Refugees, Le Pen & Polls

By Megan Evershed

On the first day I went to go visit the refugees, there was a dead bird desiccating on the pavement outside of their apartment building. I turned to Lili, the girl who I was volunteering with, and made a face at her.

Before getting on the bus to a part of town I had never been to before, we had been given strict instructions not to give the refugees our phone number, not to tell anyone else in the apartment complex what we were doing there, and to keep a low profile. Needless to say, I was nervous and the rotting bird corpse was not helping my peace of mind. Nonetheless, we rang the doorbell to their apartment and were buzzed through the door.

Climbing four flights of stairs, I didn’t know what to expect. I had signed up to Interagir on a whim. I had never had any experience working with social justice issues, but I felt that I needed to do something to get outside of my campus bubble. Now here I was, notebook in hand, heart in my mouth, knocking on the door.

In 2016, there were 85,244 applicants seeking asylum in France. Out of these, there were 18,555 people claiming refugee status. The majority of these refugees are from Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Syria. About 150 of those with refugee status have settled in Champagne-Ardenne. Noor and Mustafa and their two daughters are four of these refugees, and are the family who I work with.

Over the nine months I worked with them, they quickly became staple figures in my life. Noor welcomed us each week with a warm “Bienvenue,” Mustafa following with a jolly “Ça va?” As we built up a friendship with them, they became more comfortable with us. Noor would pray in the room while we were there, which Lili and I took as a profound display of trust. We would talk about laïcité in France, the upset Noor felt at having to remove her hijab to take a government photo, and the strange looks they got from neighbors.

In a country where Islamophobia and xenophobia have gripped the ongoing presidential election, the wariness Noor and Mustafa’s neighbors felt upon a Syrian family moving in next door isn’t that surprising. France has been in a state of emergency since late 2015 when the Paris attacks took place, and terrorism and immigration have been central topics in tabacs, kitchens, and cafes ever since then. Marine LePen, presidential candidate for the Front National, has made crushing terrorism a vital part of her platform. And the French are responding to her calls.

In a historical election where none of the mainstream political parties were elected to the second round, it’s safe to say she’s gotten her message through. The vote followed the death of a policeman on the Champs Elysées, who was killed by an “Isil-inspired” French national. Following the news of the attack, Le Pen called for the reinstitution of border checks and the expulsion of foreigners who are on watch lists. Many of her critics feared the attack would increase her voting percentage in the first round, which she passed with 21.7% of the vote.

In fact, she seems to be increasing her popularity. On April 27th, Presitrack recorded that Marine Le Pen would likely garner 41% of the vote in the second round, which was up one percent from just the day before. It’s plausible that with the intense atmosphere of xenophobia already bubbling in France, Le Pen’s percentages could grow before the May 7th voting date.

Of course, it’s not just France where we’ve seen presidential candidates capitalizing on fear and Islamophobia. In Trump’s America, where two travels bans have been passed and the government is attempting to fulfill the campaign promise of banning all Muslims, we need openness more than ever. I have lived in the US for ten years and became a green card holder only a few years ago. The first travel ban included a restriction on the entry of green card holders. Going to school in France, it struck me that if I came from Iran instead of the UK, I wouldn’t be allowed to go home.

More importantly, however, a family like Noor and Mustafa’s would not able to seek refuge in a country purportedly devoted to liberty and welcoming the “huddled masses.” For the sake of Noor and Mustafa, I hope we won’t see a repeat of the US presidential election. They’ve already suffered enough, and having Le Pen in the Palais Elysée would be an insult to their struggle.

SPE List: Greenception

Cyrielle Goldberg, President of Greenception, interviewed by Mark Narusov

17903335_1283382341783033_3147807639297185869_n.jpgThe debate that took place on the 19th of April between the two lists running for the leadership of the Sciences Po Environnement bureau — Greenception and SPEcimen — proved to be substantive, non-confrontational and informative.

Cyrielle Goldberg, the president of the Greenception list, declared that the main priority for the list would be “being a stronger bureau in Reims”[1]. She elaborated: “Our main points are to develop the panier bio, especially for those who benefit from bursary funds; to do another COP simulation, because the COP 22 worked really well. Regarding the city itself, we’d like to be further implanted inside the city with more partnerships, more deals with restaurants, and more initiatives to have a greener city and be more present.” Grégoire d’Allest, Co-Head of Communications, added that for Greenception it is also important to impact other bureaux, “to make them more responsible, to make them greener.” He elaborated: “Rather than buying plastic cups all the time, to buy large amounts of eco-cups– say 300– and share them at the beginning of the year.”

Answering the question of which single project they would implement if they could, Cyrielle stated that her list would prioritize the Cop-23 summit: “Cop 23 would be the most important. This year when they did it, it was really difficult to organize. But we’ve seen just how much of a success it’s been, and how people can get more involved in the environment on a political level. For COP 23, I think we’d like to go farther, and implement it as a tradition.”

Asked about whether their list was based on friendship or other criteria, Cyrielle said: “We asked everyone from the association this year what they expected for next year. We drew in a mixture of motivated old people as well as new people, based fully on personal motivation as well as the fact they must be environmentalists. Friendship ties played a minimal role, which is what makes it really diverse”.

I decided to ask Greenception a question that would allow their representative to directly address the differences between the two competing lists.

Why should people vote specifically for your list? How are you different from SPEcimen?

As we’ve seen in the debate, in our vision of ecology in general, we are quite similar. We have different ideas in our programs and how to do what, but I don’t think that if, for example, [president of the SPEcimen list] Anton was to give me one of his ideas I would refuse to do it. I think I would be interested just as much. What I see our difference is mainly is experience. We have half of our members who have been in the association. Of course, you could tell me that, well, it’s exactly the same for other bureaus — there is one list with what we call “the babies”, and the other one with new people, and why shouldn’t they be just as legitimate to be elected? I think it’s really different in Sciences Po Environnement because first of all, you don’t have to be part of the bureau to be part of the association. You can be part of the bureau and you’re just here to ask some questions and propose projects, and you have people in the association working with you, and they can give you just as many ideas as you have in the executive or in your bureau. In the other bureaux you have to be part of the bureau to work on its projects. What I think is very important for SPE is that there is a very specific way of dealing with money, dealing with partnerships. We didn’t have much money this year. We didn’t even have a treasurer because it was an association and not a bureau. I think it’s very different. For example, the member of our list who was in the paniers Bio pole this year is head of the pole in our list. She knows exactly what kind of vegetable and stuff goes here, how you get them and so on. And also, just technical stuff, like the panier bio. I think it’s really necessary. I learnt this year what could or couldn’t be accomplished, particularly in regards to the administration. For example, Anton talked about the compost, which I think is an excellent idea. The thing is, we have tried it this year, and the administration is really strict about what they will let us do on campus. Being in SPE for a year showed me how I could solve this problem and have [the administration] be a bit more welcoming towards green initiatives.”

[1] The quote is from a transcription of the debate that was written by Zak Vescera and published in the Sundial (

BDE List: Freimds

Kenza Halimi, President of Friemds, interviewed by Sara Sanabria


Why did you choose your BDE name?

We choose the name because of the relationship to the Friends show. We found that it corresponds with the spirit of the team and the type of campaign we wanted to produce. Like the characters in the show, we too are a dynamic group of individuals who are all friends at the end of the day. As well, the name highlights the idea of bringing students of the campus together.

What is your ultimate goal as a list?

Like the name, our ultimate goal is to bring together the integration of the campus. We want to promote diversity and we see this as a strength of our list. We hope to balance day and night life events to fit with the diversity of our student body and promote cohesion.

What is the biggest quality of the other BDE list?

The biggest quality is their communication and the way they craft an image for themselves. They have good visuals and they are very good at promoting their image and their vision for the BDE. Their vision however, is different from ours, as ours focuses on inclusion through a diversity of events and projects. Their vision, from what we observed, is very professional and based on a good marketing which is a different direction than ours.

What does reliability mean to your list and how do you plan to be a reliable BDE next year?

Transparency. It means regular reports of what projects are and how they are developing. Along with reliability, we believe there must be trust, which means not just talking about issues, but proactively solving them as well as executing projects and respecting the engagements made in the campaigns.

What do you see is the biggest obstacle you will have to face as a BDE next year and how do you plan to tackle it?

Achieving the integration that everyone talks about. We believe that regular day and night events are not what brings people together. Instead, we would like to see creative solutions to bridge together the Eurams, Eurafs and exchange students. For example, looking at Potter Week we found that if you give a common goal to the student body, they will unconsciously integrate. We would like to build off of this and create events for this purpose or perhaps integrate this element into other events.

How would you describe your list in 1-3 words?

We like to push boundaries so I’ll say Building the bridges; bringing people together.’

AS List: SportsContenders

Joséphine Zilioli, interviewed by Gaëlle Fournier


What did you think of this Campaign week? How is it going? What events have you attended?

It was really crazy! We had a lot of fun, it has created incredible links between the members of the list even though we didn’t necessarily know each other before. The Campaign week is a huge amount of stress and zero sleeping hours, but we try our best to make it fun so everyone on campus can make the most of it. And it seems to work, the people are super happy. Our biggest success was the chocolate. We delivered some throughout the Easter weekend and we distributed it every day on campus. It pleases everyone! We also held a Color Run, and a treasure hunt in Reims with WhoArtYou, with Lacoste prizes and Krug Champagne as prizes. On campus, every day has corresponded to a sport: football, basketball, body strength… The equipment was made available and everyone could play! We even established a betting system so everyone, even athletes, could participate and attempt to win prizes. People seemed to enjoy it, we had good feedback with the activity. We also had a lot of collaborations with the other lists: a huge workout session with Greeception, a club night with Dom Périmion, an evening with FREIMDS… But our biggest event is this Saturday: a huge PARK DAY! We hope you are ready.

Why should we vote for Sports Contenders?

First and foremost, because we are efficient. The list was created later than the others and we have succeeded at accomplishing a lot in very little time. If our team works so well and has such a good atmosphere, it’s because we get along well! Of course, we are all different: each one of us brings a little yet necessary addition. The duo Mamadou-Marie (President/VP) works marvellously,  Mamadou has an unparalleled energy, he is always motivated for everything, and Marie is a born organiser. Our goal is to be really accessible, we truly want to be inclusive because that’s one of the sport values, and because it’s what brings us together. The idea is that we are passionate about what we do and we want to share that as much as possible. Beyond that, we are conscious about what the role of the AS is, and what the AS should be like on a growing campus. We know the problems teams are confronted with (12 members out of 14 are in a sports team), but we’re also concerned with exchange students, independent athletes and less athletic people. We have solutions to these problems and having the opportunity to ameliorate things would be a great present!

If you were to be elected, what would be your main objectives and missions next year?

We really want to promote integration via information: we hope to create informational modules to inform all the students, and especially international and exchange students, on the list of sports available at Sciences Po and in Reims. We have remarked that at this point that the inscriptions pédagogique for sport were confusing for the exchange students: we want to change that. Beyond this, we also want to invite non-athletes to become more interested in what the AS does; for this, we hope to democratise sport as much as possible by organising accessible events (yes, that’s really our moto), *laughs* during which everyone can have fun! To do this, it will be crucial to collaborate with other bureaux and associations. The objective is to put sport back at the centre of student life. Yet we obviously won’t forget the sports teams: we created a pole especially for them, the Relationship pole, which is an intermediary between teams and the administration, because that’s also what the AS is about. These are our principal objectives, but I recommend anyone willing to learn a bit more to go on our Facebook page and to read our detailed program.

What would be different in comparison to the current AS and the other list, Asvengers?

We want to ameliorate the relations between teams and administrations, whether that be with the Mairie (city council) or with Sciences Po, by creating a new Relationship pole. We hope to establish monthly meetings with the sports team captains as to obtain their feedback and discuss the problems they face, so we can do our best to solve them and eventually transmit all of this to the administration: one of our first aims, which we share with Asvengers, is to obtain sports fields which are closer and more accessible for training. We would start negotiating with the competent authorities as soon as elected, so starting from May. We would to also obtain from the administration the authorisation to allow absences on Thursday afternoon to participate in the games organised by FFSU (inter-universities games). Also, something the other list does not offer, is to ameliorate the campus spirit and communication between the two Euraf and Euram programs, by organising friendly matches between the programs: above all, we hope to popularise the local games between universities so you can support your favorite team! Of course, we want to perpetuate what has already become a tradition: the Trashernity, but go further. Indeed, we want to extend this team spirit all year/semester-long! Independently of our program or status, we will organise students and teams for monthly competitions: football, runs, yoga, arm wrestling… The winning team would receive a prize at the end of the year/semester. Thanks to our sponsorships with Footing+ and Saint Remi Sport, we will do our best to accelerate the confection and distribution of sports shirts, so we are ready for the first WEIC of the year! For those who are not in a team, we have not forgotten you!  We have obtained special reductions especially reserved for you, Sciences Po students, on all the sport articles at Footing+ and Saint Remi Sport, which are 3 minutes away from campus! You no longer have the need to go to Décathlon or Go Sport, you get 20% off!

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

In terms of positions, we share a bit everything during the Campaign week, so everything is best handled. If we are elected, I would be in the Communication pole with Justine Sène (Euram) and Chloé Rochet (Euraf). I believe I have a place in this trio in the sense that I am reactive and I like knowing how things evolve, which is essential for doing good comm’: the person in charge of communication needs to know exactly what is happening in each pole to be the most transparent and precise possible in what they transmit to students. My curiosity and my involvement in the list allows me to be efficient in comm’ and to be relatively visible in this overbooked Campaign week.

What is your experience in this domain?

I am on Facebook 24/7! At the beginning, I was in the Events pole, but I turned out to be more efficient in communication and it’s what I like to do, because without comm’, events that we prepare in the Events pole would not be able to occur. It’s especially demanding and you have to master social networks, but it’s truly fulfilling and I like it a lot.

If you were a famous athlete, who would you be and why?

Not a bad question! I grew up watching handball, my family is a fan and all my brothers have done [handball], so I would say Thierry Omeyer, who has now retired, or one of the Karabatic brothers. I even met them once, a total coincidence. Frankly, they’re super tall.

BDA List: Who Art You?

Aurora Hawcroft, President, interviewed By Alexandra Junge


Introduce yourself and tell me a fun fact about yourself

Hi I’m Aurora Hawcroft and I’m from Australia. I’m born on New Years Day and I have a pet turtle. I am currently accepting donations of sleep, coffee, and peanut butter.

Why did you want to join the BDA?

Well, I joined the baby BDA last year mainly because art plays a really big role in my life. Wherever you are it’s so important for me to find the culture and artistic side of who you are surrounded by. Therefore, when I came to Reims I wanted to both show my art and access everyone’s artistic side on campus

What is behind your BDA name: Who Art You?

We want to evolve the art on campus, and not just be there for those who already know that they’re artistic, but for those that don’t know that they have an artistic side yet. That is why our name is Who Art You – because it makes people think about who they are from an artistic perspective. It’s about helping people find their identity and sparking that artistic side in everyone.

How would you describe your team?

Dynamic, multi-talented, extremely hard working, a bit weird, and eclectic. When we put the list together, we wanted to put people in the respective poles they were passionate about and really loved. We really wanted people that are passionate, and we think this will be contagious. I think we’re working really well together and becoming really close.

How do you see the BDA evolve over the next year?

The BDA did a great job last year but we want to be more active, especially in terms of night events next year. We all also saw how FDA was absolutely amazing, it really showed off the artistic capacity on campus and we really want to showcase this from the start of the very beginning of the school year. We want to showcase all kinds of music and find new venues. Additionally, with the new buildings we will have more access to music and art rooms, which we will monitor and we want to ensure they are going to be used to their full extent. We want to be known as a community on campus that is fun, accessible, and approachable for everyone!

What has been your favorite part of campaign week so far?

*Laughs nervously* Besides the rap battle I had with Pr. Muldoon, I couldn’t just say one event. Honestly, at this point we are all so sleep deprived, but it has been so lovely to see everyone in the glass hallway and at the events everyday, and really putting their heart and soul into their work. I love how it’s bringing out a sense of community on campus and within the groups.

How does not having a competing list influence your campaign?

We’ve not let it influence the campaign because we want to put in all our effort. We want to show how we will be as a BDA. We have also collaborated with all the other lists for at least one event and I have to say it’s been great to get to know the other lists, and I’m sure whoever gets elected will do great next year.

What kind of BDA president do you want to be?

Within our team I want to be approachable, and a leader that can co-ordinate everyone’s ideas. On campus, I want to be someone who represents the international scene and just works on mixing a wide variety of people on campus. I just really want to show people great art and think outside the box. For me, it’s all about the arts and I just want to showcase this in the best way possible.

SPE Debate: April 19th 2017

Moderators: Megan Evershed and Gaelle Fournier for the Sundial Press

For Greenception: Cyrielle Goldberg, Grégoire D’Allest

For Specimen: Anton Mukhamedov, Jake Jackowski

Megan: Okay we’re getting started…Zak you’re transcribing? If both teams could just present their programs in two minutes to begin?

Cyrielle: We are Greenception. Our program is mainly based on the idea of being a stronger bureau in Reims. Our main points are to develop the panier bio, especially for those who benefit from bursary funds; to do another Cop simulation, because the COP 22 worked really well. Regarding the city itself, we’d like to be further implanted inside the city with more partnerships, more deals with restaurants, and more initiatives to have a greener city and be more present.

Gregoire: And as the fourth bureau, we’d like to see us influencing the other three bureaux to make them more responsible, to make them greener. Rather than buying plastic cups all the time, to buy large amounts of eco-cups– say 300– and share them at the beginning of the year.

Anton: We’re Specimen. I’m Anton, I’m president, and this is Jake, who will be responsible for the Paniers bio if he’s elected. We think that Sciences Po Environnement has a huge potential to connect many actors on campus as well as on the local level. Here on campus, a lot of people are motivated to help the environment, but many people either don’t have opportunities to help out or they are not aware of them. Our plan is to make these issues more accessible by hosting regular spaces to discuss environmental affairs and assist in integrating that into student life. We don’t believe that we are too small to make change, but rather that within the prism of this campus that we can make the campus more sustainable. But for that, we need the information to make the campus more sustainable. We’d like to install a carbon and material footprint report that would be published monthly. We also plan to increase all the current projects in place on campus, by creating a partnership with farmers to make a farmers market on campus and sensibilizing students to important agricultural issues on campus.

Gaelle: If you had one project you could implement, what would it be?

Cyrielle: Cop 23 would be the most important. This year when they did it, it was really difficult to organize. But we’ve seen just how much of a success it’s been, and how people can get more involved in the environment on a political level. For COP 23, I think we’d like to go farther, and implement it as a tradition.

Gregoire: I really want to have COP as a discussion space to pool students from really diverse origins. RIMUN this year was very successful, and If we can make cop 23 as successful as RIMUN, that would be excellent.

Jake: The most important part of our platform would be a carbon footprint report. I think finding the extent to which we contribute to global warming and finding concrete steps to reducing our footprint– reducing water use, for example, would be a really concrete action.

Anton: Carbon footprint is not seen as a single measure but as something that really connects everything. It would allow students to feel responsible and help us form working groups to reduce that footprint together once we have that information, and whether we can utilize things like rain water for Sciences Po Potager and other projects. It wouldn’t just be a solid figure or number, but a series of sectors that would let us know about the various “ecological weights” on campus.

Gregoire: If I might, the footprint of food products at the CROUS is available on campus in the cafeteria.

Anton: Yes, but we don’t know the monthly level of carbon–

Grégoire: But especially for the Crous–

Anton: But we don’t know how much per month is consumed. We need that in order to negotiate and find more sustainable options.

Gregoire: But on an individual level, you already know, and that’s what allows you to —

M: Alright, let’s move to the next question. What will you guys do different from the current bureau?

Anton: Well, we actually appreciated a lot of the projects that SPE did this year. We would like to expand what’s already been done. For COP 23, I don’t want to plagiarize but it really is an important project and we’d like to invite ecologists on campus to give feedback and really expose us to their knowledge. We’d like to see greater exposure with the Panier bio and the potager programs. We also think that despite the great work SPE does, many students do not feel a part of it. We want to create stronger ties between the bureau and the student body.

Cyrielle: We think that one of the main things might be communication, so every student feels like they can act at their own level to see how they can be useful and what impact they can have. Sometimes when we speak of the environment, it feels far away, like we can’t affect it; we wanna sensibilize people onto the impact they can have.

Gaelle: Why did you want to run for SPE?

C: I wanted to run because at the start of the year I wasn’t really implicated  in  the association. As I kept working, I saw just how much we could do with so little. On a personal side, I’d like to work in environmentalism and I come from a city that has a lot of political and social action dedicated to environmental affairs– like bike lanes and sustainable design for example. I’d like to see similar actions being implemented in Reims.

G: For the whole first semester I wasn’t engaged in any association really, but the one that stood out the most on campus was SPE. I didn’t do COP 22, but I heard so much about it that I regretted doing it. We took Panier Bio in 23nd semester and always regretted not doing it before. I think that it’s really important to show that it’s an association that can take from the beginning of the year to the end. I’m tired of missing opportunities.

J: I don’t think any of us aren’t environmentalists. I wasn’t really in the loop for SPe events in the first semester and really want to continue with what I did in high school in environmental associations and push for activism here on campus.

A: On a personal level, I’ve always been interested in ecological problems on the macro level– I’ve read a lot of analyses. Then I realized it was much more interesting to apply this in terms of local solutions, because for each problem there are several solutions. Even in food waste, for example, we see there are so many alternatives to living a different life and using our waste effectively and creating. Having talked to other people I felt like I could bring some more connections to create this list.

M: How did you guys come up with the name?

A: We hesitated about our name for quite a while, but when we heard Specimen we kinda fell in love with it. Because of the meaning that the word Specimen carries; it means a lot of stuff and the very definition of it is something that stands out to represent a species. It makes people think.

J: Our original team name was “special snowflakes”, I’m really glad we changed.

C: We had lots of ideas, but one day it was like “Green Ception”

G: Shout out to [not clear]

C: Everyone voted unanimously for it because we liked the idea of “planting ideas” in people’s heads like they do in the dream, only we’re planting, not stealing ideas. We’re creating urgency to make change.

G: We also liked the ideas of layers– layers of the dreams, layers of action. We both have good names.

Gaelle: Did you form your list based on friendship or other opportunities?

J: Not just on friendship. For example, I didn’t know a lot of people in the list. Anton was the person who roped me in I would say– so I think everyone connects back to him in a certain sense, but we draw from a diverse pool of students– many are international, some are LGBT, and other students all come from diverse walks of life.

A: I connected the people, but I didn’t know many of them before speaking to them about this project. I spoke to a lot of people to see how motivated and environmentalist they were. So this list was based on ideas. When people had an idea I thought was interesting, we were inclusive with it. Even if someone wasn’t friend’s with us, we always welcome them into our list to suggest things. Friendship was the goal but not criteria.

C: We asked everyone from the association this year what they expected for next year. We drew in a mixture of motivated old people as well as new people, based fully on personal motivation as well as the fact they must be environmentalists. Friendship ties played a minimal role, which is what makes it really diverse.

G: I wasn’t in the association before, and I didn’t know most of the people before. Cyrielle and Ines were really successfully in pulling interested and competent people into the final project.

M: Okay, now we’re taking a question submitted by the student body. “How is your vision different from the other list? I’m worried because often communication is in French, or the English translation is riddled with errors. As an English speaker I’m concerned we’ll be ignored next year” That seems like two questions, so let’s start with the second.

C: Well, sorry for the mistakes, but we have anglophones in both our lists….

J: And we’re doing the debate in English.

C: We do everything bilingually.

C: There are english people in our list, of course they’ll be involved.

A: I didn’t spot any grammatical mistakes in our programs. I think the question is fair because something could be lost in translation, though. Some of the criticism we heard is that we have too many anglophones, but I’m confident that this problem can be resolved as I’m a french speaker, and we have many strong french speakers or francophones on our list. There are solutions to any problem, and the posts we make are usually translated. When we make a post just in english, it’s to quickly get the point across in a  time of urgency.

M: So how is your vision different from the other list?

C” I don’t think it’s that different. Maybe some technical things, but it’s not like we’re so different. We like the same things and have the same vision of ecology

G: I really think that what is going to be the decisive factor for voters are who we see more as enviro-friendly, or maybe just competence. Competence more than the former. I think we’re all for the same cause in the end. And regarding the last question. I don’t see how SPE could favor francophones.

A: Well the first question is hard to answer without trying to interpret the other lists vision, which I wouldn’t dare to do. But even when we speak about such a common goal like ecology, there are differences. We’re united by a lot of the same principles, but we really tried to offer something unique with our program. I personally want people to vote on programs, whether they are relevant and applicable. The vision our list has, I would say, is holistic in that it tries to create links between levels and actors in a systematic way– not only thinking of small things we can improve but also how we can make the system work in such a way so as to improve as many things as possible.

G: From that, we might be more bottom-up. We won’t be able to go further– like to the national level– and are scared we might lose ourselves, even with our operations at the regional level we’re already stretched thin.

A: The only thing we can dare to do on the national level is cooperating with other SPE programs to share ideas in the country, and possible put more pressure on the sciences po administration in the national level. But systemic change only comes with bottom up pressure, so we need to be responsible and transfer some of that to the student body whenever they are ready and committed to doing it. Decentralization is important to us.

G: Another question from the student body: What new events and programs to you plan to bring to the campus?

A: For instance, we mentioned water collection on campus for Potager. This is something very small that has a very symbolic impact, it might seem small or silly but there’s a lot that can be done in that. Ecology is also about dealing with what we have already, and the student lounge might become a very welcoming space if we can bring plants and discussions to the space to use it properly.

J: Making recycling more visible on campus is a small and easy concrete step, as well.

G: We have a fridge in the student lounge that is basically always empty. We like to see what’s happening with Residium and bring it to campus, so that when you leave on a holiday you can leave things there and people can take it and eat it in the idea of limited waste. People are also lost as to what they can throw in the recycling box– their greasy pizzas and such–, so I think we need more communication on this.

A: I think people also feel that recycling is a bit useless, that waste all goes in the same place. Our questionnaire found that recycling came up really often and was a big priority on campus.

C: I think people need to understand what happens to the rubbish they throw out– it’s not just going in the bin. People might see SPE as a joke, but we really need to make clear that we are necessary.

M: How do you justify giving out free meat and plastic cups when there are detrimental effects for the environment?

C: Well, we had a bbq with the AS and we were attacked by Specimen–

A: There is someone from our list who posted a comment. Whether I agree with that comment or not is irrelevant, but we took no official stance.

C: We’d like to respond that we are aware of the effects of meat on the ecosystem. But it was an interlist event and it’s the AS, of course they’re going to have meat. We didn’t contribute to buying meat, we had organic fruits and vegetables for people who wanted a different meal. We only brought recycled eco-cups for the list.

G: And plastic dishes that we washed and reused. The meat we gave out was taken from someone who would have otherwise thrown it out, so it would have been wasted otherwise.

A: I think the more useful strategy for this campaign is not to condemn. Our alternative to that event is the vegan bbq on saturday to which you’re all invited. We don’t want to involve ourselves with anything involving meat, but we’re aware of the plastic problem and we have cups made from a recyclable, returnable plastic from the same material as your cups. We bought plastic cups for juice but only because we didn’t have enough of the former cups. We’re aware of the problem and are switching our strategy.

G: Some people have complained about their mental health on campus– any solutions from SPE to address these issues?

C: Of course we can work with other bureaux. We’re trying to get a nap room on campus because students are just so exhausted.

J: I think that de-stressing is wonderful. We all need to do it and alleviate our stress.

A: I wanted to just mention our vice president is Monica. She is one of the people who is most committed to personal welfare and health, and she teachers yoga and added most of the well-being ideas to our list. I would very much like to go in the direction of improving student life, because ecology is also about personal welfare and how you feel. A very big chance that would transform a lot of stuff would be negotiations to remove classes between 8 and 10 AM, because studies have claimed that it is actually equivalent to torture in terms of mental health. I think having that discussion and working about working in discord with your own biological health would bring welfare.

C: I feel most effective in the morning, personally.

A: I’m not a scientist, but generally I think there needs to be a student- wide discussion on whether those classes are important for personal health.

C: I’d rather take away the ones from 5-7.

G: I think it’s also eating well– that’s important for mental health, which is why we need the panier bio. During exams you need carbs, things like potatoes, pasta, and rice to get people eating and sleeping well.

M: We’ll now open up to questions from the audience.

Teddy: Regarding Greenception’s point; you say the other list had a semblance of being active without being pragmatic–

G: We said we are more bottom-up.

A: One of the 4 sections of our platform is about student implication, actually.

Teddy: You said the COP 23 simulation was the most important thing to do. So the accusation of the other list of being pragmatic– don’t you think engaging in real change is more important than eating meat, simulations, having your T shirts made in Bangladesh…

GREENCEPTION LIST MEMBER: Our shirts are made in Belgium, actually.

Teddy: So if I take a peek back there, there won’t be any Bangladesh?

GREENCEPTION LIST MEMBER: I think you looked today actually, and you saw it was Belgium.

Teddy: Fair enough.

G: The COP 23 is not giving an example but rather to show– when you do a MUN simulation, for example, that stimulates interest in the subject and makes you passionate about it. For individuals doing the simulation that will likely be really important for them. It’s about engaging the individual into understanding what are the problems with doing environmentally friendly policies around the world, but also about what is happening. You need the causes to find the solutions.

C: In resolutions, you actually get to see what could be done about the problem. COP 23 is important for us, we agree on that, and we also agree on reducing sciences po’s carbon footprint– light, heating, and printing, because we know people like to get involved in that kind of thing.

GREENCEPTION LIST MEMBER 2: It’s also just not a symbol. Personally, I didn’t have interest in environmental protection during the COP 22, it’s’ really to deepen awareness of the student body. I think it’s great to change the lightbulb, but it’s also a great objective to make each student think about their own actions.

Teddy:  But is environmentalism not more about collective action more than individual reflection?

Marianne Carre (Greenception List Member): But you don’t have collective action if you don’t have action. COP 23 is more about the fact that if you’re talking about student engagement, and you’re saying that you need to engage students in environmental life, then this is the greater example to engage them. They’re loving what they’re doing, discovering a lot of things… you cannot force people to be environmentalists.

Teddy: I think it’s an interesting response. I’ve never had good experiences at MUN… I just seep people in suits, drinking and partying. I would prefer that the most important project be real environmental change.

C: The other projects are just as important.

Teddy: Fair enough.

G: Just to reiterate from the previous question: the plastic plates were reused.

Mark: Are you guys elected, or did you just assemble the lists?

C: We had a discussion of who wants to do what, and no one else wanted to be president. People liked their polls and I wanted to do more than just work in one poll, and I was very motivated to take concrete steps regarding the environment. And they said “sure”.

G: It was consensual.

A: When we started working on the list we were 3-5 people trying to get other people who are motivated and engaged. Since the beginning when the discussion positions of leadership happened, I said that I could be the president, but I would be fine with anyone else who is as engaged to be president. So yeah, there were no elections but it was very consensual. At one moment, we thought about whether Monica would be president, and I actually proposed that. We wanted to be co-presidents, but apparently it’s not possible, which is a pity.

Audience Member: Sciences Po students don’t meet other people at Reims: We have the other 3 Bureaux who organize things with other schools, other ideas?

C: Currently, we’ve written a petition for more bike paths in Reims which NEOMA and other students are helping us spread. We’d like to have a closure of this petition and then do something with them after, acknowledging that they have environmental associations that we can also work with. People are asking for petitions a lot– we’ve been told 5-6 times to ask for more recycling bins in Sciences Po.

Audience Member: But a petition is not about involvement– for example, trips that you do to Epernay maybe?

C: I mean, we are so far away from them [URCA], we don’t even know they exist. We’d like to organize more hiking trips with them if we can.

A: To get to know other students in Reims, we have to see what we can do together. Sciences po Reims students are far from the only ones with bikes, we’ve discussed partnering with an association that helps repair and recycle bikes. Very few people know about it that they can get their bikes to be repaired for free or even repair them themselves. with that, we could propose cooperation with other campuses in Reims by showing its in all of our interests to use this kind of service. As for more bike paths, for it to happen we’d need a lot of people interested in this who are willing to participate and willing to organize and put pressure on the Reims mayor.

C: Which is why we also participate with them [the bike association].

Mark: How politically engaged do you want to be? Would you endorse a candidate who is more ecologically friendly?

C: I don’t think that really matters. We’re apolitical, the important thing is that we support the environment and ecology.

A: We don’t endorse anyone officially. A lot of people in our list don’t have the same political opinions, and I don’t think it should be relevant. My opinion is that ecological candidates need to unite together, and that’s great for debate, but I think endorsing someone is counterproductive. No candidate can end climate change.

Teddy: How is ecology and the environment apolitical?

C: I think you can be right wing or left wing and still be an environmentalist; just in different ways. Left wing wants to stop consumerism and change growth, and the right just wants sustainable growth. They’re different ideas in the same list.

Teddy: Where do you place yourself?

C: I don’t think that matters. I support Hamon, but you could support Fillion and still be an environmentalist.

A: Same conception of this. Some of our ecology prizes are books, one of which analyzes the ecological propositions for all the candidates. Environmentalism might be political, but it shouldn’t reduce itself down to candidatures. That’s counterproductive.

Audience Member: Do you plan on organizing more conferences with guests?

C: The problem with conferences is you never know who is going to show up. If we can have more people here to speak that’d be great.

A: It was a great pity that there were not enough environmental activists or scientists or activists on campus this year. It’s a very crucial point, and while preparing for the campaign we received responses saying they’d be very willing to come next year, including people from Terre et humanisme and other permaculture organizations. We’d love to organize more discussions and conferences in a convivial setting.

Audience Member: Do you have any partnerships with restaurants in Reims?

C: We have le Cabasson, Chez Lou, and Symbiosez *(soap shop, organics) we do already have quite a few. Le cave a pain, as well.

A: We circled the bakeries in and outside of Reims to see what’s happening with food waste, and we were happy to see that a lot of them are in agreement with us. Bakeries and shops usually give unsold food to the homeless, which is something that is obviously really important. There are good things happening here, and if we’re not specifically talking about food waste, we don’t have many partnerships with restaurants. We focused on local urban agriculture organizations.

Sciences Po Students on the Battle for the Elysée Palace

By Jessie Williams

At a recent En Marche! rally in the Reims Centre des Congrés, young and old cheered and waved the tricolour as Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old independent centrist, bounced onto the stage. Floriane Graignic was one of those cheering; wearing an En Marche! T-shirt, the 19-year-old from Versailles was one of the youth organisers of the event which was attended by almost 1,300 people.

As the battle for the Elysée Palace enters the final countdown, a generation of young people are preparing to cast their vote for the first time. Those at Sciences Po Campus de Reims are eagerly awaiting the chance to have their say after an election campaign plagued by scandals. These are the students who will go on to shape the social and political landscape of France, so what do they think of the 2017 frontrunners?

Having joined the En Marche! campaign as soon as it started, Graignic’s vote is firmly with Macron. “I really like his position as a candidate that fits neither in the PS (Parti Socialiste) or Les Républicains but who seeks to gather people around a project that can really put France back on its feet. I like the idea of combining liberal economic reforms with social protection. And I also deeply believe in Europe’s future, which I think is at the center of his project.”

Macron has never held any elected mandate, which is a worry for some of his supporters, but not for Graignic. “I’d rather have someone with little political experience instead of someone who has never known anything else than politics.” She found the results of the primaries very interesting as they were so unexpected. “I think they reveal a profound desire for radical change on the part of the French population.”

Undecided voter, Stella Chene, a 19-year-old from Paris, agrees with Macron’s “guiding principles”, however she finds it “kind of scary” to vote for someone with such an undetailed program – as she has no idea how he will implement his plans. “I voted for Hamon in the socialist primaries – I am a member of the Socialist Party. But it was mostly to kick Manuel Valls out.” She does agree with some of Hamon’s policies, particularly with the idea of a universal wage and for his stance on feminism, but her priorities are the environment, a strong European Union, and helping refugees, so she feels more inclined to vote for Macron.

Realistically, Chene thinks she will do a “vote utile” (tactical vote) for Macron. “I am afraid that if I vote Mélenchon or Hamon, it will be Fillon vs. Le Pen in the second round, and that would be a really terrible situation for me – imagine my first second-round presidential vote having to be cast for Fillon!”

But most importantly, I find Macron inspiring. Before he launched his movement, I was already saying that political parties cause problems. They are too rigid; all members have to stick to an ideology or they are accused of backstabbing their political family – I think that’s detrimental to debate. I think it puts people into boxes that are not always relevant.”

As an aspiring politician, Chene hopes to run for presidency one day, and thinks that youth should be seen as a positive. “Experience is very important, but I think the supreme office shouldn’t be restricted to experts.” She says that it’s refreshing to have a newcomer: “Especially since En Marche! grew with citizen committees who participated in the drafting of the project.”

17-year-old Antoine Humbert disagrees with Chene; he doesn’t think Macron deserves a place in this campaign and says he only uses demagogy. Humbert describes him as “a banker who believed after less than three years in politics that he could run as a candidate for the presidential elections thanks to the financial support he received from his former colleagues”.

Despite not being old enough to vote in the coming election, Humbert has been following the build-up with interest and hopes that the National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen, will win. “I am a supporter of Le Pen as I believe that the European Project has come to an end and if we want our country to keep going forward, it must quit the European Union.”

With a possible Frexit on the cards, Humbert believes French households will see their purchasing power increase. “There will be more job creations as internal demand would shift upward and social inequalities will decrease as measures will be taken to improve the social conditions of poor people and better reallocate the state money.”

He also cites the threat of terrorism as a major reason for his support of the National Front. “Le Pen is the only one to propose some strong measures in terms of defence. With an increase of the army budget to 2% of the GDP and an increase in the number of the police employees, it will bring back security in our streets.”

His reason for voting for an alternative party is due to disappointment at the Républicains and Socialist parties. According to him they have done nothing to ease the social inequalities within France, and neither have proved to be successful at governing.

But for Cliona Noone, a 19-year-old from Vincennes, the Socialist candidate, Benoît Hamon, is the one that makes her hope for a better future. “He is the only one that puts the youth at the center of his campaign and is the most vocal about women’s rights.”

When asked what she thinks about criticism of him being too radical, she replies: “He is not ‘too radical’, people have forgotten what it means to be ‘à gauche’, to want to protect the workers, to protect people from the side effects of globalization. People have forgotten what the state is meant to do: protect and support its citizens.”

Noone thinks this is the worst election the 5th Republic has ever experienced. The Républicains party is exploding and shifting towards more extreme views. The Socialists are also being torn apart between Macron and Mélenchon; both were rejected from primary posts in the government.”

“The extremes (Mélenchon and Le Pen) seem more than likely to get the power, as the electorate is fractured.” She thinks the outcome may be violent as the political climate has been hostile ever since the ‘manif pour tous’. The huge demonstration in January 2013 against the law allowing same-sex marriage; the right extreme movement that emerged called itself the ‘manif pour tous’ (like the name of the law ‘Mariage pour tous’), which included a mixture of royalists, Catholic associations, Républicains, and National Front supporters.

Pierre Wang, a 19-year-old from Beijing and Normandy, thinks that if common sense prevails, Les Républicains candidate, François Fillon, will be elected as President on 7th May. “He has the most ambitious, detailed and pragmatic project. After five wasted years under François Hollande whose election was based on people’s hatred of his adversary, reforms are more than ever necessary.”

He is also a firm believer in the benefits of the EU, and is shocked by the views of the other candidates on this topic. “No less than half of the candidates blame the EU for everything or threaten to get out of it. How is this possible? Those candidates are old enough to have listened to the testimonies of World War survivors – their parents! – or have lived during the Cold War. Blaming the EU in such a way is intellectually dishonest. The EU fosters peace, economic cooperation, high-quality norms and standards, science and research. When I look at all of them and this 2017 election process, I wonder what General de Gaulle would think.”

But what is Wang’s view on the allegations against Fillon? He is accused of misuse of public funds – dubbed “Penelope-gate” by the French media after his wife, whom he allegedly paid for fake employment – and is slipping in the polls because of it.

Wang believes that the ones who threw this affair on the public stage simply want to damage Fillon’s performance in the election. “But they can be happy as they already succeeded in sabotaging the 2017 presidential campaign. There was no serious presidential campaign in the past two months. That’s a shame when you think at all the issues and challenges that should be discussed and solved.”

Despite the allegations, Wang’s support for Fillon has not diminished; “I still support him because I believe that he has the most comprehensive project that France needs. He is a statesman unlike all the others. Behind him, the right and the center are ready to govern and manage the country.  Fillon is the only one capable of having a majority in both houses of Parliament. Don’t forget that the legislative branch is important as well. How will Mr. Macron govern with a Republican Senate and a Republican or a very divided National Assembly?”

On the other hand, Adeline Massard, a 20-year-old from Gabon, is supporting Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left party, ‘Unsubmissive France’, in the coming election. “First and foremost, because I share most of the ideas he puts forward. In my opinion, his political platform is the fairest and most realistic, especially with regard to the environment, social policy, the EU, and foreign policy. He is not afraid of saying what he thinks, and doesn’t seem susceptible to the influence of lobbies, contrary to many other candidates.”

Massard describes some of the other candidates as “frenetic caricatures” and says she is really disappointed by the level of debate, which has been degraded by polarization around certain issues like terrorism and the migratory crisis. “I consider it a regrettable strategy employed by some politicians who tend to give these issues a privileged place at the expense of other fundamental topics such as the environment (the need to establish energy transition as soon as possible, for instance), unemployment, or implementing a better distribution of wealth”.

Referred to by many as a leftist firebrand, Mélenchon, was widely regarded as performing the best in the last TV debate between the 11 candidates. A snap poll by Elabe for BFM TV found that he had managed to convince 25 percent of those who had watched the debate. But Massard thinks it is still going to be a tight race to the finish line. “Several months ago, we wouldn’t have expected Fillon and Hamon to win the presidential primary elections. With them, Marine Le Pen is slipping in recent polls while Mélenchon is gaining ground.” As we have seen with Brexit and the US Presidential election, anything could happen, as the French would say: rien n’est encore joué.