Interview by Madeline Covino
Please introduce yourself.
My name Apollon Thomopoulos and I’m Greek, from Athens, Greece. But the truth is, I’m more of an international student, as I’ve spent fifteen of my eighteen years abroad.
What do you think the role of a student representative at Sciences Po Reims is/should be?
The way I see the role of a student representative, but also envision myself in one, is that of a serious and committed person who efficiently represents the voice of each and every student. I’m a proponent of direct representation, that is not promoting your own agenda as a person but the agenda of the students themselves. This is something that I personally want to do and it is, in a way, a form of direct democracy. So all in all, a student representative is an efficient, committed, and hardworking person that takes representation seriously and works for student interests at all levels and all costs.
Why are you running to be a student representative?
It is actually a decision I have not taken lightly. The main reason is that I love change. As dramatic as this may sound, I always have a vision of things and how they can improve. Especially when it comes to the community and the things around you, the campus in this case, I can see a better version of it. And this is the version I want to realize and make come true. The second reason is that I love representation and I want the people who are too afraid to speak up to be able to express their opinion. I ask the question “if not me, then who?” and this is because I have had previous experience in student representation. In fact, I was president of the student council at my former school and I was able to bring some tangible and concrete change. And this is what I want to do at Sciences Po.
What makes you qualified for this position?
As I mentioned, I used to be the president of my student council at my former school, and I was elected by a student body of over 1200 students. For a year, I represented their voice at multiple levels with administration, with teachers, meeting with various representatives inside and outside of school. I was also a member of the Medezeggenschapsraad which is basically the school’s board of administration. As a part of this, I was able to lobby fiercely for student interests and achieve some tangible results. That includes a change of the student constitution or charter, which increased their (the students’) negotiating power. The second thing is that I changed the clothing protocol of the school as a lot of girls particularly, but also boys, complained that it was discriminatory. The female guidelines were rather sexist. Thirdly, I created a platform of communication where each student was able to directly express their opinion and voice. I also did other minor things like changing the food in the canteen, minor events, etc. I see myself being able to do something similar here, at Sciences Po.
As a student representative what would be your mission/main goals (i.e. explain your platform)?
My main goal would be to have every student express their opinion through the platform. This platform, its very essence is that it’s anonymous. We have certain people that can write a ten paragraph Facebook post about the most controversial topic and have no problem telling us their concerns, but there are some people that have trouble expressing their feelings because they are shy by nature. I want everyone to be able to express their opinions and concerns. So my main project would be to create a platform that would allow for direct democracy, direct representation. The second part would be to analyze the responses on a bimonthly basis. But each student would be anonymously able to, any day at any time, send us their concerns. Also on a weekly basis, the student representative agenda will be updated, which will be available to everyone on a common Google Drive document so that they (the students) know what we are fighting for and what we want to achieve for them.
What is the one thing that as a student representative, you’d like to change or reform?
The main thing I’d like to reform is what the students want and the responses I get from the platform. However, two other major projects that I’d like to undertake would be first, to review the reform of the academic curriculum that was done by Sciences Po as current 1A students are undertaking a different program from 2A students. For example, we are not going to be able to specialize as much in the second year which to me is deeply concerning. Changes were also made to the first semester mathematics curriculum and less hours were devoted to languages, which some deem as positive, some as negative. But this is something that I’d like to review to make sure that it is something students are happy with. I’d also like to review the official charter of student representatives as up to now, the status of student representatives is in a type of grey zone. I want to make them more formal as an organization and organize an intercampus organization to solidify our negotiation power with the Sciences Po administration.
Finally, if could be any living person for a day, who would you be and why?
I would probably choose to be the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Not only because I admire him as a person, but mostly because I think that his position is one that allows for change. The European Union is an institution which I personally admire and I think it is a pole of unity in today’s world of segregation. It is also an institution that has brought tangible changes in our lives such as ensuring better privacy rights for us against multinational technology corporations. It has done amazing things such as the Schengen Zone and the Euro and as President of the European Commision, I think that I could bring even more change to this world and make this world a better place.
Photo: Simone Richler