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How do we treat each other?

Statement by the President's Executive Council of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Over the past months and years, we have noticed public verbal exchanges that are unworthy of and inappropriate for Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU). This trend of abandoning the open and respectful exchange of opinions and engaging instead in polemics, insults and defamations has evidently found its way onto the university. The traces of this development are unmistakable, especially on social media.

HU stands for freedom and tolerance on the basis of mutual respect and recognition. This means abiding opposing views and transforming differences into argumentative disputes. Our university is and will remain a site of free and independent exchange. The presupposition for this is that every member of HU can express scientific views and discuss them without fear. The freedom of science is our greatest good. For this reason, the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany has published ten theses on the defence of the freedom of science. And because of this, Humboldt-Universität is also starting its own series of events this winter semester focussing on the question of the rights and responsibilities of science.

Freedom of expression encounters its limits whenever statements and claims are made that insult and defame the dignity of others. And that should apply to all members of Humboldt-Universität, regardless of who they are – whether professors or students.

We have agreed to the HU Guidelines for Mutual Respect with the goal of promoting and realising a trustworthy, constructive and appreciative cooperation supported by mutual respect for others, regardless of the location and the function. In our Mission Statement, we have made clear our commitment to a cosmopolitan university that is a meeting place for many different lifestyles and cultures and for a diversity of people, thereby creating a productive atmosphere that promotes the talents and vision of each individual.

The President's Executive Council of Humboldt-Universität takes this opportunity to sharply condemn verbal insults, defamatory statements and commentaries or tweets that call for violence. The lapses of individual members of our university cast a light on Humboldt-Universität that in no way does justice to the self-understanding of its over 35,000 students and approximately 4,000 employees. In conclusion and beyond today, we emphasize that hate speech, racism, sexism and xenophobia have no place at HU and are completely unacceptable to us.

Further Information

Mission Statement of HU