Who’s the cats that won’t cop out?

And who’s calling out cops over catcalls?

Augsburg’s kind of a small, quiet city – if you’re going to call it a city at all. Not the place you’d think globally received activism is happening. So when a local Instagram blog somewhere in the 500-like margin suddenly receives over 10,000 upvotes for a single post, is endorsed by a New York-based blog with almost 200,000 followers and reported on by the Süddeutsche, you know things are either going exceptionally well – or shit’s hit the fan.

Sorry, I live behind the moon. Come again?

We’re pretty sure you already have some basic idea of the issues we’re going to address in this article – and if you don’t, you might want to take a closer look at your social media habits. But let’s recap, shall we? Last Wednesday, December 09th 2020, a new post was uploaded to the Augsburg-based Instagram blog @catcallsofsaugsburg. As per usual, the photo showed a catcall, an unwanted sexual statement experienced by a woman. The perpetrator’s exact words had been written on the ground in chalk in the exact place where the catcall had happened – at a very central location, the Rathausplatz – by the activists behind @catcallsofaugsburg to raise awareness. They’ve been doing this for a while now, so what’s new? Well, as followers were informed in the caption, several police officers and fire fighters came up to the scene with a fire truck shortly after the writing had been created and flushed the whole thing away with a fire hose.

So what’s catcalling?

Catcalls entail sexually charged comments, loud whistles, or inappropriate touching, usually performed by men on passing women, (supposedly) gay men or trans people. They may be paired with discrimination of people with disabilities or – as was the case in our example – POC (People of Color), among other groups. The question why far too many men engage in this heavy-handed behavior comes up a lot. Now, there are a range of explanations: on the one hand, toxic masculinity still has a huge impact on our society and seems to lead men to all kinds of inappropriate behavior, even against better knowledge. On the other hand, women are still being sexually objectified to the point where catcalling is received as some sort of twisted compliment by some: “Don’t make such a fuss and be happy about it,” victims are often told. Er, no. Street harassment is everything but a compliment. A compliment is an expression of respect and affection.

Catcalling, on the other hand, is harassment that can instill fear. Some victims suffer long-lasting psychological wounds from it. It is a severe humiliation which imposes male dominance and superiority over women and minorities, often intended to make the victim feel powerless and out of control. Catcalling is a global problem; that’s why @catcallsofxyz blogs were created, a social feminist movement that originated in New York City and has spread from there to many cities around the world. By chalking up all the rude and inappropriate comments and incidents on the street these blogs provide a platform to those who are affected by street harassment – and initiate public debate.

Take this as the trigger warning of the century – it’s getting ugly!

There had been another, earlier post published on @catcallsofaugsburg two days before – i.e. on Monday, December 7th. It showed the fire truck in action and was followed by a few paragraphs of explanatory text in the description. Apparently, passers-by had called the police because the writing was irritating them. Now, it did include some very nasty words, was evidently sexist and even contained a racial slur. However, judging from the actual photo that was uploaded two days later, the purpose should have been more than obvious all along. The writing included an anti-racist hashtag, the name of the blog and a huge trigger warning at a very prominent position. The word fuck and the n-word were both censored, using asterisks. Evidently not the kind of lengths you’d go to if you were just a sexist Neo-Nazi trying to make people feel bad, right?

To some, it wasn’t that evident. According to @catcallsofaugsburg’s Instagram captions, a climate activist camping nearby had to inform the police about the purpose of the writing and the movement behind it. Still, they proceeded to call several colleagues and, since said activist refused to remove the writing (not sure why that should have been his job in the first place), the firefighters. So far, so exaggerated. Since this kind of media attention can be very uncomfortable even to an anonymous victim and create further trauma, @catcallsaugsburg got back to the person that had experienced the catcall and made sure they still wanted it published. Two days later, the actual photo was uploaded. As of now, both posts have been liked several thousand times. Seems fair to say a lot of people don’t agree with the procedure, including, for instance, the slightly more popular @catcallsofnyc. So where’s the problem?

Mistakes were made…

Now, there seem to be several dimensions to this event, and it’s probably safe to say that more than a few people were implicated in one way or another. First off, there’s the passers-by. Let’s take a walk in their shoes, shall we? You’re walking past some writing on the ground, now you’re stopping to read it, oh look! Profanity, sexist language, a racial slur… Irritating for sure, we’ll give you that. But you’d probably read the whole thing, wouldn’t you? At least if you’re going to call the police over it, right? Do that, and you’ll find out: there’s a trigger warning. Words have been censored. An anti-racist hashtag has been added. An Instagram blog has been tagged. There’s zero immediate danger to you, so why not get out your phone for a bare minimum of research first, if you’re still not getting it? Same goes for the involved police officers, who had been informed about the purpose of the whole thing. It’s very clearly feminist activism; that should be easy enough to understand.

Of course, that’s the nice way of reading it, assuming there was zero bad will, only lack of information and poor judgment. But there’s another, more uncomfortable reasoning: maybe some passers-by simply couldn’t stand being confronted with the discrimination that women and POC face daily and felt they couldn’t just ignore the whole thing and move on. Maybe they didn’t like the idea of victims speaking up. Maybe cracks were starting to form in their bubble, but they wouldn’t allow it to burst. Why get informed about discrimination and, crazy suggestion, learn something from it, when you could just shoot the messenger instead? Better call the police and have them remove all traces of the traumatic event you‘ve just had to endure, right? Luckily, they’re ready to help.

… followed by more mistakes…

And then, of course, what’s up with three police cars and a fire truck? If you’re just going to remove chalk – crazy suggestion: use a bucket of water, not a fire truck. Literal kids use these things on asphalt or concrete, and they’re gone with the first drop of rain. So are we talking about a waste of taxpayers’ money? Yeah, but there’s also the attention a fire truck in front of the town hall’s going to create – meaning there’s the danger of attracting additional bystanders, apart from the overly large number of officers and firefighters already involved in the whole affair. All of these people will end up spending an unnecessarily long time huddled together in a mask-only zone, while a pandemic’s going on. All of that, just to show some presence? Totally worth it. A victim goes through all the original trauma of an unwanted encounter, risks bringing it all up again by contacting anti-catcalling activists, tries to make a statement by sharing their story… and then, that statement’s literally going down the gutter, because some bystander who’s probably never had to endure any of this themselves is feeling uneasy. By removing the chalk, the perpetrators are not only protected; the victims are also actively deprived of their voices! What a slap in the face.

…. and they couldn’t leave it at that, either.

And here come slaps no. 2 & 3: a reply by the police and an official statement by Augsburg’s mayor Eva Weber that are visible on @catcallsofaugsburg. Now, it was to be expected a police statement would be supportive of the police, and it’s a fairly polite and informative message overall – which is precisely why the final paragraph sticks out like a sore thumb: “the incident quoted in the writing – should it actually have taken place as described – constitutes a criminal offense that we […] would like to follow up on.” What’s with the relativization? Is that some sort of police language, some (clumsy) way of avoiding a premature assignment of guilt to a suspect who’s not yet been proven guilty? As in calling someone a suspect instead culprit to make sure everybody gets a fair trial? But there’s no suspect anyway, and there’s nothing premature in saying a “quoted incident” constitutes a crime. Calling it a quoted incident already implies you’re working with what you’ve heard, really. Why be so upfront in saying there’s (major) doubts about the truthfulness of a report that was never even filed? Could that be a cover-up for the fact that hardly any catcaller is ever punished or even identified? And by the way, maybe victims would feel safer reporting offenses if you weren’t eliminating their public statements.

It’s also a crying shame that Eva Weber didn’t have in her to dissociate herself decisively and vigorously from the police’s behavior in her official statement. Instead, she only fed the press with a half-baked statement that’ll, ultimately, change nothing. She also didn’t drop a single remark about the racial slur being used, only referring to respect for women in very general terms. Unfortunately, this further proves how too many politicians and government institutions are losing their grip on our reality and the current, modern problems of our communities.

Did we mention mistakes?

What a double standard: We can protect our concrete from chalk but can’t protect victims from catcalling. We pay attention to the sensibilities of bystanders but not to victims when they speak out. What’s up with that? If we want to address this mismatch, we need social movements like catcallsofxyz! We need people to start taking the stories seriously as well as paying attention and listening to them. It goes without saying that the solution of this problem is not reinforcing public police presence or implementing short-sighted laws. The source of the problem is deeply rooted in society: the patriarchy – you knew it had to come up somewhere. We must disintegrate harmful structural and constitutional thinking patterns by developing media and public education initiatives to change attitudes and behaviors. We need to publicly demonstrate intolerance for sexual harassment of all kinds. And we shouldn’t have to waste time justifying our anger and our activism!

A huge thanks to the activists behind @catcallsofaugsburg. You really are the cats that won’t cop down. Keep up the amazing work (that we all wish you didn’t have to do)!

Authors: Niklas Schmidt & Mariana Silva Lindner

Just around the corner! – Moving from small village life to Augsburg

It all begins with finally finishing school and being able to really start your own life. After you leave secondary school, your classmates scatter in the most diverse directions. Many are taking a gap year to discover at least a little more of that world that awaits us out there. Others start an apprenticeship and a considerable number enrolls in university. No matter what choice you make to hit off you’re your “new” life – it most certainly always involves changes. A major one that many students undergo is moving out.

How I ended up moving out

After starting university, I realised quickly that commuting to Augsburg every day wasn’t a permanent solution. That’s why, within the first week, I started searching for flats. However, I didn’t give the choice of moving a lot of thought. Neither did I know what it would be like as I grew up in a village. Not having my own car had made it quite difficult getting to the closest train station every day, since it was still 20 km away and the bus system in rural areas is exceptionally obsolete. I wasn’t able to properly get to know my fellow students or take part in any spontaneous hangouts, since mostly I had to catch the train and worry about how I would get home. I’m also fairly sure all of you who moved out are familiar with the process: it takes a little time to hunt down the right flat. However, before I knew it, I got accepted and packed up my stuff a week later.

“You don’t need to move out”

Family and friends didn’t like the thought of me “leaving again” after I had just returned from a year abroad. I got used to comments like “But it’s just around the corner, you can commute easily!” or “Why should you move, you just came back?”. Nevertheless, I started to gather my suitcases, books and an inflatable mattress. On the one hand, the journey to Augsburg takes only about one hour from my little village – depending on how often you get stuck behind tractors or crammed school buses. Not to mention the roadworks you’ll have to bypass on the way. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to get to know my flatmates, have a new home and an incredibly short journey of 15 minutes to university!

All the things that are so much easier

Of course, I’d known Augsburg before becoming a university student. Over the years I had gone there for shopping trips with friends. I had even been to the university library the odd time for when I had to do research for my term paper back in school. As time passed and I got to spend more and more time exploring the old city’s charm, there were many things I wasn’t familiar with before. The following thought might sound funny to some of you: being able to take a bus or tram without having to wait for hours was merely fascinating to me! Or that I could simply go to the supermarket around the corner if I ran out of milk. I mean, how awesome is going to a bar on Friday night and not having to make it for the last night bus? Those are the things that weren’t imaginable for me to be real at all. You’re baking on a Saturday night and you run out of flour? Too bad, the little dairy is closed, and the next supermarket is 15 minutes away by car. Oh, you missed the school bus in the morning? Unlucky. Your last period on Wednesday afternoon is cancelled? You’ll just have to wait for the next school bus in an hour, no problem.

It’s not worse, just different

Some of those “experiences” might sound abnormal. I’ve even met a considerable number of people that were terrified of being “cut off”.  Humans have an astounding ability to adapt to circumstances, hence going grocery shopping once a week was totally normal for me. Even though I wouldn’t need to buy my food for an entire week all at once now, I still find myself in those habits I grew up with. I surely had to learn a lot about “city life”, even if it were just the simple things like being able to use public transport at any time or going grocery shopping by bike. Although I’m sure there’s many more students that have made similar positive experiences by moving to Augsburg, having grown up in a village was quite an adventure and I’m lucky to call that place my home.

author: Anna Schmitt

Enchilada during the Corona Crisis – An Interview with an employee

Coronavirus has hit us all very hard. It started with a couple of cases in China and, suddenly, the whole world was on lockdown. Among other things, restaurants had to close their doors overnight. I wanted to know what has changed for the staff of restaurants and bars, so, I went downtown to talk to an employee of the Enchilada. Her name is Lisa and she has been working as a waitress there for one and a half years now. Due to the loosening of regulations for social distancing, we were able to have a face-to-face interview in the restaurant.

For those of you who don´t know the Enchilada, here’s a quick briefing: The Enchilada is a Mexican restaurant and bar in Augsburg’s city centre. It’s a member of the Enchilada Franchise Group, just like the Ratskeller, Dean & Davids, Aposto, and many more.

What did a usual day of work look like before Corona? How many people were here? How many employees? 

That depends on the day. On business days, there were only up to three waiters, one or two bartenders, and three people in the kitchen. The weekends were a whole different situation: we have seven different areas in the restaurant itself and ideally, there is a waiter for every area. On top of that, there were five or six bartenders. Even in the kitchen, we added an extra dishwasher. So, is a lot happening here on weekends.

Ok, thank you for that insight. Let´s talk about the present. A lot has changed, obviously. Which precautionary measures did you take, especially in the beginning?

Everything happened so fast. I was working on Saturday and by Tuesday we had to shut down completely. None of us could attend to work for four weeks. Our boss managed all the orders via Boxbote together with just one cook. After a while, he decided to join Lieferando, and customers could book their meals over the phone and fetch them later. From that moment forward we had one additional waiter in here – two on the weekends – and three people in the kitchen. We’ve also changed our business hours: normally, they would be from 6 pm until 1 am, but now we work in two shifts. One from 11 am until 2 pm and another one from 5 pm until 10 pm.

How was the mood among the employees, especially when you weren´t going to work? Did you know how it would all turn out?

Right at the beginning when we couldn´t do anything – not even leave the house – we met on Zoom. As nobody knew how the whole situation would develop, we were a bit worried. I can´t speak for my colleagues but I was really concerned after a while, especially after the situation got a little bit out of hand and the media reports went crazy. But now I work on a regular basis – although it´s not as frequent as it used to be – and I am grateful for that. Because we met on Zoom, nobody was really intimidated by the whole situation.

So, your boss didn´t have to fire anyone? They´re all still here?

Yes, he didn´t have to. We made it through fully staffed.

That´s very good. Well, Lisa, I heard that the Enchilada gives away vouchers for customers who fetch their food all by themselves. Is that correct?

Exactly.

Are there any other offers?

We’ve created some packages for Lieferando. Those are whole menus the costumers can order. On Boxbote we put up three different cocktail packages. On top of that, we started a prize game and put a ticket in every bag. Right at the beginning, we had some complimentary gifts, but they were gone pretty fast.

Regarding the cocktails: I can´t quite figure out how it works. Aren´t cocktails supposed to be iced? Doesn´t that ice melt until it reaches the customer?

That works well. Lieferando’s and Boxbote’s radius for delivery isn´t that big. Especially for longer distances, Lieferando goes by car. And we only finish creating the cocktails when the food is ready, and the delivery man is in the restaurant.

There were no complaints about melted Margaritas?

Not that I would know of. As I said, we finish them last and from there on everything should happen very fast.

Ok, we´re about to come towards the end of this interview. Slowly but steadily restaurants get to open again. What precautions are going to be made? Will there be a bouncer? Do you know anything about that?

I know a little bit. For a long time, our boss just wanted to wait because there were new restrictions every second day. But now we know more. We had a bouncer on the weekends even before Corona. On top of that, we have to check IDs because – from what it looks like – only two households are allowed to meet. But as the number of people at one table is limited to four, we need to check if they´re really just from two different households. As I said, there will be a bouncer on weekends. If there are people sitting at the tables outside, they don´t need to wear masks. But as soon as they get up, go to the toilet or even just go inside the restaurant, they have to put them on. Plus, there always has to be enough distance between costumers at different tables. All employees must slip on their masks just like in any other business right now.

Does the mask bother you?

It’s not the end of the world, but it is exhausting. The employees in the kitchen have a hard time understanding the point of it all. And I think even our costumers will have trouble picking up what we said. But, like I said, it isn’t tragic. As long as I can work, I am happy.

Ok. So, now to my last question: What did you learn for the future? Do you may keep any of your innovations for the long term?

We will definitely stay on Lieferando for a while. Plus, we will have different business hours. We used to open at 6 pm. Now we will be accessible for you at 11 am so people who work in the area can have their lunch break here. Until 8 pm we will grant access to the outdoor area. Afterward, we will stay in the restaurant for two more hours to take care of the orders from Lieferando and Boxbote.

Lovely. We’ve now reached the end of our interview. Thank you very much, Lisa. I wish you all the best.

Thank you.

I talked to Lisa off record for a while after the interview and she told me that she really looks forward to meeting some costumers again at the restaurant and interact with them. The outdoor area of the restaurant is very inviting and – although it is in the city centre – very quiet. So, you should definitely check it out. 

The interview took place at the end of May, so some of the information may be outdated by the time you’re reading this article.

author: Celine Bohner

A look behind the curtain – The student union at the University of Augsburg

Student unions are as old as universities themselves. Even during a worldwide pandemic they are not keeping quiet. I had the honor to talk to Karolin Daiber, a member of the student union “Fachschaft Lehramt”, about planning parties, raising your voice and what’s so special about 6pm on a Friday night.

1. Why did you decide to become a part of the student union?

Even back in school I always liked to be part of a school group to help other students and to plan some events – just being part of a group where you have a team spirit. When I started to go to college, I wanted to do something similar, so I decided to become a part of the student union and I’ve really liked it so far.

2. What are your main tasks?

That’s actually quite difficult to answer because we actually don’t have main tasks for everyone. It’s more like, if you’re interested in joining some activities or want to help plan some events you can just join these smaller groups. That’s actually something I really like because you can do a lot of different things.

3. What are your favorite small group activities?

I really enjoy planning our regular semester opening party called “Lehramtsparty”, and also the orientation days for the freshmen because you have to work in a team and your plan has to be really good in order for it to work. You put a lot of effort in but you get a lot of fun back and also a lot of happy students.

4. Are you rather a pragmatic or an idealistic person when it comes to solving problems?

I’m definitely a pragmatic person, unlike some other people. That’s another thing I really like about the student union, though: you get to know so many different and interesting people. All of them have their own way of thinking and solving problems. You have to learn to be patient. I think that’s always a good thing to learn for life.

5. What is an event that will most likely always remain in your memory?

Definitely the semester opening party we host. It’s such a great experience. It’s so cool to come back from your semester holidays, back from working and doing all kinds of things to then see all of your friends again. You can all party together and everyone is excited. On the other hand, I will definitely remember the orientation days for the freshmen, that we offer before the winter semester. We go to a little house in a village close to Augsburg and try to help them get into all the college stuff you have to know, like how to create your timetable and where to go for specific questions. And to get to know each other, of course. We stay there for five days and have two different groups and afterwards, we are basically wrecked… But it’s always so much fun and the freshmen are always very grateful that they get some help, too. It’s really worth it.

6. Would you consider the student union that you are part of political?

I would definitely say so. I think we are political because we are role models, kind of. When we post something on social media, a lot of people will see it so we always check beforehand if it fits our political views or not. And sometimes we have a big discussion because we have different opinions. Also, when students come to us with their problems and we try to help them there’s always some interaction with our president and professors. We always have to think about how we’ll approach them, and we have to consider who to talk to first. In that sense, we’re definitely political.

7. Has the group ever voted for a decision that you couldn’t really support?

I don’t think that has happened so far, because I’m pretty sure it would have bothered me otherwise. It’s really an important question to keep in mind. You should always stand up if you feel like something’s not right. I think as long as there is the possibility to talk and discuss things in the group, it’s fine. It’s always good for yourself to get different views from other people to learn something and think again about your own opinion.

8. Last but not least, tell us a funny inside story on what goes on behind the scenes of our university.

I really had to think about this for a while. I feel like what’s maybe interesting is the following: We have our weekly meetings on Friday afternoon and often, we order some pizza or pasta afterwards and we always have to wait until 6pm because that’s when the happy hour starts in the Unikum. The meetings are always a lot of work because you have all kinds of things to do and it can be chaotic with that many people. After that you feel really good, though, because you have the weekend ahead of you and you’re waiting for pizza with some really cool people. I’m pretty sure we support the Unikum quite a bit with our money.

author: Tabea Becker

Questions to the Augsburg Magazine eMAG

  1. What exactly is the course called and how does it fit into the study program? What English skills are being covered? And how do you learn the required writing skills?

The course has a rather unspectacular name: it goes by Integrated Language Skills (LPO 2012) / Integrated Language Skills 2 (LPO 2008) (eMag). eMAG is part of a module that consists of three courses, the other two being Effective Writing and Übersetzung Englisch-Deutsch (1). eMAG fits in here as an opportunity for students to put the skills they have learned in those other courses to practical use in an authentic, english-speaking environment. The eMAG course itself is there to improve students’ writing skills outside of the usual term paper style. We try to convey a more informal writing style in general.

  • eMAG has a very project-based way of practising writing skills. Would you say this is more promising for participants than a traditional class?

I’m going to go with the diplomatic route here and say that a good mix between a theoretical approach and a practical one is very useful. You can’t learn a language simply by reading about it. You have to use it to actual get better at it. And a part of that certainly is writing, too, in all its forms. But at the same time, it’s also necessary to have a good foundation to start working on a project like eMAG. You need to have some basic understanding of how to structure your writing, that there are differences between writing in German and English – and that does include formal differences. And that is something we wouldn’t be able to do in just one term with one session a week. In a nutshell, I’d say that eMAG is a great opportunity if you have the necessary foundations.

  • For us, organisational tasks took up a lot of time and it wasn’t quite clear who was responsible for what. Also, what presented a bit of a struggle was that our course is supposed to teach writing skills before all else but the magazine focus didn’t allow much time for that. How do you handle organizational tasks within a writing course?

It’s good to see that similar projects are struggling with similar problems. There is no way around it and I was lucky enough to join the course at a time when a lot of these issues had already been dealt with and solved. There already was a good routine that people before me had set up. The trick is to give the course a real project structure with different layers of who would be responsible for what – teams for layouting and media and advertisement to just name a few. Within these groups, the regular members, who take the course for credit points, will mostly focus on writing and only take on smaller tasks to help create the final magazine. The experienced staff, on the other hand, get clear assignments on what needs to be done. In the end, the editor-in-chief has the fun task of managing and overseeing all those groups and bringing everything together.

  • Who is eligible to join the class, i.e. students of what semester or year of the study program? How many are you in total and what is the ratio between students who do the course voluntarily and those who do it for credit points? Do both of these groups participate in the same way?

There is no real condition set for joining the class, especially if you’re studying English: if you need the credit points, who are we to tell you you can’t come? We do prefer for the people to have completed the writing part of the module beforehand, or at least to be taking that class in the same term, but we can’t enforce that. Naturally, though, most people are doing it this way because following the module structure makes the most sense. In turn, that means that most new members are in or around their 3rd semester. In terms of how many people join, there’s some fluctuation: there are usually more participants during winter terms, but it’s roughly 20-25 people in general. Only few of these aren’t English students – although I wouldn’t say there’s a difference in participation. On top of that, there is my team which consists of seven people at the moment. These tend to be people who have participated before and can’t get any more credit points. They are just there for a good time.

  • In our course, we tried to assign different roles to different people. However, we didn’t define clearly enough what each role’s job was, leading to the point where some people did much more work than others. What roles do you have within your team? And what tasks does each role involve? Is the work distributed in a rather even way, or are there also differences between the work load of different people?

I think this little chart from our guidelines does a better job at visualizing this than I could in words:
The new members are being split into either working on layouts or promoting the magazine, apart from working on their articles. Both teams are supervised by team leaders who know how everything is supposed to be structured and help out wherever necessary. If even they don’t know the solution, it’s usually my part to figure something out. Problem solver would probably be one of the better descriptions for what I do. There is a lot of organizing things behind the scenes, too, of course: finding printers, organizing everything to be in line with our university and making decisions on how to go forward or cutting inappropriate articles, though we do try to avoid that at all costs. Nonetheless, it happens every once in a while.

We struggled a lot to find a good balance between the workload of the layout team compared to the media team. Layouting is just such a time-consuming but necessary part of it all that it makes it difficult to cut down on it, yet the media team usually doesn’t face quite as many tasks throughout the term. Last term we struck a good balance by giving each member of the Media team the task to write one additional article which would be published on our website while the layout team didn’t get that assignment. This lead to the workload being evened out for the most part.

Apart from that, there’s Writing Support, a team that consists of three experienced eMAGgers. Their job is to correct early drafts and give feedback, before the final draft goes to the course coordinator.

  • What does your lecturer do exactly? What is their role in the production of each magazine? And how do they grade each person’s work?

The entire course is supposed to be run by students. But as we wouldn’t be allowed to give people credit, Mr. Jehle is the one who’s in charge officially. Until last term, it was Mr. James, who founded eMAG. The lecturer’s job is to organise exams and talk to the higher-ups of our university in case there are issues we couldn’t solve by ourselves. They also correct final article drafts so we do get some professional feedback.


As for grading, that’s a mystery, even to me. I think it’s really just magic… Ideally, though, we would love to be able to grade the work during the course and skip the exam entirely, but as we are part of the entire three-part module structure, we have to offer an exam which is also created by our course coordinator. Since the class takes up more time than a regular course, though, we try not to put additional work on participants for exam preparation. The aim is to create an exam that can be answered relatively easily by any regular class member.

  • We heard that your editors are meeting every week with the lecturer – what is being discussed in those weekly meetings?

Another rather boring answer: it’s just to catch up on things that are going on. Making sure nothing’s being overlooked or forgotten about. Mr. James’ experience in this matter was invaluable. He didn’t encounter most problems for the first time, so he knew how to handle things if something went awry. And there tends to be at least one thing each term that does.

  • How do you organize the advertisement for your magazine?

At this point, we have a few contract partners that have been advertising in eMAG for a long time, which makes the process a lot easier: they know exactly what needs to be done once we come around and ask if they’re still interested. The process consists of two steps: first off, we need to get the contracts signed by our partners who then in turn will send us their ad. This ad is then being handled like a regular magazine page and copied into inDesign. After that, we need to deal with the entire bureaucratic process of handing in the contracts to our university. The people in charge then check if they are all legally printable and if any mistakes have been made. If everything is found to be in order, they write the bill.

  • Our first magazine didn’t have a general topic, and everyone just wrote about whatever they were interested in. However, we think it will be better if our magazine has that kind of topic for each semester’s edition from now on. How do you decide on a topic for each term?

That’s one of the funnier parts of class! During one of the last sessions each term we dedicate one hour to brainstorming ideas on what could be interesting as a topic. It must be a topic that hasn’t been covered yet, of course. Once we have a list of potential topics, everyone gets to vote on what will be the Main Topic for the following issue. We usually go with that decision, but I remember a few terms ago when more than 90% of people voted on a topic that we ended up not taking. My deputy and I decided on the topic Misfits instead, although that topic only had two votes, coming from the both of us. Guess that’s one of the few perks of being editor-in-chief.

  1. How do you manage a deadline as early in the semester as one month after it started? And what do you do afterwards?

For everything to go as smoothly as possible, the team and I sit down during the term break to plan everything out with a very strict schedule. Experience, of course, already plays into this, so we kind of know how well some deadlines will work out or how much time you really need to give people with certain assignments to get reasonable results. Then, one week before the term actually starts, I write an e-mail to the course and give the participants all the details, so everyone is already well-prepared and know what’s coming. That method has been working out for us pretty well.

  1. Do some of your Lehramt students plan on using the skills and ideas from your magazine project later on, in the school classroom?

As I’m not going to become a teacher, I can only make assumptions here, but I think working in a team project like eMAG definitely makes organizing a bit easier later on, when you want to get anything done with a horde of 30 pupils. I look at it realistically, though, and say that it’s most likely not going to be a magazine in and of itself. What is useful, I would imagine, is the skills you learn without even noticing for the most part: Working in a team, problem solving, time management. Skills that are becoming more and more important in our society. So maybe that is our little contribution to the development of our students in the course. I, at least, hope so and, most importantly, that it’s a fun time for everyone in what’s otherwise often a very monotonous university day.

Fridays for OUR future

“We’re on a planet. That has a problem. We’ve got to solve it, get involved. And do it now, now, now. We need to build a better future. And we need to start right now.” – Read that part again, with the melody of “Bella Ciao” in mind and imagine being surrounded by hundreds: then you’ll catch a glimpse of how a Fridays for Future protest looks and feels.


May 24: In more than 2000 cities (about 200 of them in Germany), young people once more took to the streets, to fight for climate justice. But I’m not writing this article to tell you to stop wasting food, go vegan, quit flying or whatsoever – not again! You’re old enough to know that you should change your lifestyle to help our environment. Instead, I’ll try to share the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of people that fight for the same goal.

The demonstration

One of the demonstrations started on Friday at 11:30 in Kempten. Pupils from a range of about 50 km had come to protest. First, everything was quiet as we gathered. As you looked around, you tried to read the other signs. Those beautiful, sarcastic but also terrifying signs: One said: “This planet is getting hotter than young Leonardo DiCaprio!”, another one read: “Wake up Humans! You’re endangered, too!“. They’d have been funny, but as the topic is so relevant, they were simply sad and scary. You could already hear strident whistling everywhere. A lot of pupils had brought whistles and started to sing: “Wir sind hier! Wir sind laut, weil ihr uns die Zukunft klaut!” (We are here! We are loud! Because you’re stealing our future!) Everyone else joined. And it was getting louder. We wanted to make (fucking) noise. We wanted to be (fucking) heard. So we screamed our heads off.

As we started to walk, the one big chant developed into more smaller chants in smaller groups. We were followed by disapproving glances of people. But we didn’t care. I mean, why should we? They apparently don’t care about our future, so I don’t give a fuck if I jar on their nerves. After an hour of walking, we topped at a little square. And the speaker started to sing the recasted “Bella Ciao” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zemK3S79tpU). Then, he talked about the European Elections. And I would like to do the same thing now.

There’s no excuse for today!


I know as a student it might be hard to participate in those projects because of work or other obligations. But there is no possibly accepted excuse for not voting today. You can change the world. You can make a difference. You can make the difference this world needs so desperately. I plead you: Don’t let your vote be wasted because you are too lazy after a boozy night.

Author: Leyla Bayraktar

Picture: Ela Bayraktar

Sympathy for a killer


The lights come on and in a nightgown Ruth Ellis (Lotte Albrecht) enters the stage to the bittersweet Blues of Billie Holiday, which immediately draws the audience into the stylish, but flawed version of the 1950s that forms the backdrop for the story preceding Ruth’s death. On 13 July 1955, at the age of 28 she is hanged, the last woman in Britain to suffer this fate. Her crime: she shot her lover in cold blood. What drove this young, beautiful woman over the edge? Why did she not even attempt to defend herself? These are some of the questions “The Thrill of Love” by Amanda Whittington aims to explore.

An emotional rollercoaster

The story is told in flashbacks through the perspective of Inspector Jack Gale (Jack Sigel). During his investigation he reconstructs a selection of events that give us an insight into the seedy world of gentlemen’s clubs and the women working the nights. Always present on bar room stage, he is a constant reminder that even the happiest moments in the lives of the women there are nothing but stepping stones on the path to the grim future we already know. However, these scenes of joy are one of the greatest feats of the play: it’s all too easy to get lost in the hopelessness and sadness that is usually associated with the story of Ruth Ellis. The playful banter between the women is a welcome break and allows the actresses to display their perfect timing and quick delivery. Thanks to these moments the characters become more than just parts of a tragic story. We become invested in their hopes and dreams, although we should know full well that they are unlikely at best. When this realization finally kicks in during the second half of the play, it hits that much harder.

Powerful performances

There are no extras in “The Thrill of Love”. Every character has his or her moments. The club’s manager Sylvia Shaw (Lucie Marchand) appears to be all business, but she cares deeply about all the women who work for her. The charwoman Doris (Anna Hilbel) often puts her needs behind those of others, even if it puts her own happiness at risk. The young Vicky Martin (Sara Steffes) hopes to meet powerful men and become a star on the big screen. Even Inspector Gale, cold as he may seem, turns out to be motivated by more than the mere desire to solve a case.

An unforgettable evening

“The Thrill of Love” is a powerful experience. The crew surrounding Rudolf Beck has managed to create a captivating atmosphere that lingers long after the curtain closes. We may know the outcome from the very beginning, but we don’t know the story behind it. In finding out, it’s difficult not to feel somewhat like a voyeur. Personal tragedies happen in silence. It’s when they emerge that we start to care.

 

Performances:

Thursday 6th December
Friday 7th December
Tuesday 11th December
Thursday 13th December

8 p.m., Hörsaal II

 

Author & Poster: Andreas Böhm