Laudation for the award ceremony: Prof. Dr. Marie-Luise Rathers (Institute for Philosophy and Life Design-Ethics-Religious Studies at the University of Potsdam)
Dear Mrs. Guzmann, dear Mr. Meile, dear Christoph, dear attendees,
Actually, you all want to know now what is in the package. So do I. Actually, I just wanted to say today that I am very happy about the award for Christoph Schulte and Ljuba Kirjuchina. The award is intended to honor members of the university who, and I quote from the announcement, "demonstrate a special attitude towards discrimination in your courses by pointing out mechanisms of exclusion and addressing diversity." end of quote. [...]
We all appreciate diversity as a cornerstone of our democracy, but beyond all creative divergences, I think we can agree on one thing: that we have one of the most beautiful university locations in the world in the Neue Palais. While the Freie Universität is rusting away, everything here is largely well-kept. Actually, the only thing I've always missed is something like a beer garden, where you can talk with colleagues and students about the day's teaching experience, complain about the lax Corona measures of the university administration, or make plans for future projects. There was no such thing, but there was the train from Berlin. It's always crowded and therefore not nearly as cozy as a pub, but you meet colleagues. On Thursdays, I always met Christoph Schulte. In the week after the disgusting attack of 09 October 2019 in Halle, however, he was very agitated. You remember, the right-wing extremist attacker had shot two people, seriously injured two other people and traumatized many Jewish people who wanted to celebrate Yom Kippur in the synagogue of Halle. Only a very sturdy door prevented something even more horrific. Christoph was shocked and wanted to do something against racism and anti-Semitism. "This is especially your LER people's business" he said. "You should train students against the brown muck that still clogs so many minds." Right you are, dear Christoph. But what subject likes to give away credit points? "Go to Ljuba Kirjuchina from Studium Plus," I suggested. "She's a visionary with an effervescent mind, an open heart, and exceptional power of speech. She knows God and the world, and she certainly has an idea. Ms. Kirjuchina is unfortunately ill today, but fortunately at that time, she was on the rampage and she had an idea. She proposed a lecture series for Studium Plus and thus the dream team of the University of Potsdam in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism was born. The two of them got themselves and Professor Botsch from the Emil Julius Gumbel Research Center for Anti-Semitism and Right-Wing Extremism on board as consultants and then they got going and organized an interdisciplinary lecture series on the topic of "Strategies against Racism and Anti-Semitism for School, University, Work and Everyday Life". It was to be about racist and anti-Semitic exclusionary mechanisms, with a particular focus on the everyday mechanism that the excluders may not even be aware of. Underlying this was the belief that, and I quote from the concept, "the classification of people as different and alien could be misused to provide moral absolution for discrimination and acts of violence" end of quote. The disgusting crime of Halle is one example. Unfortunately, countless other examples could be found and also the approval ratings of a certain party speak a clear language. Ljuba Kirjuchina and Christoph Schulte were able to win an impressive variety of well-known scientists from the field of racism and anti-Semitism research and from related fields. Because Corona intervened, the lecture series unfortunately had to be held online, but nevertheless there were almost 90 regular participants in the winter semester 2020/21. This is clear evidence of their quality; the lecture series struck a nerve. The discussions were highly emotional and heated in places, but that is in the nature of things. Precisely because it stirs up, provokes, affects personally, it is so important that there is such a lecture series at our university and that it becomes firmly established. Christoph and Ljuba have also made sure of that. On May 19, the university administration signed a letter of intent to continue. And with the Center for Teacher Education, a working group on "Diversity and Antidiscrimination in Teacher Education" was founded to establish corresponding content in teacher education programs. If that's not sustainability... But I have three more pieces of good news. First, the university administration has now adjusted the lax Corona measures. Second, there is now a beer garden at Sanssouci station after all. And third, and most importantly, the lecture series will continue in the summer semester. I am very much looking forward to it and will definitely be there. Thank you for your great initiative. Dear Christoph and in absence also dear Ljuba, get well soon, and I think you really deserve the award. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart on behalf of everyone here.
Video: 2021 event review