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Studierendenwerk Freiburg turns 100

The Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald is organizing an extended program to mark its anniversary

Freiburg, Sep 09, 2021

Every dish has a story to tell. One dish that has enjoyed enduring success at the University of Freiburg is rice pudding. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald’s merchandise management system until 1997, according to oral tradition it has been served since 1955. The pudding is still served at the university cafeteria each Friday, now also in a vegan version with oat milk. But the recipe for the popular dessert isn’t the only thing about the Studierendenwerk that has changed in the 100 years of its existence. On the 100th anniversary of its founding, Freiburg’s department of student social services is tracing its history with a program of events, including a commemorative publication and an exhibition.

The pleasant smell of fresh food in the lecture hall: Catholic nuns still helped out in the “Mensa academia” in the basement of the Collegiate Building for a few years after World War II. Photo: Studierendenwerk Archive, 1965

The Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald (SWFR) is organizing an extensive program to mark the occasion. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first events of the anniversary program in April were held in virtual form. From July to the anniversary week in November, however, visitors can take cafeteria tours and attend cultural events and an open-air summer festival, provided that live events remain possible. “We want to remain flexible. After all, we don't know how the situation will develop in the course of the year,” reports Renate Heyberger from the SWFR. Her team has also prepared a digital cookbook of cafeteria recipes and is organizing events like a photography competition and an international art workshop. A commemorative publication on the history of the SWFR and an accompanying exhibition form the core of the program.

History to Explore and Browse

The historian Vanessa Carboni is in charge of the anniversary project. She wrote the 166-page commemorative publication on the history of student life in Freiburg and the work of the Studierendenwerk. She also organized the exhibition, which runs from July to October in the cafeteria on Rempartstraße: Ten information panels and films inform visitors about the history of the Studierendenwerk. Carboni tries to tell the history of the organization in an entertaining yet serious way: “I want to fill people with enthusiasm about the topic with pertinent references to fashion or music, with familiar memories and witty anecdotes.”

The student aid organization “Freiburger Studentenhilfe e.V.” was founded in 1921 on the premise that it’s hard to study on an empty stomach, and even after World War II the organization continued to provide donations and government grants to students in need. Ever since, the organization has expanded its offerings in areas like student housing, food and drink, financial aid, and student life. However, its work has always depended on the will of political institutions, says Heyberger: “This will has changed a lot in the course of the past decades. The struggle against social injustice and the promotion of equal opportunities in particular have become the main focus of attention.”

Photo: Thomas Kunz

Hangover Breakfasts and Welcome Gifts

But the Studierendenwerk’s impact on student life in Freiburg has not been limited to fundamental issues. “If you take a look at the archive, you’ll find a colorful collection of anecdotes,” says the historian Carboni. For example, students in the 1920s were fond of fighting the consequences of the previous evening’s alcohol consumption with hangover breakfast of ox mouth salad. Up until the 1980s, a grilled and skewered ox was an integral part of every summer festival held by the Studierendenwerk. And in 1961, the University of Freiburg’s 10,000th student received a special welcome gift: a golden watch.

For anyone interested in Freiburg and its history, there’s no getting around the city’s higher education institutions and the Studierendenwerk, finds Heyberger: “Students have always shaped the climate of this city, and the Studierendenwerk has played an important role in this context.” Visitors can now see the importance of this Freiburg institution for themselves at various events. In the run-up to the anniversary week in November, cafeteria patrons will be treated to a true classic each Friday at the cafeteria: a free serving of rice pudding.

Patrick Siegert


The historical exhibition “Seit 100 Jahren an eurer Seite” (“100 years by your side”) runs from 2 July to 1 October 2021 at the cafeteria on Rempartstraße during regular opening hours. Admission is free of charge.

The commemorative publication may be obtained free of charge at the Studierendenwerk’s “Infoladen” while supplies last and is also available for download permanently at

Registration is required to attend some events, and in some cases admission is charged.

For more information on the anniversary program, visit: and