Promoting Diversity and Shaping Relations

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"Living respectfully, promoting diversity, shaping relations" - with this motto for its campus campaign, Heidelberg University is participating this year in an initiative across the state of Baden-Württemberg. It aims to promote respectful dealings with one another and combat sexualised discrimination and violence at universities. The Equal Opportunities Office will coordinate the activities, which are addressed to the whole university community. They comprise, inter alia, professional development events, lectures and a podcast, along with online tutorials and a questionnaire on the topic.

"With our campaign we primarily want to raise awareness for the opportunities existing at the university to receive counselling and assistance," explains Christiane Schwieren, Equal Opportunities Commissioner at Heidelberg University. "We also want to make clear that sexual harassment, bullying, stalking, and discrimination are not tolerated at Heidelberg University and point out ways to prevent them." She says that there is a need for information at all levels, among both students and staff members, above all those in leading positions. "Many are uncertain when they are confronted with these issues and don’t know what to do. We aim to change that."

Another planned activity is a university-wide questionnaire on the issue. Its purpose is to find out whether there are "spaces of anxiety" at Heidelberg University and, if so, which ones. "We will evaluate this questionnaire with scientific assistance and then examine what action should be taken," says Prof. Schwieren. Further activities in the coming months concern, in particular, the professional handling of sexual harassment, bullying, stalking and discrimination.

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021 the Equal Opportunities Office will show online the documentary "Picture a Scientist - Frauen der Wissenschaft". Three female researchers in the United States report on their career and their experiences with discrimination. "With our campaign," adds Prof. Schwieren, "we also want to draw attention to the fact that people belonging to a minority at the university often have to perform additional tasks because, unlike the majority, they can’t take a lot of things for granted."

The campus campaign "Living respectfully, promoting diversity, shaping relations" at Heidelberg University is part of the state-wide initiative "Draw the line", which opposes sexualised discrimination and violence at universities. In August 2020 the relevant resolution was adopted in the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts and signed by the representatives of all universities and Science Minister Theresia Bauer.