Wall of Wishes: What would you wish for in order to feel at home at FAU?

The Wishing Wall opened on a Laptop

An interview with two of the students involved, Wiebke Witsch and Melanie Kuch

As part of the #FAURespect campaign launched by the Office of Equality and Diversity, the Wall of Wishes was developed by students of the Master’s degree program Theater – Research – Transfer. Until March 8, FAU members can use the wall to share what they would like to see at the University in order for them to feel appreciated and safe. How exactly did the Wall of Wishes come about and what happens to all the wishes written on it? Wiebke Witsch and Melanie Kuch explain this and more in our interview.

A wall of wishes is no ordinary project. Where did the idea come from?

Melanie: The Office of Equality and Diversity got in touch with our Chair during the #FAURespect campaign. They wanted to set up a project with students. It quickly became clear to us that we wanted to do something with more of a long term effect than just a one-off event. We also wanted to give others the opportunity to reflect and also write down their wishes. We thought about what we would need in order to create a type of sympathetic ear where we would also have specific results at the end that we could pass on.

What do you think about the results up to now?

Melanie: The main topic of the campaign that our project is a part of is sexual harassment and equal opportunities.  However, the wishes on the wall touch on so many different topics. These include topics relating to LGBTQIA+ and the repeated request for gender neutral toilets. Others mention accessibility and the need for training for teaching staff and students, for example on how to deal with mental health issues.

Wiebke: We have already created a table to sort the topics before we hand everything over and it contains such an incredibly wide range of wishes. We have been wondering how best to deal with them.

It has become quite clear just how many things people wish for from an institution such as a university. However, the main topics are still positions of dependency, misuse of power, and sexualized violations of boundaries through which we are involved in the campaign run by the Office of Equality and Diversity and for which we want to give those affected the opportunity to speak up.

So that these topics don’t get pushed into the background, we have decided not to post the wishes that don’t have anything to do with these issues on the wall. We will continue to collect them though and pass them on to the Executive Board. These wishes will definitely not be lost and it is very important for us that everybody can have their say. Another wall of wishes is therefore being planned by the Office of Equality and Diversity.

Who can write something on the Wall of Wishes?

Melanie: Everyone! Regardless of whether they are students or FAU staff members, it is important for us that everyone at FAU has their say. This is the reason why there is also a Wall of Wishes in English.

Is it really anonymous?

Wiebke: Absolutely. Besides the logistics, ensuring anonymity was one of the main reasons for making the wall a digital one. We worked with the Data Protection Officer and others to ensure everything is above board. When a new wish is posted, we only see the beginning of the sentence selected and the text that was added. We do not ask for a person’s name or email address when they submit a wish on the wall.

What happens with the results?

Wiebke: The evaluated results will be handed over to the Executive Board in front of the Schloss on April 25. The “One Billion Rising” campaign that is fighting violence against women and girls will also be taking part. And then we hope that the Executive Board will use the wishes on the wall as encouragement to make a few changes.

What is your best case scenario?

Wiebke: That as many of the wishes as possible are implemented in some way.

Melanie: Exactly. Some of the wishes are very specific and relatively easy to implement. It would be great if we could say as a university “OK, there’s definitely a need here. We’re working on it and will keep you up to date.” Many of the wishes say that more open communication is needed on the part of FAU. It’s a great place to start.

Link to the Wall of Wishes