We, the AGs Awareness of the movements “Erde Brennt – Uni besetzen” stand up for the anti-discriminatory, regenerative, solidary and communal practices that (should) make up our movement.
In addition, the movement should be a possibility to get away from the constant urgency thinking in the face of all crises, to decelerate and to learn to make our activism sustainable. In doing so, we need to unlearn deep-seated (capitalist) thought patterns and action practices that measure our value by our performance, that ask us to do more and more if possible, and to take on all responsibility. We want to prevent any burnout within the movement. Instead, we need to learn to listen to ourselves and our limits, to deal with stress, and to rely on each other.
When people work so closely together, conflicts and disputes inevitably arise. We advocate a positive culture of conflict where differences and grievances can be addressed and resolved in an appropriate manner – mediated by the community.
How does Awareness work?
Note: in order to make this Code of Conduct as accessible as possible, you will find a glossary at the end to explain unfamiliar words.
“Awareness” means to be aware of ones surroundings. In the context of activist work, this means treating oneself and others with care. This requires rules in advance that structure the course of actions and how they are handled. In addition, they should offer guidelines on how we should and can act in various conflict-ridden and stressful situations. Our goal should be to create a space in which everyone can feel as safe and comfortable as possible. In order to achieve this, we must take active action against any form of discrimination and reflect on and criticize the underlying power and dominance structures.
As an awareness team, we work with queer-feminist and anti-racist principles and concepts such as consensus, power of definition, confidentiality and restorative/transformative justice approaches. What this means in concrete terms and how we want to put theory into practice is formulated in the following code of conduct.
Disclaimer: Awareness only works if everyone participates in it. Everyone should feel fundamentally responsible for looking after one another and taking care of themselves – this is not a task that can only be outsourced to the awareness team. Protest actions like occupations can quickly become chaotic, loud and overwhelming. We can’t always do something about this atmosphere and, to a certain extent, we don’t want to either. Our aim is to find a careful and safe way of dealing with these challenging circumstances. We do our best to ensure safety and well-being. It must be clear that the awareness team consists of people who need to take care of themselves and their resources in order to be able to do their work. We must also be aware that the non-discriminatory space we are striving for does not yet exist. By aligning our work with this knowledge, reflection, awareness and deconstruction of internalized -isms are part of our work, to which we want to contribute everything possible. However, should there be any issues with the Awareness Team, there will be an opportunity for criticism and feedback, as well as a follow-up that conforms to the Code of Conduct below. We want to lead by example and express any responsibility for misconduct on our part.
Trigger warning: Various forms of violence and border crossing are mentioned in the following text. Only read on when you feel able to so.
To be Aware: Discrimination does not always happen consciously. As part of society, we too have internalized relationships of discrimination and domination, which can find expression in the form of direct or indirect violence. These can take a physical, sexualized, verbal and emotional form or as microaggression. In order to take preventive action against discrimination and violence, we must become aware of our own -isms and the practices in which we reproduce them, and overturn them.
Safe spaces for FLINTA*: Because cis-dyadic men occupy a privileged position within the patriarchal social order, it is FLINTA* individuals who are affected by sexism and patriarchal violence. Activist structures are also affected by this, so that sexism repeatedly occurs within activist endeavours. A large part of (invisible) care work, which includes providing food and drink, but also emotional nurturing and support, is often left to FLINTA* people, while tasks that are considered pricey and more daring (e.g. strategic action planning), and thus also achieve more visibility and publicity, are carried out by cis-dyadic men. Such a division of tasks reproduces the dichotomy between private female-associated space and public male-associated space. Awareness also includes making care work visible (because it is essential in all our endeavors) and relieving FLINTA* people where possible. Campaigns are also often not free of violence against FLINTA* people, which means a further loss of strength in addition to campaign-related efforts. For this reason, FLINTA* people should be given an even safer space. In FLINTA* safe spaces, they should be given the opportunity to recover from strenuous activities, to catch their breath together and to process experiences.
Safe spaces for BIPoC and migrants: An occupation of the university cannot do without a fundamental protest at the constant reproduction of racism and imperial Eurocentrism. This applies to the institution, both internally and externally. Like most areas of social life, courses and campus life are not safe spaces for BIPoC and migrants. This is reflected in the use of racist terms and the uncritical presentation of inhuman “research settings” by the teaching staff or structural discrimination at all levels. For example, while the chairs and administrative positions are almost exclusively occupied by white people, reproductive and “cleaning” work is carried out by racialized employees. The university also shows itself to be racist and colonial through a canon set by white (colonial) European cis-men and the glorification of these men through statues in the university buildings, while racialized authors or authors who can be assigned to the Global South do not receive nearly equal attention in teaching and research is granted.
In short: the university is teeming with white supremacy and we must do everything we can to unmask this and make this institution a more accessible and safe space for BIPoC and migrants. Awareness has the task of actively supporting existing anti-racist groups, actively decreeing anti-racist and decolonial struggles at the center of the movement and taking action against any kind of discrimination.
Because many activists in our movement are themselves read as white, this is a concern that also needs to be dealt with internally, by actively dismantling internalized racism and eurocentrism.
Accessibility and Inclusion: We try to make our events as barrier-free as possible. The premises must be barrier-free accessible. In addition to communicating in German, all our texts should also be written in English; Mobilization should also take place in other languages such as Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, Arabic and more. We ask you to pay attention to a barrier-free and as inclusive language as possible and to gender with the gender star (e.g.: Aktivist*innen).
Positioning: In our space there is explicitly no place for racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and any other form of discrimination and violence. The forms of discrimination just mentioned are not complete and must not be considered in isolation, but rather intersectionally (interwoven). Since we are all not free from discriminatory thought and behavior patterns, the space should always be offered within our movement to learn from mistakes with and from each other, to reflect on hurtful behavior and to take responsibility for it. Our awareness team currently consists mainly of queer, white and able-bodied individuals and accordingly does not include all perspectives that we have to think about in our work, so that we can and must continue to learn here.
Consensus: A prerequisite for treating each other with respect and care is the willingness of everyone to be or become aware of the limits of others (as well as their own), to accept them and, ideally, to communicate. Basically, only “YES” means “YES” and everything else means “NO” for the time being. This includes, for example, a shrug of the shoulders, statements like “I don’t know” or silence/no reaction. Accordingly, consensus is often more complex than distinguishing between “YES” and “NO” and conflicts in relation to consensus can take various forms – e.g. through accidentally touching another person, through to violent and intentional crossing of borders – it is always primarily ours Task to listen to the person affected by a border crossing and to let them define the extent of the situation themselves.
Power of definition: In every consensus conflict and every time a border is crossed, it is our task to focus on the safety, as well as the concerns, wishes and needs of the person concerned in our further procedure. When someone experiences violence, abuse and/or discrimination in the context of our movement, the perspective of the person affected applies. We act in partisanship and solidarity with them. The person concerned owes no justification to the person exercising/causing the violence. However, if the person wants a confrontation, we accept their wish and ask how best to encourage them. If the person wishes to have a personal confrontation, they can be supported mediatively by the awareness team. The awareness team decides in consultation with all the people directly affected by the conflict (if desired, the community of the affected person also plays a decisive role here) on the consequences for the person using/causing the violence. It is not our goal to exclude someone from our movement, but to enable learning processes and to solve conflicts in the interests of all those involved – especially those affected. However, if a situation escalates and/or threatens to end in violence, it is necessary to take direct action, such as being excluded or calling in external support. This also applies if this is explicitly requested by the person concerned.
We take special care not to overwhelm the person concerned, but offer them the opportunity to retreat to a shelter. Our approach after crossing a boundary must be de-escalating and decelerating – within the awareness team we always act in consultation with each other and never make hasty decisions alone. If an affected person wants to leave the event, we will accept their request immediately and, if they want to, ensure that they get home or to a place where they feel safe as quickly and safely as possible. If we are not able to support the person concerned sufficiently, we will point them to further support offers that they can turn to. We don’t leave anyone alone.
Restorative Justice and Error Friendly Space
We try to integrate approaches of transformative/ restorative justice into our work. In concrete terms, this means that we do not rely on penalties and punishment, but rather on consequences that are desired by the person concerned and on a constructive resolution of conflicts. We do not believe in stigmatizing and marginalizing those who know they have acted in abusive ways and want to take responsibility for it. Instead, we encourage them to reflect on their behavior and change it, and to participate in rectifying the situation (if this is in the interest of the person concerned).
Ableism: discrimination against people with physical, mental or psychological impairments and/or disabilities
Able-bodied: People without physical impairments/disabilities
Care work: (often unpaid) Activities of caring for, e.g. children and those in need of care, helping friends, household chores and much more, which are mainly done by women and are treated as natural for them
Cis-gender: all those who identify with the binary gender identity (male/female) determined and registered to them at birth
Power of definition: those who have experienced violence/discrimination are allowed to define for themselves what form of violence/discrimination they have experienced and with which terms it can be described
Dichotomy: dichotomy, here in relation to the binary gender system in female and male
Dyadic: Dyadic (or endosex) refers to people who are not inter, i.e. whose bodies fit into a clear medical norm of male or female bodies.
Eurocentrism: describes the assessment of non-European cultures from the perspective of European values and norms
Error-Friendly Space: a space in which we see ourselves as individuals who (must) be subject to constant learning processes, which naturally include making mistakes. These mistakes are not countered with punishment but with help to work through, understand and do better.
FLINTA*: Abbreviation for: Female – Lesbian – Inter – Non-Binay – Trans – A-Gender – *
– Women: those who identify as female
– Lesbians: those who define themselves as feminine and homosexual
– Intersex, those who are born with both “female” and “male” sex characteristics
– Non-binary, those who do not identify as either male or female
– Transgender, those who do not identify with the binary gender assigned at birth: trans women and trans men
– A-gender, those who don’t identify as gendered
– *, those who are affected by the disadvantage of patriarchal structures and do not find themselves in the “F-L-I-N-T-A” categories, therefore: are not cis men
Heteronormativity: Worldview that sees heterosexuality as the norm
Intersectionality: Inequalities/discrimination are not seen in isolation, but as intertwined and seen simultaneously. As a result, for example, recognizing that a woman who is white experiences less discrimination than a woman who is also affected by racism and/or ableism.
-isms: is a part of the word used to group together different forms of discrimination, because many of them end with “-ism”, such as “sexism, racism, fascism”. In common activist language, however, other forms of discrimination are also included here, such as “homophobia, transphobia or Islamophobia” and many others. In our text, by “-isms” we mean any dominant form of discrimination that we consistently speak out against.
Consensus: the assent / consent. Consent can only be given to those who have several options, i.e. by preceding a question and waiting for an answer.
Mediation: joint, structured and moderated conflict resolution with people who are not directly involved in the conflict and who are as neutral as possible, who provide assistance in resolving the conflict through constructive mediation.
Microaggression: are hard to define but easy to illustrate. Most of the time, according to the practitioner, they are “no harm meant” and can be dismissed as oversights or trivialities, but they do no less harm for that. Microaggression is, for example, when a person’s statements are (repeatedly) ignored or when people are (repeatedly) interrupted. Microaggressions can also be sentences like “I can’t tell that you’re trans” or “For me, all people are the same, no matter the color of their skin”. But a lack of accessibility is also a microaggression. Due to internalized power relations, those who are affected by discrimination are particularly victims of microaggression.
Patriarchy: Social order in which the cis man has the preferred position.
Queer: Collective term for all those who deviate from cisgender – heteronormativity.
Restorative/ transformative justice: refers to the practice of changing conflicts and their underlying structures through redress. The focus is on those affected (and the community) in order to enable solutions.
White Supremacy: Racist ideologies and states of domination which are based on the assumption that people with European ancestors – called whites – are superior to other people in principle and that their privileged position must therefore be guaranteed.