Interview by Jurek Wille and Lorraine Fabre
This interview and the other campaign list interviews were conducted on Zoom by writers of the Sundial Press. To ensure uniformity across list interviews, interviewees were given the same amount of time to answer questions, and lists for the same permanent bureau (ex. the two BDA lists) received the same questions. The interviewees had not seen the questions they would be asked, and a member of the campaign committee also assisted and supervised the interview. Although the interviews have been edited for clarity and concision, everything written was said by the list members.
Virgile Bardeche: Co-president, French (EURAF)
Marie Margherita Gloerstad: Co-president, Norwegian and Italian (EURAM)
Elsa Lefetey: Secretary, French (EURAF)
Alexandre Mayor: Treasurer, Danish and Swiss (EURAM)
Elise Gracy: Head of communications, French and British (EURAM)
Hugo Bensmail: Head of events, French (EURAM)
Aliette de Cacqueray: French (EURAM)
Aymane Benbrahim: Morrocan (EURAF)
Manaia Matafeo: New Zealand (EURAM)
Charlotte Rubellin: French (EURAM)
Cassiopée Belangere: Head of competition, French (EURAF)
Daniel Oliver de la Rubia: Spanish (EURAM)
Arnaud Birota: French (EURAF)
Sports on Campus Pole
Michelle Brucker: American and Serbian (EURAM)
Lifestyle and Wellbeing Pole
Marguerite Joly: French (EURAM)
Antoine Labeyrie: French (EURAM)
Q: Why is your list running?
Maria Gloerstad: We are running simply because we truly have a passion for sports and because we have felt the way that sports, both on campus and outside, have contributed to our lives. Sports can be a way for us to have fun, to meet new people, but also to develop ourselves and to know our own bodies better, to set goals we can achieve and to explore the psychological effects of it. I think all of us are running because we have so many ideas about how to make it an amazing year for everybody.
Elsa Lefetey: Each of us in the list has a very strong link with sports, as it has importance in each of our lives in different ways. For me, I had to deal with a lot of anxiety when I was in high school, and I saw the effect of doing more sports both on campus, with the football team, but also by myself—I have been running a lot this year. I have seen the effect this has had on my mental health, how my stress has gone down, and it has also been an opportunity to meet other people I would not have met otherwise.
Hugo Bensmail: It is quite the same for me. The last four years have helped me gain more self-confidence—I used to not like my body much and sports have given me more confidence. This is the effect of sport that we want to share. The thing is, sports are not just about competition, they have a lot of impact on the individual scale, on community-building, the whole team spirit. It goes beyond the end result and winning a game. Especially when you have academics on the side, it helps to have a group you feel attached to and to think of something else than academics.
Elsa: Sports has brought a lot to all of our lives, so we really want to promote a positive community of sports on campus, to allow all students, whatever their relation to sports, whether they’re in a sports team or practice a sport on their own, to participate.
Maria: I think it’s very important to emphasize as well that this may all sound very idealistic and personal, but we truly believe that we have a lot of concrete solutions about things we want to share with the rest of campus and that’s why we are running because we really want to spread this joy of sports to others.
Q: How will you make sports more accessible to students who are not involved in a sport already at Sciences Po, and how will you incentivize them to participate in your events?
Maria: We have a lot of concrete suggestions. One of the things we want to do is expand the field of sports that people can participate in. We will offer different sports on a regular basis but also plan on having a lot of events, such as trips and weekends in Reims, all at a very affordable price where people can explore new aspects of sports. Of course, we will focus on having competitions and having more than before but we will also offer new aspects to sports for people who might not be interested in competition. We truly believe there will be something for everybody and we are all very passionate about what we do and want to spread this by making it accessible to others. The sports guide we have already made is an example of sharing our knowledge of how you can practice sports in Reims with others. We hope to create a community where everybody can do sports and be encouraged to explore new things together.
Elsa: The sports guide we were planning on preparing for the next school year if we were elected but we decided to go ahead and write it with the online campaigns. It is a 20 page guide to sports in Reims with a lot of information for everybody. This is complementary to the sports available on campus where students can find places to go run, times when the pools are open, different sport activities that they can do in Reims on the weekend but also find the address of a lot of different sport clubs. Having it ready for the new school year allows all the students coming back to Reims in September to have the resources that they need to do sports.
Hugo: Another point is a platform that we already kind of prepared linking sportsmen between each other. When we think of people who are not in sport teams because they feel they might not have the level to be in a competitive team, but we don’t think that should be the case. So we created a platform in which people could, based on their performances, be connected. For example, if you are not running often, but would like to start, you could team up with people who like running. The goal of the AS will be to link people together who would not have been able to do sports together at their level. The platform could be a google form with your preferences based on which we put you in contact with others having the same kind of results so that you can do sports together.
Elsa: For exchanges, we want to have clear communication for them at the beginning of their semester, coming to several of their amphis answering their questions and making sure they understand all the sports opportunities they have. Also, we want to organize one weekend near Reims per semester, like a short trip that would be accessible and allow other sports opportunities.
Q: Talk to us about your list´s team spirit – what are the key assets to a well-functioning sports association on campus?
Maria: We’re a very diverse group, we are good in different perspectives and we have very different relationships to sports. Some of us do it on a very professional level, and others have almost never done it before—but then again, I think that is our strength, we truly fulfill each other and we come together for our passion. We have experienced it ourselves, and we are good at seeing each other’s strengths, and we’re just having fun doing something we really enjoy together.
Elsa: Before the confinement, all our meetings were very joyful, and we were starting to create a real sense of team spirit. So we were quite disappointed that the confinement changed our plans, since we had planned several parties and had planned a campaign trip between ourselves to really get to know each other, but we have continued this online. Since most of us did not really know each other before, we have been trying to do many meetings and we’re making sure that everyone feels like they belong in the team. As Maria said, we all have different skills, and different strengths, so I think we are very complimentary. For the moment, we have been working very well together.
Hugo: One point that I think should be important talking about our list is the fact that we would have liked to have the opportunity of campaign week to prove that we could organize events. We have worked really hard, we were efficient and dedicated to doing a great job in the preparations for campaign week, and it is sad that we could not do it. I think people will still be able to see that in the way we managed to adapt to digital events and the whole digital format.
Elsa: And I think you can see how, while we were working together on ambitious events for the physical campaign week, which people will know about, we had several partnerships with different sports activities, like kayaking club, accrobranche (high ropes course) and a mud race. We had planned for events like trampolines on campus, a camping night, a 24 hour party and many events with other lists, so I think it would have been a great opportunity to prove our worth.
Maria: I think Hugo already emphasized it, but I think another thing that makes us work well together is that we all, from the beginning, we’re clear that each one of us has a responsibility and that we do not take the working part of this lightly. Our list is generally very motivated and people truly work hard. I think that has created an atmosphere where we truly have been able to get into this flow of being productive, and giving each other responsibility.
Q: With regard to the current COVID-19 lockdown situation, neither the WEIC nor the Minicrit will take place this year, how do you plan to revive sports and team spirit on campus next year?
Hugo: When Minicrit got cancelled many of us were very disappointed. I personally was because I am in the cheerleading team and could not participate in the WEIC. To get the team spirit back, we have planned a lot of school events based around team spirit. They could take the form of weekends before the WEIC and the Minicrit where, in partnership with the UVs, we could work on the songs. We thought of working with the captains to organize a party with all the teams that could not just form a team spirit, but a whole campus spirit.
Maria: As Hugo said, we have a lot of plans for how to get the team spirits up, but not only for the WEIC. We thought of expanding the “I Love Reims” concept and making it more into a weekend to create that sports communion with the whole of Reims and having parties with them to expand the community. We are also planning on having better team building at the beginning of the year to truly make them come together.
Elsa: We want to do a team building event at the beginning of the year once the different sports teams are created, to have one afternoon with our partner, Block Race. It would be an afternoon with an obstacle course which each team would have to complete. It is four kilometres long with 40 obstacles and we would make it a very big and festive afternoon to allow all the teams once they formed at the beginning of the year to become really strong together.
Maria: I also just think that what we mentioned previously, such as the weekend getaways and doing sports together as individuals will create a sports community and team spirit on campus more in general.
Q: Is there one last thing you would like to add?
Maria: Sports is obviously about the physical aspect of competition and coming together, but it is so much more for us. We plan on focusing on mental health, especially before the exam period, but throughout the year as well by being easy to reach as individuals. We also want to have different workshops and focus on the bigger issue of discrimination and harassment by doing conferences and self-defense classes throughout the year. The ethical aspect of this is important to us and we want to cooperate with different organizations on campus such as Intéragir to spread what we feel is good about sports.
Elsa: We want to do more projects with associations and use the sports resources we have to help associations like Intéragir or Foyer St Rémi to organize events with children. For instance, doing projects with sports clubs in Reims. We want to have strong outreach to other organizations.
Hugo: I should be in charge of trips next year. The main point is to keep them accessible, especially for those with scholarships.