Statement from the University of Greifswald’s Senate on the Name Debate

In reaction to the objections from the Ministry of Education, the Legal Services Office and the Senate’s Statute Committee were instructed to promptly draw up suggestions for adjusting the Basic Regulations. The goal is to develop a legally sound procedure for changes to the Basic Regulations, like the name of the University.

The members of the Senate worded a statement on the ongoing discussion concerning the discard of the name. The following statement was agreed to unanimously.

Statement from the 15th March 2017

For many years and at regular intervals (previously in 2010 and now 2016/2017), the name of the University of Greifswald has been at the centre of discussions. From 1933 onwards and again since 1954 our University has carried the name Ernst Moritz Arndt. Since then the name has been discussed controversially on several occasions. That’s why the University’s Senate has again addressed the question as to whether the name Ernst Moritz Arndt is suitable for a University which is open to the world. According to the Landeshochschulgesetz (State Higher Education Law), it is one of the Senate’s immanent responsibilities to make autonomous decisions on this topic.

At its session on the 18/01/2017, after gaining a two-thirds majority, the Senate decided to discard the name Ernst Moritz Arndt. The outcome of this vote sparked an extremely impulsive and emotional public debate. The Senate respects the right of all citizens to critically voice their opinion on this topic. However, the Senate does not accept that comments in the form of pure insults have been aimed at students or the University’s bodies/officials.

After careful examination, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s Ministry of Education refused to agree to the Senate’s decision, only on formal grounds. In its notification from 07/03/2017, the Ministry of Education explicitly confirms that the University is allowed to stipulate its own name in the Basic Regulations, in accordance with § 1 Sub-Section 3 LHG M-V.

On the 15/03/2017, the Senate decided to clarify the legal questions and, with the help of its Statute Committee, to define the formal requirements needed to be able to make a prompt decision on the name, which would be legally valid. As the largest employer in the region, the University, in many aspects, plays an important role in the flourishing of the University and Hanseatic Town of Greifswald. The Senate therefore finds it significantly important for the wellbeing of the town and state to engage in a respectful and open dialogue with the town council and the public and will hold talks for this purpose with the town council.

Contact at the University of Greifswald
Jan Meßerschmidt
Head of the Press and Media Relations Office
Domstraße 11
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +3834 420 1152