt is a 5th semester student of German and Political Science/Economics in a teaching degree program. After the reinstitution of the legally constituted student government, she became a board member and participated in the Student Council as a reporter and advisor. She is currently serving as the representative for teaching degree students. Susanne Maerz holds a PhD in Scandinavian studies. She was a mem- ber of the u-asta board and chairperson of the AStA board in 1998/99. Since completing her studies, she has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor. 27