Printing in the pandemic

Printing in the pandemic

The University of Oldenburg, on the whole, has taken a considered and careful approach to the whole coronavirus pandemic. (And to those people who are already screaming that I should be saying “COVID-19”, don’t ever let me hear you refer to “the flu” or “influenza”, ok?) One could only wish that most governments had reacted the same way. Since Spring 2020, most of the University has had to work from home and any actual physical presence in the University was kept to an essential, bare minimum in a balance between the needs of the students with the current threat of the pandemic. Given the use of the word “essential”, it should be clear that most admin types were working from home.

There is, however, an inherent problem to the latter. German bureaucracy is not exactly designed for the 21st century. And, come to think about it, not really for the 20th century either. It’s all paper based, you see. Every important and not-so-important document has to be printed out; otherwise, it doesn’t count. Electronic documents? No way.

But, don’t ever let it be said that the wheels of German bureaucracy don’t grind with stereotypical German efficiency. Although virtually the entire University had been working from home since Spring 2020, it took until Autumn 2020 for a directive to finally be issued that allowed people to print documents on their home printers. Equally mind boggling to the fact that it (only) took six months for this permission to be granted were some of the conditions under which home printing could only occur:

     1. Documents categorized as “for your eyes only” could not be printed at home.

(Ok, fair enough. There are things as data privacy and we don’t want all our information spilling out into the public domain like this. That’s what Facebook and social media in general are for. But what information could the University possibly have that requires double-O status to read?)

     2. All documents were to be retrieved from the printer immediately (if not sooner).

     3. All documents were to be kept under lock and key.

Again, I understand things like data privacy. But, I sincerely hope that most admin types aren’t married to foreign agents (with “foreign” here meaning an evil nation outside of Germany or even an evil university outside of Oldenburg) or identity thieves eager to get their hands on such privileged information. (Or are raising their kids to be one or the other.) Most normal people actually go running at the mere hint of these kinds of documents.

In any case, you do have to wonder what all the admin types were doing for those six months ...

(Stand: 17.11.2020)