The University of Bern is committed to the protection of its students and employees against discrimination and aims to ensure that university members reflect the diversity of society and are given equal access. The university strives for a respectful, inclusive, and discrimination-free study and work environment and does not tolerate racism. Discrimination based on origin is prohibited (BV Art.8 Abs.2) and the university fights racism on a structural as well as on the institutional and individual level. The university takes relevant action based on the equal opportunities action plan and is thus committed to a discrimination-free culture.

The University of Bern offers a point of contact (see box on the right) for members of the university who have been affected by racist attacks, have observed such attacks, or have questions concerning racism.

Support and reporting of incidents

Anyone who feels they have been racially discriminated against in the context of the University of Bern is entitled to support and advice. The University of Bern is also interested in receiving reports of racist incidents in order to better understand the phenomenon and take targeted measures.

Please contact kathrin.kern@unibe.ch rom the Office of Equal Opportunities directly or use the registration form:

Campaign against racism

Plakatlayout der Kampagne gegen Rassismus - "Wir müssen reden"
@unibe; Grafik Christa Heinzer

«We need to talk»

… about racism!

Racism is a social and global problem and must be addressed as such. Unfortunately, it is still talked about far too little - at the University of Bern, we want to change that! In the words of Tupoka Ogette:

"Talking constructively about racism is like a muscle that we haven't trained yet. But it is never too late. Maybe there is soreness at first but in consequence we become stronger both as individuals and as a society."

Get involved in the campaign: Actively address racism, find out about the posters and talk about it in your environment.

Best Practice

Commitment against racism and sexism in the Division of Aquatic Ecology & Evolution at the IEE

Ole Seehausen and his team in the Division "Aquatic Ecology & Evolution" at the Institute of Ecology & Evolution are committed to combating racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination in the field of Ecology, Evolutionary and Conservation Biology (EECB). They strongly advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. For the division seminar series they implemented a process since fall 2020 by which they hope to assure a more balanced representation of speakers. The division is also regularly nominating speakers who explicitly address racism in education and academia for other university events in order to create a more inclusive university landscape.

More information about the institute's commitment



Racism refers to a process in which people are regarded, judged and excluded as homogeneous groups on the basis of their actual or supposed physical or cultural characteristics (such as skin color, origin, language or religion). "Classic racism" is based on the assumption that there is an inequality and inequivalence of groups of people that is based on supposed biological differences. Racism always manifests in various behaviors, laws, regulations, and beliefs that support the process of hierarchization and exclusion in unequal power relations. All of us are socialized within unequal power relations and have learned and internalized racist thinking and acting.

Structural racism describes racism that is firmly anchored in the structures and processes of public and private organizations. As a result, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BiPoC) are disadvantaged and excluded in various areas of society. Structural racism is particularly evident in the legal system and in the political and economic structures of society. As a extensive structural problem in systems and societies, racism leads to exclusion and social inequality in access to and participation in various societal resources such as education, employment, housing and health care.

Xenophobia describes a negative attitude towards people perceived as "foreign", based on prejudice and stereotypes. This does not only affect migrants but is also directed against other people perceived as "foreign" (older people, people with disabilities, travelers, etc.). According to the Racism Report 2022 (in German) of the Counselling Network for Victims of Racism, xenophobia and anti-black racism is the most frequently represented concept of an enemy in reports received by the counselling centers.

Today, anti-Semitism is used as a generic term and in some cases as a synonym for all forms of anti-Jewish attitudes and opinions and expresses a negative attitude or attitude towards people who describe themselves as Jews or are perceived as such.

It is a specific phenomenon in the context of racism because it is used to attribute an ethnicity (to which anti-Semitism refers) on the basis of a religious affiliation (to which anti-Jewishness / anti-Judaism refers). Anti-Semitism is based on an exclusive "us-them" world view (ideology), which manifests itself in conspiracy discourses and is characterized by historically grown distorted images and negative stereotypes of the "Jew": "Jews" are seen as a collective that conspires to harm or dominate humanity and that remains alien and destructive in the society in which it lives.

In addition to the manifestations mentioned under racism, anti-Semitism also includes the denial, trivialization and justification of the Holocaust/the Shoah.

(from: Glossary of the Service for Combating Racism, Federal Department of Home Affairs)

Anti-Muslim racism refers to a negative or hostile attitude and attitude towards people who describe themselves as Muslim or are perceived as such.

Anti-Muslim racism is based on an exclusive us-them world view (ideology), which is based on historically grown distorted images and negative stereotypes towards people from the Arab or Oriental region perceived as Islamic.

(from: Glossary of the Service for Combating Racism, Federal Department of Home Affairs)


The term "racialization" describe constructed categories that have real effects (racism) on BIPoC. People are categorized, stereotyped and hierarchized through "racialization" based on racist characteristics such as appearance (skin color), lifestyles (cultural customs) or imaginary characteristics (such as dancing).

As a strategy of othering, exoticization serves to stereotype and hierarchize socially constructed groups. Superficially positive attributes are used to portray affected people as fundamentally different and implicitly as "uncivilized". In this way, a seemingly harmless fascination with the "foreign" is used to construct an "otherness" that belittles people. This can be seen, for example, in the portrayal of "exotic" countries as travel destinations for adventure seekers or the romanticized portrayal of "the Orient" as "seductive" and "mystical".

The term "othering" describes the separation of one group from another by considering the former as different or foreign and thus as not belonging. This often happens in situations where unequal power hierarchies exist, and the affected group has no possibility to speak out against it. At the same time, the group in the position of power is defined as the "norm". An example of this is the question of a person's "real" origin.

When people refer to not seeing "skin color" and argue that these characteristics supposedly do not play a role in their patterns of thinking and behavior, this is referred to as "Color Blindness" (Important: This use of the term leads to devaluation of blindness). The process of "color-ignorant racism" denies BIPoC's lived experiences of discrimination. Racism is thus denied as an ongoing and structural problem. Existing unequal power relations, privileges and unequal access to social resources such as education and the labor market are ignored for racialized people.

The abbreviation "BIPoC" stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The term is a political and empowering self-designation that identifies commonalities between communities with different historical backgrounds. On the one hand, BIPoC are exposed to various forms of racism and on the other hand, the term points out that not all BIPoC experience racism in the same way.