Open Letter #exitracismUDK

Open letter from students of the Berlin University of the Arts

We are students of the UdK Berlin. We are BIPoC, white, non-binary, trans, cis, straight, queer, have different passports and are allowed to study at the UdK Berlin. We are situated between different privileges and marginalizations. We are angry and hopeful.

In a few days, the UdK Berlin is organizing a demonstration for the arts entitled „KUNST RAUM STADT“. In this context, the classes of the Faculty of Fine Arts were invited to introduce themselves in short video contributions. The global anti-racist protest movement has also sharpened the racism-critical view into our own institution and prompted us to position ourselves publicly within the discourse. With our protest we want to clearly oppose the vague framing of the event of „Arts in Crisis“ and draw attention to the racist structures of the UdK Berlin.

While the UdK Berlin enjoys the external reputation of a diverse university, when entering the institution it quickly becomes clear that BIPoC are alarmingly underrepresented among both students and teachers and also in the curriculum. Over a period of three days, more than 50 reports were collected from students who experienced racist discrimination at the university. These reports show clearly how in need of reform and regressive our institution is and how hurtful, disturbing and exclusionary its power is. The UdK Berlin is marked by the institutional racism inscribed in its structures, which reached its symbolic low point for the time being on 11 June 2020: Overnight, Black Lives Matter protest banners, which were attached by the class Pryde to the balconies of the UdK building at Hardenbergstraße 33, were removed and stolen without comment. The removal has hurt and angered many students and can therefore be seen as a prelude to the subsequent student protests.

Unfortunately, since the beginning of the protest movement, the majority of the professors* have failed to enter into a dialogue with us at eye level, thereby signalling a serious interest in our concerns. Until now we feel that we are not taken seriously and have therefore decided to emphasize our demands in the form of an open letter. We are shocked by the disinterest and lack of solidarity on the part of the teachers, with which we were confronted during our protest efforts and in the process of cross-class networking. Within our predominantly white student body negotiation processes have taken place, whose complexity seems not to have been understood by many teachers. In some cases, we encountered a level of hostility during the discussion, which we cannot accept in view of the occasion.

As students and the future generation of cultural workers, we claim the right – also in consideration of the new state anti-discrimination law – to study at a university that recognises their structural barriers and discrimination, resolutely and sustainably tackles them, and unitedly supports diversity-oriented and anti-racist organisational development. We call upon the university management to support and expand existing structures, groups and actors critical of discrimination financially and structurally. The following initiatives have been trying for years to bring about a structural change within the university.

We join their fights and demands:
–  Interflugs
–  Commission for Equal Opportunities (KfC)
–  AG Critical Diversity
–  AStA Unit for Anti-Discrimination and Intercultural Affairs
–  Committee on Anti-discrimination, Intercultural Diversity and Empowerment
–  Committee on Equality and Social Affairs
–  student initiative I.D.A
–  Common Ground
–  Artist Training
–  Student councils

Our cross-class networking has approached the topic from multiple perspectives and, through discursive exchange, has developed a concept for the anti-racist protest videos, which, together with the demands of AG Intersektionale Antidiskriminierung and the collected experience reports, will be shown on the LED screen at Steinplatz opposite the UdK Berlin on July 16 and 17, 2020. We call on you to attend our protests and support them in the future.

We are no longer willing to accept the white cis-male supremacy as given.

For further signatures, please send
First name Last name, position within the UdK Berlin
to exitracismUDK@gmail.com.

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