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Listening and taking problems seriously

The Awareness Group of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology is here to listen to students

Freiburg, Dec 07, 2017

Inappropriate and discriminatory behavior takes place everywhere – even at the university. So students of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology have set up an Awareness Group. Co-founders Freya Bartels and Josephine Deutesfeld spoke to Julia Dannehl about the initiative.

Willing to talk: Josephine Deutesfeld (left) and Freya Bartels want to offer students a safe space. Photo: Patrick Seeger

Ms Bartels, Ms Deutesfeld, what do you see as the work of the Awareness Group?

Freya Bartels: We are someone students can talk to when they experience situations that they don’t know how to cope with or just want to talk about. For instance when they experience sexual harassment or are exposed to racist abuse. We listen and take every problem seriously – without bias and in confidentiality.

Josephine Deutesfeld: The conversations can deal with all kinds of unpleasant situations, in all directions. It doesn’t have to be an actual assault. We can address any situation in which someone has felt upset. We want to offer a safe space.

There are other resources at the university that you can go to in the event of discrimination, for example. What is the advantage of the Awareness Group?

Deutesfeld: People often feel shame and are afraid of being labeled. So they don’t go to advisory services. We want to help to get over this psychological barrier.

Bartels: We’re students too, so we are on the same level as those who come to us. I think it’s easier for many of them to talk to us than a professional. However, where we have doubts then with the consent of the person affected we make contact with the institute or an advisory service.

Who can come to you and how can they contact you?

Deutesfeld: All students of Cultural Anthropology are welcome to come to us. It doesn’t matter what gender, religion, nationality or other aspect. Everyone is welcome. We can be reached by e-mail so we can – if wanted – also give advice anonymously.

Awareness Group