By Zak Vescera
I write this letter not as a Student Representative, but as a concerned individual.
The Euro-American program is undergoing its most substantial struggle since its creation. The firing of Olivier Ruchet has sparked discussions of transparency, demands for accountability, countless concerns over who could possibly fill his functions so quickly, and calls for his reinstatement. Revelations about his opposition to a set of incoming reforms has inspired solidarity around the unique academic structure of this program, mobilized action against the Paris administration, and confusion about the nature of these reforms.
It’s been one hell of a week.
These issues and the events of these 7 days boil down into a single question; will we make ourselves heard, or stay silent?
Between Sciences Publica’s town hall and the subsequent protest, a petition of nearly 800 signatures organized by the student reps, and the endless jabbering of Facebook, there is no single person who does not have a view on the events that are unfolding.
But very few of those persons have actually stepped into the fray. The dialogue has been dominated, on both sides, by few voices. The vast majority of people have stayed largely silent, either unsure or unwilling to push in either direction.
There is nothing quite so easy as complacency. Saying “Ça va”, opening a bag of popcorn, and watching events unfold is mankind’s oldest pastime. It is far simpler to allow the conversation to be dominated by a vocal few than to commit ourselves to the crowd. If you paid attention in Political Science, you might note a parallel with Mancur Olson’s analysis of free-riding. If you didn’t pay attention in Political Science (as this writer failed to do) you might just call it being lazy.
And this is the single biggest danger this campus faces. Worse than a lack of transparency, more crippling than the loss of a director; and more destructive than an overreaction are complacency, resignation, and apathy. The belief that our opinions do not matter means that those opinions will never be more than thoughts in our head. It is contrary to any principle of collective action. It is contrary to the very spirit of Sciences Po, a school where we are taught not to follow suit but to lead, not to lean back in our chairs but to stand, and not to be silent but to speak.
This Monday, November 7th, the student body (Eurams and Eurafs) will gather in Amphitheatre Olivier Ruchet between 18h and 20h for a General Assembly. If at least 200 members of the campus are present, the Assembly will be a testament to the democratic spirit of this institution, of this campus, and of this program. Every voice will be treated equally regardless of their personal position, and the results will carry the weight not just of us as individuals, but us as one program, united in our hopes and demands. If recent events have led us to question what Sciences Po is, this assembly will carry testament to what Sciences Po ought to be.
You may feel, under the whirring wheels of an administration that fails to provide answers and between the waves of different demands that flood Facebook, that your voice does not matter. But in the words of Margaret Mead; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And so I implore you; stand up.
Speak up. Let yourself be heard. Democracy cannot and should not be a spectator sport.
The General Assembly will take place between 18h and 20h in Amphitheatre Olivier Ruchet. In the case of a lack of space, there will be a retransmission to I202. All programs and years are welcome.