Ruhr-University-Bochum (RUB) – Bochum, Germany

Ruhr-University-Bochum (RUB) has an initiative against sexism on campus called “Our Campus”. The project was initiated by academic staff from the Gender Studies (RUB). The aim of the project has been to raise knowledge and sensibility towards sexual harassment and sexism among all participants at the RUB and to prevent sexual violence on campus through strengthening moral courage. Currently, this project supports mainly LGBTQ students/staff and women. These equity groups were proposed/identified by students, by national plan/legislation; university’s internal policies; and based on relevant academic and policy research. RUB has targets for access for specific equity groups.

The activities that the department has carried out (in the last two years) with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity are:

  • support and counselling for students and university staff;
  • lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff;
  • public promotion (e.g. production of media content such as podcasts);
  • improving digital accessibility;
  • improving physical accessibility.

At this university, two activities had a big impact on raising awareness towards sexism and to strength moral courage at RUB: spread of information among all campus members through public relations and by educating people who function as multipliers. RUB has about 60.000 campus members and therefore, it is very important to empower people to be active against sexism, discrimination in all forms and to help prevent violence.

The last innovative practise/tool introduced at RUB when it comes to ensuring inclusion, diversity and equal access under the “Our Campus” initiative was the development of an open-access self-learning-course which is published on the website of the university. The course focuses on people who have no, or rare, knowledge on topics such as sexism, racism, intersectionality (and others) and shall motivate people to educate themselves and to get information about how to get active as a solidary person against discrimination and violence. The course works with Slides (Instagram-Style), information texts and links to other programmes, information centres, websites, platforms etc.

In addition to activities to support inclusion, RUB implements measures/activities to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices through binding policy (legislation), strategy/action plan(s), recommendations/guidelines and preventive programmes.

At RUB, the motivation for establishing this service was originally the discourse of the #metoo-debate, sexual assaults at the RUB and a lack of programmes like “Our Campus”. The factors crucial for the institutional leadership in deciding to establish a service for wider access/inclusion/diversity for students/staff was existing sexism. Sexism is a phenomenon on a structural level that affects everyone on campus. All of us are shaped by sexist mindsets, behaviors and by societal and political aspects. To raise awareness for sexist behavior and to encourage a respectful community at the RUB all campus members need to be included. The project sees a necessity in focusing on different groups at the RUB, e.g. people who behave sexist or profit of structural sexism, people who are affected by sexism, bystanders and people who have the power to change sexist aspects on the structural level of the University. This is a successful project because there is an open communication on sensitive topics, creation of information and supportive structure, transfer of knowledge to a broad public, empowerment of all campus members, a systemic and intersectional approach, an empathic imagery in public relations, gender neutral language, addressing bystanders, reflection of masculinities, empowerment of women and LGBTIQA+.
This activity is partially governed by national laws. In 2000 Germany passed the “General Equal Treatment Act (AGG)”. This protection is based on Germany’s General Equal Treatment Act (AGG). It prohibits discrimination mainly in the world of work and daily affairs, such as going to a discotheque or renting housing. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency provides confidential counselling free of charge. It can also help citizens to find a counselling centre close to their place of residence. (
Since May 2023, the project is linked to the Office for diversity and antidiscrimination of the RUB. The office for diversity and antidiscrimination belongs to the central government of the RUB. Before, from 2017 to 2022, the project was linked to the Marie-Jahoda-Center for international Gender Studies (RUB). Diversity, inclusion and equality topics are mentioned in this office and at the university’s strategies, policies and work plans. At RUB, most of the decisions and contributions to the project design are made internally by the person who coordinates the project, in consultation with the project manager. For some specific ideas or strategies, the university government gets included.
The main challenges to establishing this service were the existing taboos, stereotypes and prejudices regarding sexism and violence against women and LGBTIQA+. Another challenge was to find the right language and actions to address as many people as possible, without getting the content spongy and distorted. Currently, the challenges are the political developments, funding/low budget and scarcity of human resources. The project has a project coordinator working on this project 20 hours/week (as of August, there will be an assistant working on this project 10 hours per week). The work of this project is totally independent, without the need for unpaid volunteers. The budget is quite low so almost everything has to be done within the 30 hours by one or two persons. The project is funded by the Ruhr-University-Bochum and the Akademisches Förderungswerk (AKAFÖ) for in a 50% /50% ratio. The Akademisches Förderungswerk provides social and economic services to students in its area of responsibility. The Akademisches Förderungswerk (AKAFÖ) is responsible for: the Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum University of Applied Sciences, the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, Georg Agricola University of Technology, EBZ Business School, the College of Health, the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe in Bochum, the Folkwang University of the Arts, Bochum, Witten/Herdecke University.
RUB has a formal evaluation process of the service. The indicators used to measure success are mainly quantitative such as the numbers of participants, number of events and actions organized, number of network partners and cooperations. Quality of responses and feedbacks are among the quantitative indicators. The evaluation data is collected through clicks on social media, self-learning-course, website, number of participants in workshops and lessons, responses to actions that were offered by the project and by normal feedback/critics. The results are disseminated through a report which is disseminated to the project manager and the university government

Equal Opportunity Office

Bochum, Germany