At Sciences Po Rennes, have the “active minorities” really taken power?

At Sciences Po Rennes, have the “active minorities” really taken power?
At Sciences Po Rennes, have the “active minorities” really taken power?

“We are all children of Gaza,” they can be heard shouting from the street. This Tuesday, April 30, at the end of the day, around forty students from Sciences Po Rennes are barricaded within the establishment, awaiting the arrival of the CRS. The evacuation was requested by management after a day of blockage. But the few chairs and trash cans stacked in front of the gate did not resist the police for long. One by one, the students left quietly. None will be arrested.

Thus, the people of Rennes imitated their comrades in the capital. For several months, Sciences Po Paris students have been mobilizing against the conflict in Gaza. Latest action to date: the blocking of the establishment, on April 27. With, once again, its share of controversies and comments. Notably that of Valérie Pécresse, the LR president of Île-de-France who suspended her subsidies: “A minority of radicalized people, calling for anti-Semitic hatred, exploited by LFI and its Islamo-leftist allies, cannot dictate their law (…) “.

In turn, suspicion is cast on the nine other IEPs in France, all supposed to form the nation’s elite. And scandalizes Coline, in 2nd year in Rennes. “This movement is demonized,” protests the young woman, among the blocking students. “However, our school claims to be humanist. It seems unthinkable to me not to mobilize to denounce a massacre of civilians. Because the first victims of this conflict are them. Whether those of October 7, the Hamas hostages or the Palestinians today.”

The hand of a “radical minority”?

The words are carefully chosen. The students know they are walking on eggshells. Tuesday morning, at the start of the blockade, a young person – from outside the establishment, they swear – saw fit to paint this slogan on the facade of the building: “Zionists, Pétainists, we will kill you”. The inscription did not last long. “We decided by majority to delete it,” underlines a mobilized student. We refuse any call to hatred and violence. »

If support for Gaza seems widely shared, the mode of action is debated, in the midst of the review period. This student even sees it as the hand of “a radical minority which imposes its methods on others”. And it is impossible, according to him, to say it during the General Assemblies. “There is strong pressure on the ideas that we can defend, a sort of unique thought,” he assures. An assertion undermined by one of his comrades, who nevertheless considers himself not very politicized. “As the overwhelming majority of the IEP is on the left, those on the right can self-censor. But there are plenty of conferences or debates where everyone can express their opinion. »

Criticisms undoubtedly as old as the student movement itself. “There is pressure but it is not new,” underlines political scientist Romain Pasquier, himself a professor at the IEP of Rennes. In around twenty years, he notes, however, university youth have moved away from the center left and closer to the radical left. With a return of “active minorities” very 1970s, who would have a “totalitarian conception of the debate”. “These activists consider themselves to be bearers of the truth and have difficulty with pluralism. »

In 2019, the name of a student plastered

Sciences Po Rennes experienced these radical methods five years ago. In the wake of #MeToo, a handful of students have stepped up their actions to denounce the patriarchy within the institution. The name of a student accused of sexual assault was even plastered in front of the establishment in March 2019. A few days later, the young person attempted suicide. The case ended up in court.

“Wokism” trial

Enough to fuel the “wokism” lawsuit brought against the academic world, including by the government. Dominique Maliesky, former professor at the IEP of Rennes, sees it, for her part, as a way of discrediting. “There have always been mobilizations at Sciences Po,” she emphasizes. It is true that the themes varied. Young people today are very engaged on the climate and sexist and sexual violence. But these aren’t radical freaks going crazy. » She would even be tempted to say that young people are more to the right than in the past. This would be evidenced by the unprecedented presence of committed RN activists at the IEP. “A few years ago, this would have been unthinkable. »




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