“Town hall” at Sciences Po Paris: the school announces that it will maintain partnerships with Israeli universities

His speech was beyond expectations. This Thursday, May 2, Sciences Po Paris interim administrator Jean Bassères spoke after a series of pro-Palestinian mobilizations that rocked the IEP last week. His intervention was scheduled only a few minutes after “town hall” granted by the administration. An American-style meeting during which students debated with the institution’s management.

“We had to debate for more than two hours. It was a tough debate with tough positions and a lot of emotion., Jean Bassères began in front of a crowd of journalists. Around 320 people – including students, teachers and staff – participated in the debate, with 8 student representatives and the same number of school representatives. A discussion that allowed the director “give a certain number of points”and especially “our intransigence against anti-Semitism and the fight against separatism”.

Management wants to calm Valéria Pécresse

On March 12, an incident that occurred in the Boutmy amphitheater sparked a heated controversy. A student from the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJ) was actually prevented from entering a meeting organized by pro-Palestinian students on the grounds that she was “zionist”. “There have been tensions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we have seen an increase in reports related to anti-Semitism”acknowledges Jean Bassères and specifies that the results of the investigation regarding the incident in question were still awaited. “Then we’ll decide”continues.

Regarding the withdrawal of funds from the Île-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse announced on Monday 29 “until peace and safety are restored”the director is angry. “The position of the region can be discussed and I hope to meet with Valéria Pécresse on this matter to reassure her of her concerns.”continues.

Partnership with Israel maintained

Among the demands of pro-Palestinian students, the end of the partnership between Sciences Po Paris and Israeli institutions is systematically projected. A statement that is hard for IEPs to hear. “Partnerships with universities are the last bridges to burn. We must respect plurality, just as we respect all the people we work with.developed by Arancha Gonzalez, Director of the International Business School at Sciences Po.

Our students, even when they are young, have difficulty understanding “French style” secularism.

Sciences Po Paris

Thus, the dialogue between the administration and the students did not lead to “no decision” but rather for each side to speak while the partial parts of the IEP begin on Monday, May 6th for approximately ten days. “I have urged everyone to have a sense of responsibility to start the exams under the planned conditions. We’ll see how it goes in the next few days. But I feel these young people were very affected on a personal level.”, believes Jean Bassères. Various incidents should lead the IEP to create new thinking about secularism and neutrality. “From the beginning of the school year in September next year, we plan to update secularism in the ‘French style’. Because our students, as young as they are, have trouble understanding it.”specifies the establishment.

On Friday, April 26, 1,000 to 2,000 people gathered on rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris at the entrance to the Sciences Po campus to protest in favor of Palestine. IEP students, often masked or in keffiyehs, chanted their slogans “Israeli murders, accomplice of Sciences Po” Or“Free Palestine” alongside students from other institutions, activists, but also politicians from La France insoumise. After twelve hours of intense mobilization, the police finally evacuated the public highway. For its part, the school management announced an agreement with the activists, indicating a commitment to suspend disciplinary proceedings against the protesters and to organize an internal debate on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which the famous “town hall” had planned for this Thursday.

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