Portrait: Daryoush Danaii and the LandesAStenKonferenz

2021-03-26 Daryoush Danaii studies Studium Individuale at the College and is the coordinator of the LandesASten Conference, the largest association of constituted student bodies in Lower Saxony.

Daryoush Danaii ©Svenja Appuhn
Daryoush Danaii (Copyright: Svenja Appuhn)

The microphone is in a plastic bag. Daryoush Danaii looks at it skeptically. In Corona times, microphones have to be wrapped in something, otherwise it would be unhygienic for the person speaking after them. It's a pity that it has to be plastic, of all things. But it does its job and does not muffle the sound like cloth bags. This is important so that he and the other speakers can be heard well by the crowd. It is August 28, 2020, and the LandesAStenKonferenz, which Danaii coordinates, is demonstrating together with other actors of the "Solidarity Semester Alliance" in front of the Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK) in Hanover for financial aid for students. The alliance consists of more than five statewide youth organizations. About 100 people have come, just enough to keep the distances. Danaii is quite satisfied, a small team from the television is also there, these and other journalists report later on the demands of the students. The demonstrators hold up posters and banners, handwritten in the sans serif font that has always been used for banners for generations.

The LandesAStenKonferenz (LAK) is the association of the student bodies in Lower Saxony. As a federation of the respective general student committees (AStA) of the universities, it represents the approximately 210,000 students in Lower Saxony in social and political matters. Danaii was already involved in university politics when he was elected to Leuphana's student parliament in 2018.  When he was part of the AStA speaker* team in 2019, he got in touch with statewide university politics. In 2020, he finally took over the coordination of the LAK together in a dual leadership. Various tasks fall under his purview: "For example, if the state government amends the Higher Education Act, which affects the framework conditions of the universities, then the LAK is involved and invited to a hearing before the Lower Saxony state parliament. In 2021, the Lower Saxony Higher Education Act will be amended, and the LAK has been working for more than a year to incorporate student demands. During the corona pandemic, the main issue is to provide crisis-related support for students. For example, we stand for the extension of the standard period of study. Among other things with the last demo and our a country wide petition we could obtain now already the second extension of the standard period of study. However, the problems of the students in Lower Saxony go beyond the extension of the standard period of study. In a state-wide survey, the LAK found that both financial worries and the distance learning bring further and also long-term challenges. For example, workload and psychological stress increased significantly for students."

He is studying Studium Individuale. "If I hadn't chosen Studium Individuale, I probably would have studied teaching. It was the right decision because my degree program gives me the freedom to put together the content I need; I don't have to conform to a rigid concept." Danaii chooses his seminars and coursework to fit what he wants to do after graduation, which is political education work. What motivates him in his many involvements? "The question of justice and feeling injustice drives me," he says, "It has to be done in a way that everyone can participate, but also that people are treated fairly."

Danaii would like to see the LAC address many other important issues in the future that have been pushed into the background due to the Corona pandemic: Feminism at universities, anti-discrimination strategies and the support of first-time graduates on their way to university.