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.

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