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Safe on Campus

How members of the university can protect themselves from attacks in public areas

Freiburg, Jul 18, 2017

Safe on Campus

Foto: Sandra Meyndt

The University of Freiburg is a comparatively safe place - but it cannot be guaranteed that even here there will never be a dangerous situation. In this video, Frank Stratz, Commissioner of the Freiburg Police Headquarters (Prevention Office), provides helpful hints for protecting yourself from attack in public spaces. Walter Willaredt, the University of Freiburg’s Deputy Executive Vice-President and head of Organizational Development and Controlling, explained to Nicolas Scherger in which places one needs to take particular care and what the university is doing to raise the level of safety on campus.


“Five rules to protect yourself against attack in public spaces” with Frank Stratz, Commissioner of the Freiburg Police Headquarters (Prevention Office)

Mr Willaredt, how dangerous is it at the University of Freiburg?

Walter Willaredt: At a conference on the subject of “Safety on Campus,” Matthias Zeiser, Vice-president of the German Police Academy, used statistics to prove that institutions of higher education are safer than other places in urban areas. And yet, we cannot rule out threats of various kinds to some 30,000 members of the university and guests from outside the university. And - we want to be an open university; exchange is our lifeblood. Nobody wants systematic checks - and given our more than 160 buildings distributed all over town, that would not even be possible.

What are the dangerous situations which could arise in everyday university life?

Many dangerous situations are potentially possible. There are, and have been, cases of sexual harassment, stalking, and bullying at our university - as well as break-ins, thefts, and vandalism. So far, we have not had any large-scale threatening scenarios, fortunately.

Walter Willaredt aims to link the various places which deal with violence prevention more closely. Photo: Thomas Kunz

Where does one have to take particular care?

Most problems arise on the one hand where crowds gather - especially at the university center - and on the other hand, at more remote places where it may be that only one member of the University may at some time be all alone in an institute. The focus is on the caretakers who, for instance, lock up in the evening. Other places we are looking at closely are the Service Center Studium, the examinations offices and secretaries’ offices, because a lot of people go through there. And then there are the lecture halls. There have been cases of events held by third parties, followed by calls for counter-demonstrations. And there too, the university as the operator has to ensure that things are safe.

What can the university contribute to safety on Campus?

It’s important to work closely with the police. We speak with them often, and we have contact persons who, for instance, keep an eye on big events at the university and are ready to respond if necessary. We have had a private security firm working with us, which can be used flexibly at different times and locations. We recently increased their presence considerably; the cost has risen to nearly one million euros annually. In addition we have special training for all university members - not just in sensitive areas.  Police commissioner Frank Stratz has organized more than 30 training sessions for more than 700 people from across the university, and the Freiburg Akademie für Universitäre Weiterbildung offers courses in self-defence, dealing with difficult persons, deescalation, and violence prevention. And finally, we have a list of all the important emergency contacts on our website at

A relaxed atmosphere - police statistics show that institutes of higher education are safer than other places in urban areas. Photo: Sandra Meyndt

What else can the university improve?

We already have many competent people and institutions which deal with professionally with violence prevention, and we aim to link them more closely. Because it is important that all relevant points are informed of any incidents - so that we can respond quickly and in an appropriate way. We founded the Safety working group to discuss areas of responsibility in the various danger scenarios as well as the necessary measures for safety on Campus; the administration provides consultation, support, and necessary feedback. We aim to keep improving when it comes to safety.