Dear Präsidium, we have been coping with this pandemic together for almost a year. In order to succeed in this endeavor, we have made and accepted numerous serious cuts in our usual lives. Our greatest asset, our health, is worth this to us. In recent months, we have all hoped that the measures initiated in the fall would have sufficient effect, and now we have to admit that these hopes have not been fulfilled. The case numbers, and offset by this also the
While sacrifices are being made in all sectors of society in the spirit of this solidarity, TUHH nevertheless persists in large part in conducting examinations in attendance in the face of this unprecedented health emergency, rather than switching to alternatives. We find this approach unacceptable.
The majority of students disagree with your risk assessment. This is clear from both a survey and a petition with thousands of participants. Students are forced to make an immoral decision in which they have to weigh their own health and the good of society against their progress in their studies. It cannot be prevented that students will take exams even with mild symptoms because they cannot afford to put their study progress at risk.
According to the assessment of the BWFGB, the implementation of examinations with 50 persons is sustainable; the risk for infections should be very low with the hygiene and distance measures. Based on this recommendation and the obligation to offer exams, TUHH is stretching these guidelines to the maximum. If, as a result of your decision to offer exams in presence, there are chains of infection, severe courses of disease, or deaths, there will be no way to prove this and hold anyone accountable. As you have already confirmed, chains of infection would not be traceable. Here, above all, there is also a lack of decisive impetus from politicians to recognize the social obligation and to impose stricter requirements on universities.
We do not share your risk assessment primarily because infection risks do not only exist during the examination. It cannot be prevented that students will travel to the examination venue with the same buses and trains. In particular, the rented halls are places that cannot be reached by most examination participants without public transport. In the case of examinations on the premises of the TUHH, there is also the fact that the examinations take place spatially separately, but the examinees obviously still have to travel to the same buses and trains. This is exactly the kind of mixing of people that the 50-person limit was intended to prevent.
This upper limit, which represents a social trade-off between fundamental rights and protection against infection and is still intended to maintain a minimum level of freedom of assembly, is interpreted to the extreme in order to enable examinations to be held in the presence of others. We are talking here about a total volume of more than 15,000 exam attendances over two months and constant mixing of groups across the individual exams and exam days. In this context, it is particularly important not to disregard the incidence of infection due to asymptomatic courses of illness.
All this is not without alternative. There are numerous options for bypassing classroom exams, even during the regular course of the examination phase. These include, for example, online exams and so-called "take-home exams", which are already being used extensively and successfully at many universities. Numerous large, renowned universities, such as the Technical University of Berlin, have completely dispensed with face-to-face exams for the time being. Conventional alternative examination formats such as written assignments or project work could also be integrated to a greater extent. The necessary steps to make this possible for lecturers have been delayed for far too long. Both financial resources and political pressure are lacking. As of now, not a single exam has been converted to a conventional alternative exam format due to the pandemic, and take-home exams are only planned for about 15% of exams.
In conclusion, we are very well aware of the time frame in which we are moving here and that changes are facing tremendous implementation difficulties at this point in time. Over the last few months, we have repeatedly asked for a concept for audits in lockdown and to date we have not received an alternative concept. Despite this difficult time frame, we now feel compelled to publicly express our problems and ask you to act in the short term.
The AStA Chair and the student representatives from the Academic Senate