In the context of growing student dissatisfaction with Sciences Po’s VSS policy, the planned increase in fees, and the administration’s stance on the conflict in Gaza, students from Sciences Po’s Reims campus have been demonstrating their frustration.
Recent protests were triggered by a series of actions by the administration in Sciences Po’s Menton campus. The administration has imposed a series of controls on the student body, most prominently with the censorship of the public communications of student initiatives. However, warnings have also been sent to individuals posting on their private accounts who have been told that their posting on the conflict in Gaza may break French Law. These individuals have also been called into meetings with the administration, despite no reports of anyone actually breaking the law, which the Solidaires Menton has called an act of “intimidation.”
In response to these actions, a blocage was called on the Menton campus calling for freedom of speech regarding the conflict in Gaza. In response, the police were called by the administration resulting in fines for many students participating.
A statement issued by Solidaires Menton, a campus student union, criticises the administration for its “alarming attacks on freedom of expression,” as well as its lack of support for students in the “Palestine: understanding the struggle” initiative who have been victims of death threats online. In a long statement available on their Instagram, they also deplored the campus’s atmosphere of “mistrust,” which has been created by the students denouncing the social media posts of their peers to the administration. Additionally, they state that they oppose any use of the situation in Gaza to promote antisemitism. Finally Solidaires Menton accused the administration of having the real intention of preserving the reputation of Sciences Po rather than preserving the pursuit of knowledge necessary for effective research.
Since the blocage in Menton, student action has not slowed down in Reims. The sit-in in solidarity with the students of Menton and for a ceasefire in Gaza was attended by a total of over 100 people. The demonstration on the 27th outside campus gained around 50 demonstrators despite the terrible Reims weather. However, while private meetings have been held between organisers and members of the administration, whether this will lead to public statements and substantive actions by Sciences Po remains to be seen.