A challenge for the new representatives in the Senate
Excellent studies despite Corona
Henry and Matthias, what do you think is the most important topic for TUM students at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester?
Henry: I guess that the students are most concerned about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and its impact on teaching. This winter semester will be very different from the many years before – especially for the freshers. In addition to the stress at the beginning of a new phase of life and the already existing uncertainty, it is now a real challenge to get to know one's fellow students, to join learning groups, and to make new groups of friends.
Matthias: I agree. For the coming winter semester 2020/21, overcoming the Corona crisis will certainly play a major role. In the meantime, we have developed adequate strategies to make studying in a pandemic possible. Now, we have to integrate our first semester students at the beginning of the semester, because networking and exchange with fellow students is essential for successful studies.
What are your experiences with digital teaching so far?
Henry: My own experiences are mixed. Some of the courses have been transitioned to digital teaching quite well – with a lot of effort since the summer semester – and digital teaching works fine. However, other courses did not really cope well with the changeover. I was able to take all my exams in attendance, but in one case only after I emphatically reminded the lecturer of the obligation to offer an alternative attendance exam. This was not a big problem for me, as I am well informed. But many students are not, due to insufficient communication and constantly changing information.
Matthias: So far, my personal experiences were positive. The courses have been transferred into an extensive digital portfolio. In addition to recorded lectures and scripts, there are question-and-answer sessions and guest lectures. In a situation like this, it is obvious that not everything will work out perfectly from the start. In exchange with the lecturers, suggestions to optimize the teaching were heard and also implemented. For the future, we could further optimize digital teaching – especially in terms of platforms, for example by using BigBlueButton.
What motivates you to get involved in university politics alongside your studies?
Henry: I joined my student association in my first semester, out of my own interest and as I was elected as a semester representative. That's where I got involved with university politics. Step by step, I took on more and more university policy tasks. In my fourth term of office, I am now a member of the council of the faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, I served as a student representative in eight appointment procedures, I am a member of the study allowance commission, and I was deputy chairman of the Student Council and the student representation. My motivation to keep on going is mainly due to the fact that I have the feeling that it is possible to shape the future as a student representative at TUM – and especially in my faculty.
Matthias: University policy thrives on the commitment of all student representatives. It is generally important that the students get involved in shaping university life. I personally enjoy taking on this responsibility because our work is very close to my heart and I enjoy working with other students.
What are your goals for this term of office? What are you most looking forward to?
Henry: My biggest project for this term of office is to finally give new impetus to the discussion about affordable student housing. With the move of the EI to Garching, the Garching campus will be the largest at TUM. Unfortunately, there is currently hardly any campus life apart from teaching and research. I want to do everything possible to initiate new student housing projects on the Garching campus that are more than just a drop in the ocean: I have a housing complex in mind that will offer 3000 to 5000 places for students, directly on campus.
Of course, in addition to this long-term issue, we must not forget the challenges in our day-to-day business. I am particularly committed to ensuring that TUM will evaluate the digital teaching tools of the summer semester. In particular, I am against further use of the examination monitoring software Proctorio at TUM.
Matthias: From my point of view, it is particularly important to continue to provide our students with an excellent study environment, despite Corona. A lot of work was already done in this area last semester, and this will also be the case in the coming semester. Apart from the aspect of teaching, the social component is very important. We should give students platforms to get to know each other – for example with new ideas such as digital workshops.
TUM has had a new President for a year now. What do you wish for from him?
Henry: I would like Prof. Hofmann to listen more to the different status groups (professors, research assistants, non-academic staff, students) at TUM. Especially with regard to the planned reform of the Bavarian Higher Education Act and its implementation at TUM, I see an enormous need for consultation and explanation. Furthermore, I would like to see clearer and more open communication, especially with regard to the restructuring of TUM from faculties to schools – and also with regard to the plans on how to deal with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic at TUM.
Matthias: I can only agree here. We are currently facing very big challenges. Dealing with the pandemic and the restructuring of the faculties into schools are crucial tasks. I would like to see good and dynamic cooperation in order to make the right decisions in these volatile times, for the benefit of the students and all employees.
(Interview: Verena Meinecke)
Matthias Ostermeier (28) is from Bayreuth and a student of Food Technology in his 3rd semester. He has been active in the FS LemiBrau since the beginning of his studies and was also its first board member. Contact: senat or @fs.tum.dematthias.ostermeier. @fs.tum.de
Henry Winner (23) is from Middle Franconia and currently in the 3rd Master’s semester of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology. In addition to his involvement in university politics, he is a founding member and technician of the Munich Theater Association “Dramatische Gestalten e.V.” and is involved in the event technology department of the student representation. Contact: senat or @fs.tum.dehenry.winner. @fs.tum.de