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Energy-saving policies

Trier university’s AStA criticises the effects of the energy-saving policies of the university, the state and the federal government.

The General Students’ Committee (AStA) of the University of Trier, which represents the interests of its approximately 11,000 students, criticises the effects of the energy-saving policy, which has been reflected in the restriction of the library’s opening hours, among other things. From now on, students at Campus I can only visit the university library on weekdays between 8am and 8pm. The weekends are particularly affected by the new opening hours. On Saturdays, a library visit is only possible from 1pm to 5 pm, and not at all on Sundays. At Campus II, the restriction has an even more serious effect. There, students can only work in the library on weekdays from 9am to 5pm. The library on Campus II will be closed on weekends. The regulations that are now in force lead to massive disadvantages for students, as the numerous feedbacks from the student body to the AStA clearly show.

In the AStA’s opinion, the effectiveness of these measures is more than questionable. The energy costs are thus only passed on to the students, who now have to heat their flats for longer durations.There is also the question of how much energy can be saved by restricting opening hours – especially in view of the ongoing investment backlog at the university.

“In this context, the decision can only be interpreted as pure symbolism at the expense of the students,” explains Kevin Mangrich, spokesperson for the AStA. “These drastic restrictions on library opening hours are in no way understandable or proportionate. Since the pandemic, those in charge should be aware that three quarters of the students have a part-time job. With the new opening hours, it is precisely these students, who only have the opportunity to go to the library in the evenings and on weekends, are denied access. The precarious financial situation of students is once again being ignored, just as it was during the pandemic,” Mangrich continues.

“We are very disconcerted and regret that we, as student representatives, were not included in such a drastic decision, which primarily affects the university’s largest status group, and that we were presented with the final results. Despite all our understanding of the need to take into account the energy-saving requirements of the federal and state governments, this decision shows that student interests played little to no role in the decision-making process. After the experience of the pandemic, in which students in particular consistently showed solidarity and were left out in the cold, both in terms of media and financial support, this is incredibly frustrating” adds Susanna Hubo, deputy spokesperson of the AStA.

The AStA therefore demands the immediate inclusion of student concerns in further decisions and an adjustment of the current regulations.

However, the criticism does not only refer to the decision-making process of the university, clarifies Nils Claasen, the AStA’s university policy representative: “We know that the university is only at the end of a long line of responsible parties. The federal and state governments must give the universities much more help and support them much more financially in overcoming the energy crisis. Especially in Rhineland-Palatinate, however, they are largely left alone. The responsible ministry does not even seem to be involved in crisis management in a coordinating capacity. Instead, they are setting tough savings targets and leaving the universities alone with their limited room for improvement. Efficient gas and electricity price caps, renovation and insulation of buildings, proper financing of student services: massive investments are now needed for relief measures and universities, so that the universities and the students, who are under massive economic strain, can get through the crisis. The fact that universities, in contrast to other educational institutions such as day-care centres and schools, are once again being left alone in this crisis is not acceptable.