U.S. Election Night at Bucerius

From party plans to going fully remote

Bucerius Law School has a very special relationship with the United States. Not only was it founded twenty years ago with the example of U.S. law schools in mind but still today, almost one third of its 99 partner law schools around the world are located in the United States. A large group of Bucerius students spend their study abroad trimester in the U.S. and/or complete their LLM studies at one of the outstanding law schools in the country.

It is therefore no surprise that the interest in the U.S. presidential election is high among students, faculty and staff. The person who is chosen to head the U.S. government does not only affect politics on a global scale, they also affect the possibilities for intercultural and academic exchange that is so dear to the Bucerius community.

In 2008 and 2016 Bucerius hosted large election night parties with discussions, food, music and hundreds of guests. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plans were much more restrained for this year but it was unimaginable not to have any event on the occasion of the election. Initially, the organization team around Miriam Jobst, Paul Strothmann and Inga Diercks-Ferm had hoped for an election party but due to the pandemic planned an event for up to 120 guests with discussions taking place in the lecture hall tent on campus and some smaller lecture halls in the main building, which would be livestreamed to the rest of the Bucerius community. Over time, as Covid-related restrictions on events became increasingly strict, the number of guests allowed became more limited until, in the end, a decision was made to only host the event online.

For this purpose, the moot court lecture hall was turned into a veritable TV studio which impressed even the journalist David Patrician who hosted the event. Martin Meier, Head of Bucerius Event’s event technology department and his team consisting of Jannick Matern, Lars Ippich and Lauritz Gerlach did an outstanding job setting up a broadcast that could rival professional TV productions.

Bucerius spokesperson Jonathan Schramm brought various different news organizations to campus to report about the event. The resulting articles and TV reports can be found below.

The livestream was kicked off with welcome remarks by Bucerius Vice-CEO Benedikt Landgrebe and U.S. Consul General in Hamburg Darion Akins. The next hour and a half was dominated by a panel discussion lead by David Patrician. He discussed a wealth of topics that are relevant to the polarization of U.S. society with Hamburg-based American journalist Jiffer Bourguignon, Director of the American Club Hamburg Annalee McWilliams, Professor Susan Simone Kang from Bucerius partner university Boston College Law School and Frankfurt-based Lieutenant General (Rt.) Ben Hodges from the Center of European Policy Analysis. Ben Hodges and Susan Simone Kang participated in the event via video conferencing.

The panel discussion was followed by short lectures by Professor Simone Kang on “The Road to January 20” and from Bucerius alumnus Dr. Kilian Wegner who shared “Tales from the Campaign Trail” about his time campaigning with Bernie Sanders in 2016.

The livestream ended around 1 am when the first exit polls came in. Staff and online viewers surely stayed up after this to follow this nail biter of an election throughout the rest of the night.

Professor Simone Kang and Annalee McWilliams gave follow-up interviews to the ARD Tagesthemen and Hamburg 1 the next day.

The Bucerius community continues to follow the news and hopes for a smooth transition period.

A special thanks goes to the ZEIT Stiftung for their support of the event, the U.S. Consulate General Hamburg and our cooperation partner the American Club Hamburg e.V., without whom this event would not have been possible.

If you missed the event, you can still watch it on the Bucerius YouTube Channel.


Inga Diercks-Ferm