Lauren Weser: the voice of students in the crisis team
A portrait of FHWS student (Social Work) Lauren Weser
© Lauren Weser
Lauren Weser was part of the FHWS coronavirus crisis team as one of ten advisers. She was the student council representative there in the 2020 summer semester. But who is the person behind the student voice in the crisis team?
“If we want decisions to be in our interests, then we also have to find our voice.” Finding a voice seems to be something of a vocation for Laura Weser. And not just for her own voice, but also for all other students for whom she exercises her public functions in FHWS politics.
Lauren herself is in her fifth semester studying social work at FHWS. She is 29, but looks younger with her rather delicate face, with light, smooth skin and reddish-brown hair. With her long dreadlocks reaching far past her shoulders and two silver nose rings, she could easily be taken for a cliché of a social work student. She is presumably aware of it herself, she likes to joke about her degree programme with the “very conspicuous and communicative” students, among whom she also counts herself. You can see in her smile and the sparkle in her eyes how much she likes her studies. But her route here was not a straight line. After her general higher education qualification in 2010, she started a degree in African studies in Bayreuth, a course in interpreting in Erlangen and spent several years working in various projects and schools before she made a new start with her current studies.
Lauren has just come straight from a coronavirus crisis team meeting. This meeting took place in her room, over Zoom of course. Her room is typical for a student, slightly chaotic but with plenty of charm and character. Facets of her personality shine through in every corner, whether it’s the many musical instruments – she is proficient on the hurdy-gurdy and the recorder – or the books on the shelves. The windowsill is full of house plants and other belongings. “One of my most important pieces of equipment!” she jokes cheerfully as she holds up a half-eaten bar of chocolate and laughs. A bright, friendly laugh which gives her a certain degree of warmth and approachability.
Both characteristics are of no small importance for work in student representation. Since her first semester, Lauren was active in student representation as her class representative, and from there she joined the council. For her, it is nothing out of the ordinary, but she constitutes something of an enigma for her fellow students, like her fellow class representative Mattis Isenmann, with her wide-ranging involvement: “Lauren is a real high-energy package. From the outside, we sometimes wonder how she manages it all.”
The Regensburg-born student was democratically elected to the crisis team by the council in order to bring the student perspective into the discussion. A right that the students demanded for themselves, as Lauren tells us. She is grateful that students are listened to at FHWS. A topic that she speaks very passionately about: “If you aren’t involved, then you can't explain your own situation and can’t expect that your own problems will be addressed.”
The voice of all
It is for this very reason that her work on the crisis team is important to her. There, she is just as valued, as a student, as the representatives of the other departments. She can put topics up for discussion and express her opinion. But not just her own opinion, because it becomes increasingly clear that Lauren is a team player. She often stresses that she is part of the crisis team not just on her own behalf, but on behalf of the council as a representative of all students. She discusses every opinion expressed on a topic in the crisis team with the other council members again.
Together with the members of the crisis team, various topics and questions are discussed in meetings which last for several hours, twice a week at the time of this interview and on a daily basis at the beginning of the pandemic. Questions from many students were brought up in the process. “It could be up to five hours a day,” the 29-year-old reports. But the situation has calmed down in the meantime and she is happy with the extra effort. The asynchronous character of her lectures helps her out with time management. Her room is currently serving not only as a meeting room for the crisis team but also, as for most students across Germany, as a lecture room.
A topic close to her heart: inclusion
When exceptional circumstances are not dominating FHWS politics, inclusion in higher education is a topic close to Lauren's heart. “I try to advocate for studying to be possible for anyone and everyone,” she says emphatically. Her fellow student Mattis highlights her talent for considering other people’s situation regardless of her own situation and recognising injustices. He describes her as someone who truly wants to achieve change. This seems to run through her entire life: even her favourite band “The Levellers”, whose logo appears on her black sweatshirt jacket, is political.
When Lauren talks about her commitment and what is important to her, she often looks past her counterpart into mid-air while she appears to be carried away by her words and, so it seems, by her passion for what she is saying. But sometimes she also seems somewhat reserved, speaks rather carefully and chooses her words wisely, with her chin resting in her hand. You can see: Lauren Weser often questions her own perceptions. Because a different point of view is also part of involvement in higher education politics for her. “You also have to be prepared to listen.” Lauren Weser therefore does more than just give the students a voice. She also lends her voice and tries to find consensus. “It is important to talk to one another. That’s the only way to find solutions.”
Information about the crisis team
The crisis team has met regularly since February 2020 and implements the Ministry's coronavirus pandemic requirements. The participants are members of the university board of management, representatives of the faculties and university administration, and representatives of the staff council and the student council. The topics of discussion are very wide-ranging and deal with all of the key questions for dealing with coronavirus, from the FHWS ban on access, through conducting examinations to the requirement for working from home. The absolute priority is to keep the FHWS family healthy and to stop FHWS activities from coming to a standstill despite everything.
Current information and resolutions can be found at the FHWS Corona page
- Head: Prof. Dr. Peter Bradl, Head of IREM
- Prof. Dr. Robert Grebner, FHWS President
- Stefan Hartmann, FHWS Chancellor
- Roland Ulsamer, Head of CAF
- Prof. Dr. Christian Bauer, Vice President for Teaching/Studies
- Prof. Dr. Dagmar Unz, Dean of FAS as representative of the faculties
- Dr. Daniel Wimmer, Head of HSIN
- Martin Kraus, Head of ITSC
- Claudia Kunze, Head of HSK (resigned in July 2020)
- Maria Grünewald, staff council and representative of the Department of Public Affairs and Communications (HSK) from the end of July
- Lauren Weser, student council (resigned at the end of July)
- Ann-Kathrin Jacobs, student council (from the end of July; Lauren Weser now deputy)
- Johannes Riegler, occupational safety staff unit (new from the middle of August 2020)
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