Interview by Ava Luquet and Jurek Wille
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.
Cyril Estier : President, Swiss (EURAM)
Rania Abdoulrassoul: Vice-president, Reunionese (EURAF)
Constance Gray: Secretary, French (EURAM)
Joel Miala: Co-treasurer, Angolan (EURAF)
Marie-Louise Reynoud: Co-treasurer, French (EURAM)
Salim Lemhandez Imani: Co Head of Events, Moroccan (EURAF)
Bertille Kernouault: Co Head of Events, French (EURAM)
Simon Pouly: Creative events, French (EURAM)
Aminata Diouf: Day Life, Senegalese (EURAF)
Solène Lesegretain: Nightlife, American/French (EURAM)
Georgina (Cat) Masson: Head of comm’, British (EURAM)
Simon (Zhilin) Kam (Jin): Creative comm’, Chinese (EURAM)
Valentine Lemoing: Visual comm’, French (EURAM)
Campus life Pole
Tilda Nilsson Gige: Head of student life and wellbeing, Swedish (EURAM)
Valentine Abramovitz: Student life coordinator, French (EURAF)
Mathias Brynildsen: Integration, Norwegian (EURAM)
Q: Why is your list running?
Cyril Estier: We are a group of 16 people who each individually has an ambition to bring something to campus they feel is lacking. It is a project that combines all of our individual ambitions to change and add something to the campus.
Georgina Masson (Cat): All of the people on our team love campus so much, so we take part in different associations, be it sports associations, film associations, debating society, or others. We all love everything to do on campus, but we want to make sure to share this love and make other people as happy as we are by providing these events and a BDE that makes people feel good.
Salim Lemhandez Imani: On a vraiment envie que nos années à Sciences Po soient inoubliables. On a envie de proposer beaucoup d’events, autant des soirées, des galas, mais aussi beaucoup, ce qui nous importe, c’est des events de journées, abordables, nombreux et qui puissent vraiment permettre à tout le monde de profiter d’une vie de campus dynamique et diverse en fonction des moods de chacun, et c’est ça aussi notre mission principale.
(We want our years at Sciences Po to be unforgettable. We want to offer a lot of events, parties, as well as galas, but also a lot of day events that are affordable, numerous, and which allow for everyone to enjoy a dynamic and diverse campus-life depending on their mood)
Cyril: Something I want to add is that Sciences Po’s academics are extremely overwhelming. We list because we have felt this overwhelming pressure of events and academic life. We want to tackle all of these aspects to enable students to better handle them and feel comfortable where they are, whoever they are, wherever they come from. They are part of something bigger and they should feel included without being too overwhelmed. That is why we are called StreamBDE. We want you to know that sometimes you can pause, take a step back and then dive back into your movie or film. That is what we want to offer you; to dream with us.
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?
Salim: Pour nous, c’est vraiment très important, en vue de la situation actuelle, d’adapter les choses. On n’a pas envie de complètement changer la vie de campus, et que la vie de campus devienne beaucoup plus difficile pour les gens. On veut vraiment faciliter les choses, permettre aux gens d’avoir des événements, des petits événements même, sur le campus ou hors-campus, qui puisse dynamiser leur vie de manière générale, en vue de la situation actuelle.
(To us, what is really important, with respect to the current situation, is to adapt. We do not want to completely change campus-life, or for campus life to become much more difficult for people. We really want to facilitate things, to enable people to have events, even though they are small, on campus or off campus, that could dynamize their lives in general, in light of the current situation).
Cyril: We are conscious that this crisis is going to create a fracture inside our first year, for 1As, and it’s going to create even more clusters, because when people come back, they will have to re-meet and re-integrate. We want to solve this problem of new clusters and new fractures.
Mathias Brynildsen: Integration of first years this year was cut short. We had integration week, we had the first semester, that was all very nice, but we need a year to fully integrate, and to establish the dynamics within our cohort. So what we’re thinking next year is that we would want a specific 2A integration before the integration week, so 2As can get together and re-establish the dynamics, and get in touch before we introduce the first years. That’s both for our own sake, but also for 1As, because we talked about this internally and we figured that if 2As come back at the same time as 1As, you would end up with 2As spending their time with 2As instead of integrating the 1As so we think that this is really a win-win situation. This is of course in the case that the situation improves over the summer. In case that the epidemic continues and affects next year, we’re going to have to implement some other projects to make sure that social life and student life does not die out. What we would introduce in that case would be, you’ll see during campaign week, online events, to make sure that people can keep in touch, and really get the student life in these interesting times.
Cat: On the well-being aspect, we know that because we haven’t had a full year to integrate, because we are going to be fractured, we need to make sure that students, when they come back, feel comfortable coming back. Part of one of our major campaign promises is to implement a greater support for well-being. We have got a head of the Well-Being Pole. Tilda, who is running it, is going to really make sure we have small events on campus that combat any stress or relieve any stress or anxiety that students have. These events will be free, easy to come to, so that everyone on campus can integrate.
Q: Do you have specific projects (events, trips, others) in mind that you plan to set up next year?
Cyril: As I talked earlier about the individual ambitions we had, something that affected us personally this year is the fact that many cultural associations on campus organized events that I, as a Swiss, felt unable to go to because I felt out of place. We want to tackle this by something that we call “international week” where we are going to increase cooperation with those cultural associations. Each day will be dedicated to one association in collaboration with us so everybody on campus can feel that they can approach the cultures they had not previously.
Cat: Talking about well-being, having the new implementation of this pole, run by Tilda, having the increase in events for students will help the well-being lacking on campus as there is no continuous support throughout the year. We are also going to have an online platform that will be anonymous for our students to contact our Head of Well-Being, with regards to consent or issues that they might want to talk about to get advice or support. That is a huge point we want to focus on.
Salim: On veut vraiment profiter de l’avantage qu’on a d’avoir un campus qui est super international, avec beaucoup de nationalités, beaucoup de gens de partout, qui ont des cultures différentes. Même au niveau de l’apprentissage des langues, on aimerait par exemple mettre en place un système qui permettrait de trouver un ‘buddy’ pour apprendre à parler une autre langue, ou pouvoir parler sa langue natale. Par exemple moi je suis marocain, je parle arabe, et je pourrais trouver des gens qui pourraient parler arabe avec moi, ou trouver des gens qui ont besoin d’apprendre l’arabe, à qui je pourrais donner mon aide. C’est aussi une de nos missions les plus importantes, de permettre aux gens de profiter de cette diversité culturelle, qui est vraiment une chance et une opportunité en or pour chacun d’entre nous ici.
(We really want to enjoy the asset of having a super international campus, with a lot of nationalities, a lot of people from all over the world, who have different cultures. Even regarding learning languages, we would like to put into place a system that would allow students to find a ‘buddy’ to learn languages, or to be able to speak our native language with. For example, I am Moroccan, I speak Arabic, and I could find people I could speak Arabic with, or find people that need to learn Arabic, and to whom I could bring my help. It is also one of our most important missions, to ensure that people can make the most out of this cultural diversity, that really is a chance and a golden opportunity for each and every one of us).
Cat: We envision that taking the form of a “parrain/marraine” system.
Mathias: Commenting on that, we have been given an amazing opportunity to discover and appreciate cultures. Over half of the people on campus are from outside of France, making our campus truly an utopia of globalization. It is kind of sad to see people not appreciating these cultures and the diversity found on campus to the extent to which it should. What we want to do is to facilitate interactions for people to discover culture, food, places where they might spend their 3A. In addition, there is such cultural diversity within Europe, so we want to organize trips to unmissable European cities and allow for people as much on campus as outside as well. There truly is a lot to be discovered.
Cyril: It is not only going to be trips in Europe. We also thought about day trips, less overwhelming to students than weekend trips.
Q: What are, according to you, the most important characteristics (that we expect) of a BDE member?
Salim: Je pense qu’il y a plusieurs points qui sont hyper importants. Premièrement, je pense qu’on doit parler du fait qu’en temps que membre du BDE, on doit être des personnes extrêmement faciles d’accès, extrêmement abordable, à qui les gens auront beaucoup de facilité à aller parler. En tout cas, c’est ce qu’on a envie de nous représenter: des personnes qui viennent de tous horizons, qui sont représentatifs des gens sur le campus, faciles d’accès, et à qui tout le monde aura facilement envie d’aller parler, aura envie d’aller se confier.
(I think that there are several points that are super important. First, I think that we must talk about the fact that as BDE members, we must be extremely easy-to-talk-to people, extremely approachable, to whom people will easily come and talk to. At least, that is what we want to represent: people who come from all backgrounds, that are representatives of people on campus, easy-to-talk-to, to whom everyone will want to come and talk to).
Cat: For me, the most important aspect of being a BDE is to be representative, accessible, and efficient. You want to be representative of campus because, like Mathias said, we are a utopia representing the globe here. We have to represent the whole of campus. We have to be accessible. We have to be able to take criticism. And we have to be efficient as a bureau. I think that the structure of our team, president, and vice-president, and the different poles really allow for this effective communication to happen. We do not see a difference between executives and anybody else in the team. We have one big group chat, and everybody is always willing to work. It is going to be so conductive to an efficient, representative, accessible BDE next year, and I hope people can see that throughout our events on campaign week.
Mathias: To comment on the representativeness of our list, we truly believe we represent the diversity that can be found on campus. Somehow, we have managed to overcome this diversity and work together as a team. In terms of the goals and the internal organization of our team we are a very well-oiled machine. There is also a very human aspect to our team. We have had disagreements. I have disagreed a lot with everything, the people on the team will tell you. But this has led to ‘fruitful debates’. We have been open minded, we have been dedicated, we have really worked hard to find solutions. Let us not underplay the role that hard work plays in running a bureau. It takes a lot of hard work, and I can promise you one thing, and that is that the members of the list are willing to work their asses off for you.
Salim: Comme je suis en Euraf, je pense que c’est aussi hyper important qu’on détruise un peu ces frontières entre les différents programmes; Euraf, Euram, Exchange, 1As, 2As. Je pense que c’est hyper important qu’on crée une réelle harmonie, et un réel esprit de groupe sur notre campus, chose qui je pense a manqué. Comme je suis en EURAF, parmis nos missions, je pense, c’est de réunir un peu tous les programmes, et de plus se sentir comme un seul campus, uni et en harmonie.
(As a Euraf student, I also think that it is very important to bridge the boundaries between programs; Euraf, Euram, Exchange, 1As, 2As. I think that it is super important to create a real harmony, a real group spirit on our campus, which I think has lacked. As I am a Euraf student, amongst our missions, I think, is really to bring all of those programs together, and to feel like one campus, united and in harmony).
Cyril: To add three characteristics to all of these comments, we have to be critical. We have to be connected to the students, we have to notice problems. Then, we need to have the ambition to find solutions to this, which we have. And then we need to be realistic, which is what we are. These are three things that I think we should expect from any BDE: notice the problems and listen to the students, be ambitious and be realistic.
Q: Is there one last thing you would like to add?
Cat: We want to emphasize what our theme is for campus: We do not want campus life to be overwhelming for students because there is so much pressure on Sciences Po students to excel. We want to be a BDE that provides events for students to pause, step back and enjoy their Sciences Po life. We are going to provide so many opportunities, so many events for everyone. Our theme as StreamBDE really relates to that.