Anti-discrimination app planned
Recognising discrimination, even in its most subtle forms, is the first step, and responding adequately to it is the second. A working group at the University of Augsburg is currently developing a software-based concept to give people who have been affected themselves or who have been witnesses of discrimination the opportunity to express themselves, to be heard, to experience solidarity and to develop solutions together.
Protection against discrimination at universities
The first enshrinement of anti-discrimination can be found in the quoted Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The phrase “for example, according to ...” implies that the list of grounds that could give rise to discrimination was not considered exhaustive and was potentially subject to change. This was far-sighted, because the concrete definitions of discrimination change and differ depending on the (e. g. scientific, legal, or politically activist) context.
Discrimination manifests itself in racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and many more - in a wide variety of forms, such as stereotypical attributions and the withholding of certain positions based on them, non-recognition of one's own self-definition, devaluation, mockery, insult, denial of fundamental rights, including physical violence or lack of protection against it.
Discrimination takes place at the level of direct interpersonal interactions. It also takes place unnoticed or unintentionally, but nevertheless restricts the lives of those affected. Rejection or non-recognition of one's own identity can trigger minority stress. If this is repeated, negative experiences are anticipated and the fear of "coming out" develops.
In the form of generalised and unreflective attitudes, discrimination is also inscribed in the structure of a society and its institutions. Discrimination can thus be understood as an interlinking of socially consequential distinctions with disadvantageous structures and practices.
What can universities do against discrimination?
Anti-discrimination is a process directed against discrimination, which begins with individual and institutional self-reflection, is based on dialogue and is geared towards a constructive culture of error. The latter consists primarily of efforts to compensate for disadvantages and accessibility. But education and information work even more effectively in terms of raising awareness, changing attitudes and prevention, which is at the core of an anti-discrimination strategy. Its success is ultimately measured by the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people's lives (empowerment) and by the fact that all members of the university are involved in the change process in their own way (participation).
According to the General Equal Opportunities Act, universities are obliged to set up a complaints office for discrimination for their employees. This and the associated complaints procedure must be known and transparent to all employees. There is no such basis for complaint management for students, but the identification of clear contact persons and procedures is recommended.
Guide: Protection against discrimination in Higher Education. A practical guide for staff in Higher Education