"Akrützel" is an artificial word that floats in the ether free of all political connotations, and that is why Jena's leading university newspaper also bears this tongue twister as its name.

Until November 2021, the newspaper with currently 4000 print copies was one of the oldest and highest-circulation university newspapers in Germany since it was founded in 1989.

There are reasons for the newspaper's popularity: issue after issue, the acrobat delivers rock-solid university journalism that has paved the way for many careers.

It's about controversial university politics, face-to-face teaching during the pandemic or the Jena fraternities and their dubious image.

The newspaper is available free of charge in all university and college buildings;

Due to back tax payments, the StuRa is currently in moderate financial distress, because in 2016 taxable sales from various events of the student councils were not correctly reported to the tax office, as can be seen from the meeting material.

For example, income from the sale of drinks at parties and barbecues was declared as donations, and some invoices and receipts that the tax office could have taken into account were missing.

This financial behavior has now torn a hole of more than 20,000 euros in the StuRa's budget.

The consequences of the mismanagement are reflected in cuts in the coming year, whereby Akrützel, the only effective observer of the StuRa, is said to be affected by them.

This is exactly where a university newspaper is needed

In November 2021 there was already the first significant cut: The circulation of the Akrützel was reduced by a quarter: from 4000 to 3000 printed copies. A clear restriction of the reach of the medium - the reference of the StuRas to the existing online presence of the newspaper comes as a rather flimsy consolation. Akrützel owes its reach at the university to its constant physical presence, which not least keeps the newspaper barrier-free. If the circulation is reduced, this inevitably means a restriction of this free flow of information, the newspaper loses relevance, which could mean that further cuts will be easier to justify in the medium term.

But there are still further discussions about budget cuts in the Akrützel. The post of editor-in-chief, the only paid position in the otherwise volunteer team, should not continue to exist in its current form. Those who previously held the position of editor-in-chief at Akrützel were released from their studies for two semesters. The position was remunerated with around 1200 euros per month - a quite reasonable remuneration in view of the fact that this position should be open to all interested students without financial losses and not only to those who can rely on their parents for their livelihood. Anyone who is dependent on a part-time job or on BAföG to pay for rent, food and semester fees simply cannot afford to lose a year of study time without payment.

Meanwhile, the StuRa is discussing splitting the two editors-in-chief of the newspaper and campus radio into two mini-jobs, which, according to the meeting material, should each be remunerated at 450 euros, which the Akrützel editors themselves vehemently reject. Without this one coordinating position, which in terms of time is comparable to a full-time job, according to the editorial team, the basis for the voluntary work of all other editors is weakened. Without this node, the AKRützel as it currently exists is not possible. A division of the post represents a massive intervention in the - currently fully functional - processes of the editorial office. A particularly unpleasant aftertaste is added because a political body, the StuRa, makes the inner functionality of its observers more difficult.Despite strong protests from the Akrützel editors, the uncoordinated proposal was included in the budget, but it has not yet been decided.

It is unfortunate that the Jena StuRa obviously needs to be reminded of the importance of independent journalism at universities.

Budget proposals such as the one just described, like other meetings and decisions of the StuRa, must be accompanied by critical journalists so that they are accessible to students.

No student goes through the statutes and the regulations of the StuRa in order to then regularly appear at the hour-long meetings.

This is exactly where a university newspaper is needed, and that is precisely its task.

That quality journalism seems threatened at a university, a place where freedom of information and critical engagement with power structures should be encouraged, is disturbing.

Especially at a time when freedom of the press is under threat from many sides.

The demand must therefore be: Let our little ones work in peace!

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