Focus on equal opportunities and protection from discrimination - also and especially during the Corona pandemic

On this page, leaders and lecturers in particular will find information on how they can contribute to equal opportunities and protection against discrimination in corona times.


The corona pandemic is accompanied by challenges for society as well as for members and affiliates of the University of Göttingen. It fundamentally changes work, studies, teaching and research. Many people are insecure, have fears and worries, plans and arrangements change quickly or become obsolete, many questions arise. Hence, it becomes obvious that the Corona Pandemic and its consequences do not affect all members and relatives of the University in the same way: Depending on their life situation and circumstances, current political and organisational measures have different effects. For example, people who have to provide care for others face particular pressure. While schools and childcare facilities are closed, they may be responsible for homeschooling and childcare while having to work from home or write qualification papers at the same time. There is reason to fear that the increase in care work due to the Corona pandemic will reinforce the still-existing division of labour between the genders and lead to professional disadvantages, especially for women. Therefore, it is currently particularly important to design university processes in such a way that all employees and doctoral students can fulfil their care responsibilities regardless of gender. Overall, difficult organisation of everyday life, psychosocial insecurities, social exclusion and existential threats due to financial distress or experiences of discrimination or violence lead to new or increase existing multiple burdens. The aim of this website is to draw attention to these - new and old - disadvantages and discrimination applying the perspectives of equality, compatibility and diversity. It would like to raise awareness of the importance of equal opportunities and protection against discrimination, also and especially in times of Corona. All members and relatives of the university may work together to ensure that existing inequalities are not aggravated and further discrimination against vulnerable groups is prevented.
Particularly affected by the current situation are (among others) people

  • with responsibility for care (children, nursing) in various household and family constellations (also shared flats, patchwork families etc.), especially single-parent families
  • with low participation in support networks (e.g. communities, families, shared flats), e.g. internationals
  • who belong to the so-called risk groups
  • with impairments, chronic illnesses (including psychological) and disabilities
  • with limited resources such as time, financial security, space to work/teach from home and precarious contract constellations
  • with lack of access to technical equipment (insufficient network connection or computer capacity), infrastructure and working materials
  • with only basic digital skills
  • who suffer from increased racial discrimination (e.g. racial profiling during control measures on contact restrictions, anti-Asian racism)
  • who are affected by disadvantage, discrimination and (domestic) violence in their own living environment due to the curfew regulations
  • who are living in cramped living conditions, which do not allow physical distance and necessary hygiene measures to the required extent.

This list is not exhaustive.

Below you will find information and suggestions on how to consider the different living situations and situations and their effects when designing solutions and new measures during the corona pandemic.

Leadership - organisation of work processes and teams and supervision of qualification work

As a leader and as a supervisor of qualification work, you are currently challenged in a special way to ensure cohesion in work teams and "functioning" work processes. Communication flows and work processes have to be (re-)organized - often under rapidly changing conditions, high time pressure and without the usual spaces and tools.

Basic information

  • Please take into account that the time, space, technical and emotional resources of the employees or doctoral candidates may be limited. Where applicable also make clear your own personal constraints
  • Employees or doctoral students with children have to provide full-time childcare (sometimes with additional homeschooling) and care while working and have only limited control of time and scheduling. Particularly affected are single parents, parents of pre-school-age children, persons in patchwork family constellations, as well as international employees and doctoral candidates. Relatives providing care must always reckon with the lack or absence of outpatient nursing services or caregivers.
  • Precariously employed people with short contract terms or fee contracts are currently confronted with immense uncertainty and emotional stress.

Recommendations

  • Make sure that time arrangements for home office and for joint work or coordination processes are as flexible and individually adapted as possible.
  • Take into account that only limited work performance may be possible.
  • Give your employees and doctoral candidates a clear signalthat you are aware that delays can occur and that you are committed to ensuring that there will be no disadvantage in this regard.
  • Make sure that employees and doctoral students who belong to the so-called risk group can protect themselves without being forced to explain their situation in working contexts (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "risk group").
  • Please bear in mind that not all employees or doctoral candidates have an optimally equipped home office workstation. Ask your employees and doctoral candidates whether they have the necessary technical infrastructure (network connection, operating systems, terminal equipment, computer capacity) and digital skills before you select tools for collaboration and set up communication processes. Make sure that the technical possibilities are as barrier-free as possible and do not require any special skills (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "accessibility").
  • Remember that caring for relatives, belonging to a risk group, financial hardship, precarious employment, increased (e.g. racist) experiences of discrimination in the context of Corona, or fear of discrimination and violence in the family or residential environment can be a huge emotional burden. In particular, keep in mind the situation of international employees or doctoral candidates (language barriers, consequences under residence law).
  • Take into account that video formats can impair the privacy of employees and doctoral students and ensure, within the scope of your possibilities, that digital rooms are used without discrimination, for example by making the possibilities of the respective tool (e.g. sound and camera shutdown by user) transparent from the very beginning. Discuss which parts of a conference are recorded/published and which are not. If necessary, point out possible private chat options for discussion of the content and that joint responsibility for fair cooperation can be assumed.
  • Signalize approachability to your team, also for issues that otherwise do not play a role in the work context and draw attention to complaint possibilities in case of discrimination in digital spaces (e.g. Hate Speech) (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "advice & consulting").

Teaching - Design and implementation of courses and examinations

As a lecturer you are currently challenged to design your teaching - courses, consultation, supervision and examinations - online under great time pressure and to implement it in digital form. In many places the general conditions (legal questions, technical infrastructure, data protection, etc.) are often still unclear. This is exacerbated by the need to reconcile individual compatibility requirements and (particularly in the qualification phase and for lecturers) precarious employment relationships and financial difficulties.

Basic information

  • When designing and conducting teaching, including counselling, supervision and examination, take into account that the time, space, technical and emotional resources of students may be limited. If applicable, also make clear your own personal constraints
  • Students with children have to provide full-time childcare (sometimes also homeschooling) parallel to their studies and have only limited control of time and scheduling.
  • Students who care for relatives must reckon with the lack or absence of outpatient nursing services or caregivers at any moment
  • Many students find themselves in a concrete financial emergency due to the loss of side jobs.
  • For many students, the use of digital tools poses an additional risk of discrimination, as the University of Göttingen usually does not yet offer the possibility to participate in courses with self-chosen names.
  • International students are particularly affected because delays in their studies and financial difficulties can have consequences in terms of residence law, they are confronted with language barriers and sometimes do not have an undisturbed workplace in their residential environment.
  • Some students with disabilities or chronic illnesses can benefit from digital teaching formats (e.g. time-independent usability), while for others new barriers arise for attending courses or successfully completing studies and exams.
  • The rapid translation of teaching into online or digital formats may increase existing discrimination risks.


Recommendations

Make sure that students can participate in courses (asynchronous formats) as flexibly as possible. If you use live formats, make your contribution available as a recording to those students who were unable to attend. Allow longer processing times for academic and examination papers.

Ideally, a virtual course should not be more time-consuming than the same course in attendance - for you as a teacher and for students. If possible, use tools and formats that require little training.

In the course of your curriculum planning, find out about your scope of action as a teacher, for example regarding questions of dealing with disruptions or incidents of discrimination in virtual teaching.
You will find contact persons in your faculties, in the Department of University Didactics, in the Department of Public Relations and in the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Office.
For legal aspects, please contact the Department of Science Law and Support Foundation. Acute incidents are recorded by the Emergency and Fault Reporting Centre at 39-1171.
For attendance courses, you will find a presentation by the Department of Law and Foundation: Scope and Application of Domestic Law. (Geltungsbereich und Anwendung des Hausrechts (in German))

At the beginning of the course, point out to the students the contact and advice points to which they can turn in case of discrimination (e.g. Hate Speech). Contact persons who offer counselling for specific target groups and specific topics can be found, for example, on the pages „Coronavirus: Information A-Z for University Staff“ (keyword: counselling centres) or in the „Guide: Dealing with Discrimination at the University of Göttingen" (section: What can I do?).

Decide before the event which tools you want to use and what features they should have. If possible, deactivate those features that you do not need. The more communication channels (auditory, visual, text-based...) are available, the better students can participate according to their preferred learning approaches.
With the number of communication channels, however, the risk that they may be misused increases, e.g. by posting abusive messages in public or private chats, showing inappropriate images and symbols in avatars, in video backgrounds, on whiteboards or on shared screens, and making unauthorized recordings or screenshots (see below).
It is worthwhile to consider the risks and possibilities offered by each tool in advance and to adapt it to your own needs, abilities and, if applicable, moderation resources.

Overview e-Learning

Information on the different tools

How to deal with faults


Keep in mind that video formats can affect the privacy of students. Therefore, make sure within the scope of your possibilities that digital rooms are used as non-discriminatory as possible, e.g. by informing students at the beginning of their studies about the possibility of switching off sound and cameras. If it is necessary to participate with the camera and sound switched on, communicate why this is relevant for teaching or why it is necessary.

Always make it clear which parts of a course are to be recorded and which are not. Recording is only allowed by teachers, and only if all those who have been recorded are informed about the recording and its use and have actively given their consent (this should be documented). The consent can be withdrawn at any time. Always proceed according to the principle of data minimization: Data that is not collected in the first place cannot be misused.

Detailed information and answers to frequent legal questions about Rights in image and sound recordings (pdf in German) or here, data protection in Zoom for teachers: Datenschutz in Zoom (Lehrende) (pdf in German) and for studentsDatenschutz in Zoom (Studierende) (pdf in German) , both can be found on the " Web/Videoconferencing" page of the Digital Learning and Teaching team (in German).
Please also note the paper „Einsatz von Videoconferencing in der Lehre und bei Gremien“ (Use of videoconferencing in teaching and committees – pdf in German), 08.05.2020).

You can develop an Code of Conduct and prepare it yourself and/or work on it together with the students. Here you can record the wishes and expectations of all participants regarding the course and its atmosphere, how they want to communicate with each other, how they want to deal with conflicts and heated discussions, and which basic conditions you want to set in your course for successful communication and protection against discrimination.

Respond as sensitively as possible to inquiries, requests and fears of students whose situation in the current situation represents a particular hardship, and signal to them that your responsiveness, even for questions that otherwise play no role in the teaching context. This can be done in advance, e.g. on the learning platform page of the course or by e-mail, for example by using phrases such as "Please tell me what I as a teacher should know before the course. Make sure and communicate that you will treat the received information confidentially or in which cases you want or need to call in support from superiors or colleagues. Many students feel "perceived" and activated by your responsiveness, so that they will subsequently seek and propose solutions themselves.

Please bear in mind that the concern for relatives, one's own membership of a risk group and financial hardship, increased (e.g. racist) experiences of discrimination or even fear of discrimination and violence in the family or residential environment can represent an immense emotional burden for students. Please keep the situation of international students in mind.

At the beginning of the course, proactively point out the possibility of compensating of disadvantages in general and early on. To this end, communicate your working and examination methods and the performance requirements at an early stage (information on this: " Compensation of disadvantages application for examinations and examination prerequisite ").

Make sure that students who belong to the so-called risk group can protect themselves without being forced to explain their situation.

In order to enable students in special situations and students belonging to the so-called risk group to participate in your course, offer alternative forms of participation, service provision as well as consulting hours possibilities and proactively point them out. Design teaching materials (documents, records, web offers ) (all in German) as barrier-free as possible (see below).

For those students with disabilities who currently do not have access to (student) assistants or interpreters, please search for individual solutions. These students in particular have the obligation to advance their studies due to the requirements of funding agencies.

Handouts of he University of Göttingen:



Further information and links


Remember that not all students have an optimally equipped workstation at home. Keep in mind that students may not have the necessary technical infrastructure (network connection, terminal equipment, computer capacity, operating systems, printers) and digital skills for certain tools and formats. Make sure that the tools used are as accessible as possible and do not require any special skills. Ask the Office of the Dean of Studies about possible solutions for tools that are not available.

Share your experiences, questions, problems and suggestions for solutions with your university and other teachers and exchange your ideas. Make your need for clarification and requests for support visible to your superiors. Only in this way can changes be initiated at a supra-individual level.

And finally: Have the courage to be imperfect!

Further reading:


Joint development of solutions - communication, co-determination and transparency

Crises such as the corona pandemic require coordinating actors, clear decision-making structures, rapid action and, in order to keep everyone on the same track, continuous information, communication channels and approachable contact persons. However, the development of concrete solutions and the implementation of viable measures for everyone also require participation and co-determination. Even during the Corona pandemic, equal opportunities and protection against discrimination can only be achieved jointly and with the participation and co-determination of elected representatives and interest groups, as well as in dialogue with potentially affected people. Transparency is fundamental so that everyone can contribute.

Recommendations Enlist the expertise and support of the following actors early and continuously in the development of solutions and the design of measures - within the framework of the usual committees or special working groups:

  • Equal Opportunities Officers
  • All status groups
  • Student organisations and representatives of (post-)doctoral students
  • The staff council and Representatives for Severely Handicapped Persons
  • Interest and university groups
  • The specialist departments and experts in administration, science management and technology
  • municipal actors where contextually necessary

Consider equal opportunities and protection against discrimination in new regulations (e.g. ordinances, directives etc.) in the context of the corona crisis. Engage in conversation with those who are affected by the solutions, who have to deal and work with them. Ask what is already working well and how it can be further improved, what is still missing and how information and communication can be optimised.


Due to the highly dynamic nature of the current situation, this website is regularly supplemented and updated (last update: 22.07.2020)

Please send an e-mail to doris.hayn@zvw.uni-goettingen.de if you know of any information that we can link to on this page. Let us know which topics and information we can add.