Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) spent a day in Berlin finding out more about how to combat discrimination and anti-inclusive attitudes on campus with De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)
The Union ran an Activist Academy in the German capital, as part of the launch of DSU’s #NotOnMyCampus campaign.
Over 40 students took part in DSU's Activist Academy in Berlin on Tuesday
The students are in Berlin as part of DMU’s mass #DMUglobal trip, which spans four European cities. So far, groups of students have been to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin providing hands-on support for refugees and finding out more about the complex issues facing disadvantaged people in the places they visited.
The aim of the Activist Academy was to inspire students to be a force for positive change through workshops, craftivism and debate. It feeds into the work DMU is doing to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal 16, which promotes justice for all and the building of peaceful, inclusive societies. DMU has been chosen as a global hub for work to further this goal.
The group were welcomed at a café and workspace in the city by Jessica Okwuonu, VP Welfare and Community at DSU.
She said: “This campaign aims to change people’s attitudes. We want to do more inclusive campaigns as there’s nothing worse than arriving on campus as a new student and feeling like you could be a target for discrimination.”
They discussed issues such as unconscious bias and bystander behaviour
The students then took part in two workshops. One focused on bystander and unconscious bias, which aimed to help them define harassment and feel empowered to intervene and report incidents of discrimination and hate crime. They then discussed the history of Berlin and what lessons can be learned today from the city’s turbulent past.
Third year Accounting and Finance student Benjamin Okwan came away from the sessions feeling inspired.
He said: “We found out about how the coming down of the Berlin Wall broke the social divide between [East and West] Germany…what was more salient for me during the session was students giving their own viewpoints about discrimination. It was great, it gave me something to take back for my student journey.”
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The second part of the Academy saw students take part in craftivism – activism through craft activities – by creating posters and artwork showing the changes they most wanted to see. Their work will be used by DSU as part of the #NotOnMyCampus campaign. They also came up with campaign plans for how they think DMU’s campus can be made even more inclusive.
DSU's VP Education, Mollie Footitt took part in craftivism - activism through craft activities
DSU’s Jessica said: “With everything that is going on in the world today such as Brexit, Trump and modern day slavery, it’s important that students at DMU work together to be the change in the world we are called to do everyday.
“And this change starts on our campus. What we learn in Berlin, we going to take back to DMU and work to make our campus, Leicestershire and the world a better and safe place.”
Second year International Business student Rachael Fasogbon found the Activist Academy “life changing”. She said: “Today we made movements, we made waves and we got people angry for the right reasons.”
You can find out more about the #DMUglobal Europe trip here.
Posted on Wednesday 12th September 2018