The 71st Student Parliament of RWTH Aachen elects the AStA for the election period 2023/24

The new AStA of RWTH Aachen University / © 2023 Noëmi Preisler / AStA of RWTH Aachen University

The 71st Student Parliament of RWTH Aachen University elected a new Students‘ Union Executive Board (AStA) in its constituent and an extraordinary session.
Simon Roß was elected chairperson, and Leif Steinhagen is the deputy chairperson and officer for culture. In addition, Zekiye Kazan was elected as Social Affairs Officer, Jos Steverding as Education and University Communications Officer, and Saskia Schall as Public Relations and Political Education Officer. Florian Winkler as officer for sustainability and student engagement and Mаrco Leоnhardt as officer for finances and organization were already elected to the AStA a year ago. Until their successors have been elected, they will hold their office in the new team on an interim basis.

A topic that continues to be very present for the student representation is student mobility. More than ten months after the 49-Euro-Ticket was announced, there is still a threat that the semester tickets for students will be abolished. The semester tickets are based on the solidarity model: all students pay the same price – regardless of whether and how often they use the ticket. Until now, this meant that the ticket could be 80 to 90% cheaper than conventional tickets – and with almost no additional subsidies.

But in order to be mobile in NRW, all Aachen students pay the same price as before the 49-euro ticket was introduced; unchanged at 33.61 euros per month. Since the price gap to the 49-euro ticket is thus too small, the solidarity model is no longer permissible. This is confirmed by independent legal opinions.

“If the federal and state governments do not manage to agree on a solution for the semester tickets by the end of October and the AVV cannot make us a legally secure offer for financial reasons, there will no longer be a semester ticket in Aachen from April 2024. This is because our current contract expires at the end of the winter semester and there can be no extension under the current conditions,” comments Simon Roß, AStA Chairman .

The discontinuation of the semester ticket would be expensive for many students, and ASEAG would also lose tens of millions of euros in revenue per year in one fell swoop.

The social situation of students also depends on BAföG. Here, however, the federal government is planning a drastic cut in funding for the coming budget year. Even now, only just under 11% of students receive BAföG, and even the BAföG maximum rate is far below the poverty line.

“How are students supposed to finance their studies in the face of rising living costs? More students must be able to receive BAföG and the money must be enough to live on. The government’s calculation does not add up!”, Zekiye Kazan, social affairs officer, comments on the upcoming cut.

She also points out that students are among the groups in Germany most affected by poverty.

In the area of teaching and university communications, officer Jos Steverding and his team are currently focusing intensively on the current exam period and advising students on their rights during exams. However, other important topics are also on the agenda in the coming term, including the university’s re-accreditation and various digital and international projects. Jos Steverding emphasizes that he would like to focus particularly on the concerns of students in the coming year. This includes, for example, the creation of innovative learning space concepts.

“In political education, we would like to actively contribute to sustainably anchoring the importance and reappraisal of our past in the university environment,” explains Saskia Schall, Public Relations and Political Education Officer. In this context, the concerns and wishes of the student body as well as information events are the focus of public relations work. “Our goal is to offer students the opportunity to participate in discussions on various topics beyond their studies. We strive to provide an open platform where they can actively participate and shape.”

Furthermore, Leif Steinhagen, the cultural officer, and his team take care of a broad and diverse range of student culture. This includes poetry slams, the Campus Festival in summer 2024, the student beer garden at Templergraben, and art courses and exhibitions. Work is also underway to launch new events in cooperation with the city and RWTH.

The AStA is looking forward to the coming year in office as well as to the upcoming freshman week – this year again with the freshman rally, which is made possible by many dedicated students as well as the university.