In the past, he could afford to go out to eat once in a while, says David Falk.

"Now I'm considering whether I wouldn't rather heat instead.

Or when I make food, whether I pre-cook it for several days.” He often turns off the heating completely at night and tries to be at the university as long as possible during the day, “where it might be a bit warmer”.

At the moment it's working quite well, but he wonders what will happen if the temperatures continue to drop.

"Things might get worse."

Kim Maurus


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The twenty-three-year-old is in his seventh semester studying industrial engineering at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt.

Times are not only difficult for him personally, his university is also in dire straits.

Together with his twin brother, he came to the protest of the students and employees of the university on Thursday.

It's 1 p.m., the demonstrators have just arrived at Luisenplatz in the city center.

They brought posters, whistles, loud music.

They shout "We want to study without freezing" and "Hessen, move out the coal, otherwise the lights will go out here".

The police speak of around 1000, the organizers of 1500 participants.

A comprehensive set of problems

Trade unions, student councils and student associations have joined forces for the protest action under the motto "Preventing TUtalausfall".

"The energy price crisis is having a particular impact on universities that have energy-intensive equipment," says Verdi representative Gabriel Nyc.

This also includes the TU, and it is already clear: the university's particle accelerator will be out of operation for two months longer than usual in winter for cost reasons.

The demonstrators do not have a central demand, they see a whole range of problems: the cost of living is too high, student loans are too low and wages are too low, the often temporary contracts in academic work and last but not least the concern that the university could return to online teaching to save energy.

A few days ago, the University of Koblenz announced that it would discontinue normal teaching from the beginning of December to mid-January, and all events should take place digitally.

For the students of the TU Darmstadt, Koblenz is a deterrent.

Regardless of the subject: Nobody likes to remember digital lectures.

"We don't want online teaching," says architecture student Katharina Hoff.

"But it's also about more, about people being properly employed, that we can study under fair conditions." The state government "once again" completely forgot about the universities.

The keyword "20 million euros" is mentioned again and again among the students.

According to the university, there is a risk of a budget deficit of this magnitude.

Who should pay for this?

"We simply need money from the state," Hoff summarizes the demonstrators' point of view.

According to the 25-year-old student, one notices particularly

how closely the various demands made of the university and the state government are related: the university's energy-saving measures had a direct impact on the quality of your studies.

"It's very cold," she says.

The heating runs at 19 degrees during the day until 5 p.m., after which it is turned off.

However, the architecture students often worked at night.

Because some buildings are made of concrete and are listed buildings, they really cool down.

Student jobs are the first to be eliminated

According to the students, it is also currently being discussed whether the use of some workplaces in the university could be restricted.

"That would mean: We no longer have space to work," says Hoff.

Her fellow student Eric Schaab adds: “We need person-to-person exchange.” The computer programs that you need to study in the subject cannot be easily downloaded at home either.

Mathematics students are worried too.

Marek Greulich is studying in the first semester and says that the practice groups and consultation hours are essential in order to get through the course at all.

But they are often led by students from higher semesters.

These are jobs that could be eliminated first when it comes to saving costs.

Carl Mundfrom is already doing his master's degree in mathematics and would like more energy subsidies for the university.

"The university has its own combined heat and power plant," he says, and gets most of its energy from it.

The gas price brake is of no use to her.

“I had fixed-term contracts for ten years”

Long-time employees of the university are also protesting.

"I had fixed-term contracts for ten years and am now glad that I have a permanent one," says a 55-year-old employee in the electrical engineering department, who wishes to remain anonymous.

"There are enough colleagues who don't have that." The cuts would come, that was unavoidable.

This means a greater burden for her working group.

Klaus Hofmann, Professor of Electrical Engineering, also sees the problem.

"We need adequate funding for our basic teaching and research." Savings cannot be carried out on the backs of the students.

After the event, trade unionist NYC is satisfied.

"It was a complete success," he says.

At the beginning he had expected only about 500 participants.

Now he is curious to see what effect the action will have.

"The exciting part is just beginning."