To express their desire for Mathias Vicherat’s suspension following domestic violence allegations made against him, Reims campus students organized a blocage of the school on December 7. This follows similar blocages of the Paris and Poitier campuses, and aligned with the current occupation of the Paris campus.

Starting at 5:30 a.m., about 50 students gathered in front of campus and blocked entry to it. The barricade was composed of trash cans, anti-VSS posters, cardboard with complaints about tuition hikes and banners featuring various Vicherat puns. The pun trend was also continued through sidewalk chalk art that protesters made throughout the morning.

According to the student organizers, their goals (which were met) were to show the Fondation Nationale de Sciences Politiques (FNSP) what “the students want since students are underrepresented in the FNSP” and to meet with Campus Director Crystal Cordell Paris to address their concerns. Cordell Paris, who arrived at 8:30, didn’t call the police. She instead allowed the blocage to continue and remained in contact with the student organizers.

One student protester was compelled to participate in the blocage due to the school’s “hypocrisy” and their own experience with sexual harassment. They were particularly upset at the fact that Vicherat’s campaign was so centered on action against VSS and that, by dismissing the allegations against him, he didn’t seem to respect his own policy of “always listening to the victim’s policy.” 

“It’s really disrespectful to everybody that’s been a victim of sexual violence. Personally, I’d like to work to fight sexual violence and this was my way of doing it,” the student said. “I don’t want to study in an institution that allows such behavior, doesn’t take action against it and puts no meaning behind their words. I feel like it’s important to fight against it because this institution prides itself on being ethically clean but really, it has no moral compass.”

However, this opinion regarding the necessity of the blocage doesn’t seem to be shared by all Reims students. Many expressed chagrin about the school’s closure right before finals via a 2A WhatsApp group chat. Such complaints concerned the lack of access to the campus library during finals, the cancellation of some in-class finals, and the fact that the blockade decision represented a minority of students. 

Most canceled events such as the 1A Parcours Civique presentation, were moved to Zoom or rescheduled. A particularly innovative 1A class was held in the Notre Dame de Reims cathedral. 

At noon, the student protesters deliberated on whether to end the blocage early. In the end, the afternoon termination won and the blocage ended at 12:37.  Those arguing for its end did so by citing student safety concerns due to a planned neo-Nazi protest nearby, the urgency of finals’ preparation and the feeling that their “point was already made clear.” 

It remains to be seen if more student protests will take place or if any action will be taken against Vicherat who, through his position as head of the FNSP, is the only person who can enact any proceedings against a Sciences Po staff member relating to VSS.

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