Interview by Damien Jahan and Maria Lee-Folch
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.
Eden Solarik: Co-president, Canadian (EURAM)
Antoine Defruit: Co-president, French (EURAF)
Peter Chen: Vice-president, American (EURAM)
Lina Bezzate: Secretary general, French and Moroccan (EURAM)
Boris Ragnault de Maulmin: Treasurer, French (EURAF)
Inès Leygue: Visual communication, French (EURAM)
Séverine Peyron: Design communication, French and Beninese (EURAF)
Inès Abi Mourad: Head of events, French and Lebanese (EURAM)
Louise Daix-Moreux: Nightlife, French (EURAM)
Lucas Malortigue: Campus life, French (EURAM)
Gianandrea Giacomazzi: Cultural life and trips, Italian (EURAF)
Gaspard Nouind: Inter-asso and sustainability, Cameroonian (EURAF)
Solenn Coffre: partnerships, French (EURAM)
Student Outreach Pole
Juan Facundo Majul Fajardo: Head of student life, Argentinian (EURAM)
Tomas Dias Piva Imparato: Mental health, Brazilian (EURAM)
Lisa Alern Wakayo: Exchange, German and Ethiopian (EURAM)
Q: Why is your list running?
Ines Abi Mourad: We are running because we want to bring a fresh perspective and outlook to what a BDE can do and the services it offers. We have really tried to pay attention to what’s going on campus, and we have done our best to ask around. So, we know there are things that need to be changed. Wanting to provide this new perspective is a big part of why we are running.
Juan Facundo Majul Fajardo: To add to that, we want to take a holistic approach to student life. We don’t want to just be a party-hard bureau but also a work-hard one. We want to cater to people from all backgrounds. We want to keep what is working and change what is not. We think we would be the best bureau to do this because we built our list around student and campus life.
Gaspard Nouind: L’un des points principaux pour lequel nous avons décidé de nous présenter pour le BDE, c’est parce que nous voulons nous engager pour plus d’inclusivité et d’accessibilité au sein du BDE. Notre liste est composée d’étudiants provenant de divers horizons, que ce soit en termes de programmes ou de groupes d’amis. Nous voulons aussi renforcer les différents liens existant entre le BDE et les autres associations présentes sur le campus.
(One of the main reasons we’re running is to foster more inclusion and accessibility within the BDE. Our list is composed of students coming from a broad range of friends groups and programs. we also want to reinforce the existing links between the BDE and other associations on campus.)
Eden Solarik: We really see our role as BDE as being there for you from the time you arrive until you leave. We know it can be hard to navigate all the different aspects of Sciences Po, especially speaking from the standpoint of an international student, which we have many of on our list. We know how confusing it can be to jump into a completely different system. We want to be there to answer any questions you may have, and help you with any administrative procedures that come with moving to a new country such as creating a bank account, getting health insurance, getting a visa… Because we know it can be very confusing.
Antoine Defruit: Ça part d’un constat simple, c’est à dire que on vient presque tous d’autre part que Reims, on a quitté nos familles et nos amis, et à Reims nous avons trouvé des nouveaux amis, et d’une certaine manière une nouvelle famille. Donc, nous on ne veut pas un BDE qui simplement qui fait des grosses soirées, mais on veut un BDE qui crée de la cohésion dans cette petite communauté qu’on forme. On se doit de le faire par un travail constant tout au long de l’année et en favorisant la vie de chaque étudiant pour encourager le vivre ensemble sur le campus.
(it comes from the simple observation that we almost all come from elsewhere, that we have left our friends and families, and in coming to Reims we have found new friends, and in a sense, a new family. We don’t just want a BDE that organizes big parties, but a BDE that creates cohesion in this small community that is Sciences Po in Reims. It is our obligation to do this through consistent work throughout the year and by valuing each individual student.)
Inès: Why we are listing is really about bringing this holistic perspective: throwing parties, having fun, but also doing more than that, and fostering this sense of community that we love.
Q: Given the possibility that the corona crisis continues to affect us for the next year, how do you plan to ensure student life stays vivid and (re)integrate the students to campus life?
Eden: The sad reality of the situation in the world right now is no one knows how long this is going to last. If this continues into the fall, we will do our very best to fulfill our campaign promises online. Because we have been able to switch our campaign to an online platform in such a short period of time, we’ll be able to move online for the fall if necessary as well. On top of that, because we have the summer to tackle these issues, we’ll be working not just on creating events in person, but also creating a back-up plan online.
Inès: Honestly, just working on this campaign has highlighted how much the new technological world allows us to really do things online. We have definitely seen that we can do fun things and throw events online, and foster a sense of community, and this is what we’ve tried to do during campaign week. The fact that we worked very hard to do this during campaign week means we will be able to re-apply that knowledge in order to maintain the stability of student life next year, since we are now familiar with a certain number of platforms we can use.
Antoine: Et aussi on pense à tous les étudiants qui ont du rentrer chez eux, peut être à l’étranger et qui n’ont pas un cadre de travail favorable, ou simplement un cadre de vie favorable de manière générale. Et donc pour tous ces étudiants qui ont perdu du lien social en étant obligés de s’éloigner du campus, on veut être là pour eux et être une oreille attentive, notamment par le biais de notre pôle mental health.
(We’re also thinking of all the students who’ve had to go home, perhaps abroad, and who do not have the ideal conditions to work, or simply who are having a hard time. We want to be there for the students who have lost their social links, we want to be there for them and listen to them, namely through the mental health pole.)
Gaspard: Par rapport au point soulevé par Inès, je voulais profiter de cela pour mentionner le fait qu’on s’engage vraiment à pouvoir refaire en ligne tous les événements que nous avons prévu de réaliser en présentiel. On a donc prévu de faire par exemple un talent show en ligne, pour permettre aux étudiants de montrer leurs talents et leur faire se sentir un peu moins seuls. En plus, nous avons prévu de faire un “melting pot” où les étudiants pourraient exprimer les différentes recettes et activités culinaires de leurs pays d’origine. Donc cela permettrait aussi de pouvoir casser les limites liées à cette situation sanitaire extraordinaire que l’on vit actuellement.
(Coming back to what Ines said, I wanted to mention that we have committed to digitalizing all the events we had planned to happen in person. We’ve planned to do an online talent show, to allow students to showcase their talents and to make them feel less lonely. We’ve also planned to do a “melting pot” where students can share recipes and culinary traditions from their countries. I think this can help us bridge some of the barriers linked to this unprecedented sanitary situation)
Inès: Je pense que ce qui est également très important dans le contexte de cette situation c’est d’être à l’écoute, et c’est un point sur lequel on s’engage vraiment. Par exemple, on veut potentiellement une hotline qui s’appellerait “real talks” où les gens pourraient nous parler directement de leurs problèmes. Et c’est quelque chose que nous avons intégré dans notre programme de semaine de campagne: nous avons prévu de faire des “Skype office hours” 24h sur 24. Chacun a une situation différente face à la crise sanitaire, chacun à des conditions assez spécifiques, et il faut donc être à l’écoute des étudiants savoir ce dont ils ont besoin, pour pouvoir adapter les plateformes que nous connaissons et les services que nous pouvons prodiguer en ligne.
(I think what is also important in the context of this situation is to listen, and this is something we’re really committed to doing. For example, we are thinking of having a hotline called “real talks” where people could directly share their problems with us. This is something we’ve integrated in our campaign week, as we have “Skype office hours” around the clock. Each person is living through this pandemic differently, and it’s thus important to listen to these students and to know what they need, to adapt the platforms we know and the services we can offer online.)
Facundo: I also feel like the sole reason everyone is in this interview right now is because our motive is to help students. Our core visions and ideas would revolve around innovations. I think we are capable of doing so because we come from so many different backgrounds and have engaged ourselves on campus in so many different ways. We are confident we can use what we have learned from that.
Q: Do you have specific projects (events, trips, others) in mind that you plan to set up next year?
Inès: Something that we want to try to do even more next year is have all types of events. We want to have new events, events that weren’t really done by the BDE before – like the Pool Party, which was supposed to be one our biggest events of campaign week. We really want to cater to all types of needs. We’re thinking of having events at the beginning of the year to help the new students, like cooking classes. We also want to have more chill, more therapeutic events, like something related to art therapy. It’s really about trying to have new ideas, new projects, but also trying to cater to the wide spectrum of needs that Sciences Po students have.
Antoine: On aura tous besoin après le confinement de s’évader et de penser à autre chose. L’année prochaine on prévoit d’avoir deux voyages au lieu d’un seul. Un voyage sera plus culturel, on a pensé notamment à des villes en Europe comme Berlin; et un autre voyage sera plus de divertissement, comme en Italie ou au Portugal. Il y aura donc un voyage chaque semestre. Pour les étudiants qui n’ont pas forcément les moyens de voyager tout seul, partir une semaine par an n’est pas suffisant pour penser à autre chose.
(We’ll all need to escape and think about something else after the confinement. Next year, we’re planning to have two trips instead of a single one. One will be more cultural, in cities across Europe like Berlin, and another will be more about amusement, like in Italy or in Portugal. There will be one trip by semester. For students who don’t necessarily have the financial means to travel on their own, going on a trip one week a year is not enough to think about other things.)
Eden: Focusing on mental health is one of our main goals for next year. We’re including a Pole Mental Health on our team, Tomas, specifically designated to student mental health and well-being. We’re also working on innovative ways to introduce counselling to the Reims Campus, especially because it’s difficult to find English-speaking counsellors, and ways to do it online on platforms such as Better Health.
Inès: The idea of the Pole Mental Health is to simultaneously work with the administration to help find counselling and develop a support system, and also provide initiatives to help the general well-being of students, by introducing activities that are more “chill/relaxed”, finding ways to lessen academic stress, having a hotline where all students can come talk to us.
Gaspard: Nous envisageons de renforcer les liens entre le BDE et SPE, en vue de s’assurer que les différents évènements respecterons les mesures liées à l’environnement et de créer une véritable collaboration avec SPE.
(We’re thinking of strengthening the links between the BDE and SPE, in order to make sure that all different events respect environmental concerns and to create a true collaboration with SPE.)
Antoine: Très rapidement, on proposera aussi une plateforme pour les jobs étudiants!
(We’ll also (to be very quick!) set up a platform for student jobs.)
Q: What are, according to you, the most important characteristics (that we expect) of a BDE member?
Facundo: A lot of students see the BDE as this corporate bureau full of ambition that is planning parties one time a year. We think ambition is not a bad thing. One of our ambitions is to be the best BDE we can be, one ambition is to exploit the immense potential the campus has, and forever change the lives of sciences pistes. But I think that what a lot of people are trying to get across is that they want a bureau that is approachable. Sometimes the BDE can fail in that sense, and that’s why we really try to work hard to enable anyone that has a concern to come up. We really want to be there for students.
Eden: Being hard-working and professional are two important traits that a BDE member should possess. The people on this campaign are incredibly hard-working. Before the quarantine, we spent such long hours brainstorming our plans, before we left Reims, we spent 48h filming to make sure we can present any campaign videos. We’ve been zooming nonstop to come up with innovative ways to do the campaign online. Those qualities are imperative and we really do possess them.
Inès: It may seem a bit simplistic, but I think one of the most important attributes of a BDE member is just to be a good listener. Be accessible, be open. As Eden said, we are hard-working. But we work hard for students. To “rester à l’écoute.” That is something to keep in mind.
Antoine: Cette logique est illustrée par la façon dont notre liste est construite. On a choisi l’horizontalité, avec une co-présidence, mais aussi l’originalité, en étant la première liste à introduire un pôle entièrement dédié au mental health.
(This logic is illustrated by the way our list is composed. We chose horizontality, with a co-presidence, but also originality, by being the first list to introduce a pole entirely dedicated to mental health.)
Gaspard: Peu importe que l’étudiant soit en Euram ou en Euraf, il pourra venir voir l’un des membres du BDE et lui exprimer ses besoins et préoccupations. On se veut vraiment ouvert et présent pour les autres.
(No matter whether a student is in Euram or in Euraf, anyone could come see one of the BDE members and express their needs and concerns. We really want to be open and present for others.)
Inès: One of the strengths of Sciences P’Oasis is that since we were all involved in different aspects of the Sciences Po life before, we all have a different set of qualities and aptitudes. It’s very difficult to pinpoint one quality which is the best. Having a wide array of perspectives is probably a very good thing as well.
Q: Is there one last thing you would like to add?
Facundo: We know that promises of a mental health-focused and environmentally-conscious BDE are made every year without exception. That’s why we don’t expect people to believe what we’re saying, but actually witness what we’re doing. We’ve made a co-presisent, a mental health pole, we’ve decided to really listen up. I’m confident that this campaign week will show our mission, our direction, our drive, which are all geared towards Sciences Po students in Reims.
Gaspard: Nous sommes une liste qui s’engage pour la diversité et l’inclusivité. Nous ne voulons pas que certaines personnes se sentent en marge. Peu importe que tu sois en Euraf ou en Euram, tu as un mot à dire ton notre travail.
(We are a list that is committed for diversity and inclusion. We don’t want anyone to feel left out. No matter whether you’re in Euraf or in Euram, you have a say in our work.)
Eden: We just want to be your BDE to support you, to plan events for you, and to make your life better and easier at Sciences Po.
Inès: We’ll try to stay alert if concerns come up. We see the BDE as a fun thing, meant to provide a good vibe for Sciences Po, but also as something that should be a support system for students, whether in terms of mental health, financial needs, etc.
Antoine: Enfin, on a vu pendant l’année que ça ne pouvait pas être que SPE qui s’occupe de la question environnementale. Nous aurons un vice-président qui s’occupe de la responsabilité du bureau, et Gaspard qui s’occupe de sensibiliser les associations du campus.
(Lastly, we saw during the year that SPE couldn’t be the only bureau tackling the environmental issue. We’ll have one vice-president that deals with the responsibility of the bureau, and Gaspard who takes care to raise awareness about this with the different campus associations.)
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