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Fair, Inclusive, Non-Discriminatory: University of Heidelberg Steps Up Commitment to “Acting in Partnership”

The Senate guideline "Acting in Partnership" has been in force for 5 years at the University - Evaluation and improvements now under way

The Senate guideline "Acting in Partnership” has now been in force for five years at the University of Heidelberg. It contains a collection of guiding principles to be observed in interpersonal contact at the University with a view to establishing and safeguarding a congenial working atmosphere. Above all, it emphasises the reprehensibility of discrimination in whatever form: "All members of the University are responsible for ensuring that there shall be no discrimination on  the grounds of disability, colour, ethnic origin, sex or rank, no exploitation of dependent conditions in education, training or at the workplace, and no instances of sexual harassment. Occurrences of this kind are to be regarded as an infringement of rights and treated accordingly.” Following the publication of the "Acting in Partnership” guideline in October 2002 a number of other institutions of higher education in Germany have modelled their official response to the issue on this document.

All the principles set out in the document aim at creating an atmosphere of constructive and life-enhancing co-existence in research and teaching at the University. Most of the members of the University take these recommendations seriously and act upon them. There have however been occasional exceptions to this rule.

After this five-year period a Rectorate commission has now embarked on an evaluation of the outcomes so far. How have the principles set out in the guideline been implemented? What has been the impact of the recommendations made there on everyday practice? What improvements have been registered in interpersonal contact situations in education and research?

The impact has definitely been salutary in dealing with concrete incidents. Cooperation between advisory services, the working and teaching context and the University administration is both confidential and effective. Victims of discrimination and/or harassment are given the greatest possible support, perpetrators are dealt with unsparingly. This response is designed to indicate in no uncertain terms the rejection of unacceptable forms of behaviour and action.

Within the course of the present summer term the commission will collect and evaluate these outcomes and elaborate suggestions for further improvements in implementing the guideline. In addition, an internet website for University members is also to be established in summer 2007 simplifying access to advisory and support services in this area and reinforcing awareness of the principles set out in the guideline.

The guideline can be found at

Please address any inquiries to
Senni Hundt
Deputy CAO of the University of Heidelberg

Journalists should address their inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Editor: Email
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