The "Cafete", the Student Café of Biology at the FU-Berlin is to be demolished in May for fire safety reasons. Since the 1970s, the room in the middle of the foyer of the Institute of Plant Physiology and Microbiology at Königin-Luise-Straße 12 - 16a has been used by students as a self-administered café, office, and recreation room. The Technical Department did not discuss the impending demolition constructively with the students. Acceptable alternative premises were also not offered. Janis (26) from the Cafete team says: "For 40 years, the Cafete has been the meeting point for biology students - now this meeting point is to disappear during the Corona crisis". Professor em. and Dean of the Faculty (1978 - 1980) Randolf Menzel says about the Cafete: "The biology students' office in the entrance area of the Plant Physiology and Microbiology Department is a historical place that a university cannot simply clear away if it has any trace of sensitivity for its own history".
Tilman Schneider, speaker of the public relations department at the General Students' Committee (AStA FU), adds: "This approach is irresponsible and ruthless and will damage student life at the institute in the long term. We find it particularly concerning that the closure of the university due to the pandemic serves as a cover to carry out the unpopular demolition behind the back of the student body. This is an affront to all students."
The small room in the middle of the foyer of the Institute of Plant Physiology was probably originally planned as a guardhouse. In the course of the student protests of the 1970s, the room was occupied by students, has been self-administered by students ever since and plays a central role in campus life.
Unfortunately, the "Cafete" does not appear in the construction plans of the building and in the foyer there is an additional open staircase, which makes the entire foyer look like a stairwell. Although there are many metres between the stairs and the "Cafete", the fire protection requirements are as high as if it were part of the staircase.
On the basis of a new fire safety inspection, plans were made for the final demolition. However, the demolition plans were not directly communicated to the student body, but were only sent in small denominations upon explicit request. All requests from the students, as well as compromise proposals in the form of a reconstruction financed by the student body were ignored. Instead, the "Cafete" is to be cleared by the end of May. "Since the Technical Department rejects any compromises, we are forced to make the outrageous action public. We call upon all students to show solidarity. Let us defend self-governed free spaces", said Mara (24), active in the Cafete team.