From an occupation to an autonomous social space

We are squatting the lecture hall 21 in the “Kupferbau” building of the University of Tübingen since Thursday. On this Sunday evening we are approaching the end of the ultimatum. The university administration wants the protestors to leave the building till Monday 8 a.m.

In the meantime we have gathered a lot of incredibly impressive and uniting experiences. The protest started out as a campaign against the planned large-scale project “Cyber Valley”, an initiative for research on artificial intelligence (AI), which impends research for commercial armament, border control and surveillance as well as contributing to the further gentrification of a city which already has extremely high housing costs. The protest was also directed against companies like Amazon and SCHUFA who research AI in order to maximize consumer data processing in form of Social-Scoring. The protest has now evolved into an actively self-administered social space which is accessible to the public due to the occupation. We are now using this space together with initiatives and citizens to create materials, design textiles, write texts as well as giving informational inputs and organizing discussions. In addition to the numerous solidarity statements from all over the country, practical solidarity in the form of support and participation, numerous donations of material goods, food and money, we are amazed by how the space gave the people of Tübingen the opportunity for sharing worries, hardships and needs.

Students, staff of the university and employees of the academic mid-level faculty, citizens of the affected residential area “Wanne” and also professors dropped by, got in touch with us and told us of their problems. Themes were: living in a city in which housing is frequently only affordable with a side job, working without pay in hope of a temporary job in the academic mid-level faculty in the next semester, the effects of dependent and heteronoumous teaching due to the growing economization and third-party funding. But instead of only sharing their experiences with us, they used the autonomous space and the opportunities it provides,  as subject with agency,  to freely and independently design their own space. We already have several offers by people from in- and outside of the university who want use this new possibility and talk about their situation and experiences in front of other people or host informational inputs and lectures. The struggles of the people and the “Cyber Valley” are two sides of the same coin. They are the immediate effects of the growing economization of education in a university town.

We will stay! We will not give up this autonomous space that acts in accordance to the needs of the people who empower themselves. We want to give these people space and publicity. We continue to protest against the “Cyber Valley”, but the opportunities that our form of protest entails have demonstrated that the problems we address implicate further, fundamental problems. It is about the question of how we want to shape our own lives in the places in which we live.

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