Bavaria: Lecture hall occupations in Bavaria: How are the universities reacting?

School strikes and traffic blockades have been followed by another form of climate protest in recent months - activists have occupied their university lecture halls for days in protest.

Bavaria: Lecture hall occupations in Bavaria: How are the universities reacting?

School strikes and traffic blockades have been followed by another form of climate protest in recent months - activists have occupied their university lecture halls for days in protest. How do Bavaria's universities deal with this?

Munich (dpa/lby) - The lecture halls of Bavarian universities have become the scene of climate protests several times in the current winter semester. Students who occupy lecture halls and sometimes even stay there overnight want to campaign for an end to fossil fuels and a fairer climate policy. Sometimes the occupations only last a few hours, sometimes several days. Some of the activists leave the lecture halls at some point voluntarily, some the police have to arrive beforehand. The university administrations are reacting differently to the resurgent form of protest.

In Erlangen and Nuremberg, for example, the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) says it generally relies on a dialogue with the protesters. However, how occupations are actually dealt with must be decided on a case-by-case basis. A four-day protest in Erlangen was tolerated, but the police were called during an action on the Nuremberg campus because security could not be guaranteed due to the nearby chemical laboratories in the building. The protesters "leave the hall peacefully," said a spokeswoman for the university. "They were allowed to continue their content-related program on two subsequent days with safety requirements."

The university considers "the concerns of the protesters to be legitimate, but the type of protest to be of little use," said the spokeswoman. In her opinion, climate protection would "gain more attention and audience if joint campaigns and events were carried out". The FAU has already made offers to the protesters in this regard.

The Otto Friedrich University in Bamberg also has "great understanding" for the demands of the activists and has therefore tolerated the double occupancy of its lecture halls this semester. "We take the initiative's goals seriously and can understand them well," said University Chancellor Dagmar Steuer-Flieser. "At the same time, we would like a framework for discussions that does not affect teaching."

After a lecture hall was occupied in mid-December, the management of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich declared that it was "open to dialogue" but could not "tolerate illegal behavior". After repeated requests to end the occupation, the lecture hall was therefore cleared by the police. They do not want to file a criminal complaint against the squatters for trespassing.

"After more than two and a half years of the corona pandemic, the face-to-face teaching, which has been restored at great expense, represents a high value for teaching in the interest of all students and teachers," said the university. "The failure of a large lecture hall at the LMU while lectures are in progress cannot be tolerated by the university management."

The occupations are mostly organized by the protest group "End Fossil: Occupy!". According to the group, hundreds of schools and universities around the world are to be occupied between September and December as part of a global protest. In Germany there are corresponding campaigns in more than 20 cities.

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