Interview with our Year Rep Candidates

First year student Ashley interviews the three year rep candidates to find out more about them and their ideas and motivations.

Running for Year Rep is no easy task — it requires devising new ideas to improve the Sciences Po community, an inordinate amount of effort, and knowing how best to capitalise on the allure of food.

While each candidate often does their best to pitch their ideas to a range of people during the campaign period, you might not have had this one-on-one opportunity. If you’re still deciding on who to vote for as the election date approaches, the responses of this year’s candidates’ (Any Li, Joaquin Castillo and Zhenhao Li) to our questions might help with your deliberation.

1. Campaign mottos and ideas aside, tell us more about yourself. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

Any: I play several kinds of instruments, and I’ll also be joining the KPop club after Diwali. One interesting fun fact is that I dream very often and they usually come in a series of stories; I remember all of my dreams very clearly. Usually, people say that if you don’t sleep well, you will dream… But I have dreams every day and I remember them so clearly, as if they were movies or dramas. There was once when I dreamt that I got out of a Metro station that looked like Paris, and there was a war going on (I’m not projecting anything!) and we had to go down into a cave to hide. Then, I was elected as the spy of our group to talk to the people who had initiated the war to reach peace.

Joaquin: I agree that it’s important to know more about the candidates so I created a video on that, where I talked about liking basketball, athletics and sports. But maybe something else that others don’t really know about me is that I always try to work for people because I feel that it’s my duty to be with people and help improve their lives. In fact, I used to be a Year Representative in my high school. Another thing I would say is that I miss the hikes that I used to do with my family — we used to go to the mountains near my village (in Spain), and this provided special moments for me to discover nature and the environment, which I really appreciated. I also miss going to the beach, and going to the sea, for sure.

Zhenhao: One fun fact about me is that I don’t eat coriander because I don’t like the smell of it. Also, I think that sometimes, people may feel that I might speak better Chinese than English, but please don’t hesitate to talk to me in English because it helps me practice expressing myself in English. I just really like communicating with people, so I guess that’s one thing about me that I’d like to share.

2. What motivated you to run for Year Rep?

Any: The Year Rep is supposed to represent the interests of all students. This year, we have more nationalities and ethnicities than ever before, so I think it’s very important to represent the interests of everyone. Last year, I also worked in a voluntary organisation and we introduced policies and information flows between migrant children and schools, so I’m familiar with having to communicate with others.

Joaquin: I think we’re used to seeing ways of representation that we don’t like. I think it’s a necessity to create or innovate or prove that there’s another way to be more democratic, and to show that our representation not only listens to all voices, but is also efficient in the things that it does. I would like this campaign to, in a certain way, revitalise and provide new ideas — not just ideas imposed by the candidates on others, but also more collaborative, where ideas are shared horizontally by everyone. This is what I call “guarantees of improvement”. This is why I think that renewing and strengthening the democratic process and the way we’re being represented is particularly important for our generation, because we’re the ones capable of inventing democracy, change political systems and invent new ideas. That is why I would like to be the one to represent the ideas of the people and of all their voices.

Zhenhao: I’m running for Year Rep because I feel that it is a way for me to connect with other people in my year. I really appreciate everyone’s talent and I would love to talk to as many people as possible. I also talk about my motivations in a video I uploaded to my Facebook page, so you can check that out too.

3. Given Sciences Po’s diverse student body, how do you plan on being accessible to your peers?

Any: Firstly, I’ve joined many clubs, which consist of people from different backgrounds who speak different languages, and I get to interact with them. Speaking of languages, I’m currently working on French B1 and hopefully I’ll get to B2 by next year so that I’ll be better able to communicate with students who are more comfortable speaking in French. Personally, I don’t want to put too much pressure on students, so I don’t think I will be organising General Assemblies with mandatory attendance just because everyone is so busy. But what I will do is to create a Facebook page with a link to a questionnaire asking for general solutions or suggestions to campus-related issues. It’s fine if you don’t want to fill it in, but I just want to ensure that I’m always available if others have any concerns about both academic and non-academic issues.

Joaquin: I really want this campaign to be an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background, to express their thoughts. I’ve been talking to people since the beginning of the campaign, who are sometimes “intermediaries” who speak with people from other classes and programmes. They then tell me the demands of other students. For the moment, I have more than 6 “intermediaries” who are both 1As and 2As, and I hope that there will be more in the next few days. Of course, I would love to listen to everyone personally, but I know this isn’t easy, so I need help from other people to be able to listen to more concerns than if I worked alone. Other than this, I’m also planning on holding some events in the coming days and will publish details on Facebook. I think both of these will help me reach out to more people, regardless of their background.

Zhenhao: My background is pretty diverse because I lived in Hungary and went to a French high school, despite only being able to speak English and Mandarin, and am also originally from China. It was quite complicated being an international student in that campus initially, but I was eventually able to overcome language and academic issues. Everyone was different in terms of their backgrounds and everyone was unique in that they have different feelings and points of view about issues, so I think this multicultural setting helped me better understand the international community. I’m also a polyglot (I speak Chinese, English and French, and a little bit of Japanese!) so I’m able to talk with different communities directly and understand their real concerns.

4. If you had to use a song to represent your campaign, what would it be?

Any: One of my favourite songs is “The Other Side of Paradise” by Glass Animals. I feel like Sciences Po is already a very ideal environment, but there are other areas for us to improve on. It’s kind of already an academic paradise, but there are still other things to improve on, and that’s on the OTHER side of paradise. I think what the Year Rep is supposed to do is to try to make this paradise more satisfactory to everyone.

Joaquin: I don’t know if this is a bit dark, but I think the song “Renegades” by X Ambassadors shows that while there are some people who don’t feel good in society, everyone is still united despite this. Comparing this to my campaign, I hope that our Year Rep, not just for this campaign but also in the ones that follow it, will help all of us feel part of this campus. I think a union between people is necessary. I wouldn’t want to see people suffering, and I want to work on everyone’s welfare.

Zhenhao: I would say the song “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx! It represents my campaign because I’ll always be there to help others with their problems, and I want them to know that I’m approachable.

5. What are some issues that you’ve identified about school life, and what are your plans to rectify them?

Any: I think the first thing would be to deal with information flows between 1As, 2As and 3As. As 1As, we don’t have an organised file of study/exam resources or previous class’ notes from 2As and 3As, and I think we could create a Drive or get access to the 2A’s drive. I also want to create a Facebook group with 1As, 2As and 3As, where we invite 3As to share their overseas experiences, as well as experiences with the Parcours civique. If we can publish some articles or videos conducted with the 3As during the Summer vacation, that would allow the 1As and 2As to have an idea of what our lives during the third year might be like. Of course, you can seek advice individually by approaching specific 3As, but you won’t be able to meet every person face to face or ask them questions individually… But with a page, information would be more accessible.

Also, I would like to start the Yearbook project as early as possible, since we started quite late last year. Another thing would be the improvement of facilities — we can install a mirror in the music room (Room A1), provide more food choices in vending machines if this is negotiable with the BDE and the administration, and also solve the problem of the broken microwave more quickly in the future. These are just some minor things in terms of facilities. Another very important thing is improving communication with Admin. It seems quite basic, but it’s something that the Year Rep must do. Sometimes, the Admin sends emails regarding the rescheduling of classes only a day before, and if we don’t check our emails, we might not see the rescheduled timings. I would like to see if these arrangements can be done in advance instead.

Joaquin: One thing I know is that the 2As have been seriously struggling with finding their place abroad in another university for their third year. I would like to help them by increasing the amount of information accessible to them — I think there’s a problem of orientation because we don’t usually have a lot of information about that, so I would definitely like to help the 2As with their third year abroad through what I would call the ‘LH Student Toolbox’, which will provide tools for everyone to express themselves and how they hope things will improve even after the campaign. The Toolbox will also provide essential information on Sciences Po life — for example, who should I email when I’m sick, and what is the information available for the third year abroad? I think it’s important to open the dialogue to the 3As who are currently abroad by inviting them back on campus or asking them to share their experiences, so that everyone is able to decide where to go for their third year. I also know that many people are struggling with CAF, which is why I would like to help the 1As with their integration here through the ‘LH Student Toolbox’.

Some other people have also told me that there aren’t enough microwaves, so one of my electoral promises is to buy more microwaves for students. Another proposition that I think is extremely necessary is to hold a General Assembly for students every two months, because this is another way for us to enforce our democracy. I would like to make all the ideas proposed during these Assemblies into a reality.

Zhenhao: Personally, I don’t have any big problems with school life. But I’ve been listening to people’s ideas and I’ve discovered that there are quite a few issues that we can try to negotiate with the administration. For instance, the absence policy is a problem for many people because some students may be sick for a very long time but they’re unable to get a justification from the doctor within the allowed period. Some people may also have psychological problems, which makes it very difficult for them to justify their absence. I think this concerns quite a few people, and that this issue should be addressed. Or, at the very least, we should make the absence policy clearer for students to understand why and when/how they should obtain their justification.

6. What is one challenge you foresee yourself facing as Year Rep, and how will you overcome it?

Any: For me, the most urgent challenge would probably be my proficiency in French, especially when dealing with the French administration… But I think I need to be more patient with this. Also, I think there’s a lack of interaction with some people who sign up for classes in French because they’re not in any of our classes and we don’t meet them a lot. Another issue would be the flow of information, but as long as we have Facebook pages and groups, I think this problem can be solved.

Joaquin: I think one challenge would be facing the worry of not getting what I want after voicing concerns to the school administration. To overcome this, we would need to find compromises with the administration to allow things to be improved. I think the administration is concerned with our welfare, and I would like to thank them for that because I know it’s not the same in all places. This is needed for us to make it possible for ideas to be implemented. For me, another way to overcome these challenges is to draw on my experience of being a class representative in high school to implement a recycling network. I’ve said that our school needs to be more ecological and that we need to recycle, and I managed to implement a system of recycling when I was in high school… I have experience implementing ideas that might seem complicated initially, but turn out to be achievable after good organisation and a huge willingness to see them through.

Zhenhao: My challenge is probably speaking in front of a big crowd because I’m not very used to this, and would prefer talking privately to people. But I think this may be an advantage as well, because talking to people privately could help me solve problems directly as a Year Rep. To overcome this, maybe I can attend more MUNs (which I’ve just done!) to practice my public speaking skills. The speech that I need to deliver on Monday is limited to 1.5 minutes, which is exactly the same amount of time for General Speakers’ List speeches during MUN! So I think I’ve definitely taken LHIMUN 2019 as an opportunity to train my public speaking skills.

Remember to cast your votes for your Year Representative on Thursday. After all, if our P.I. classes have taught us anything, it’s that voting is a right that ought to be exercised!

(For more information on each candidate’s campaign, do head to the following links: Any, Joaquin, and Zhenhao.)

Year Rep Review

Don’t know who to vote for yet? LDD has got you covered!

Following three days of fierce campaigning, the Year Representative race comes to a close. Through dinners and debates, each candidate expressed why they would make the perfect Year Rep. So, as the elections draw near, the candidates answered some of our questions to summarize their pitch :


As a Year Representative, you will have to engage with the entire Sciences Po community as to represent the interest of the group. How will you make sure to expand outreach?

All four candidates agree on two things : openness and availability. Indeed, Tô Minh Sơn summarized his methodology in three words : “Communication. Talk. Observe.”. Vijey Ganesh elaborated on his view by stating that “[he is] also someone who tries to talk to everyone and [he would] like to keep [his] ears open for any issue”. This view is closely shared by Suvayan Sen Gupta who states that “ [he] would try to speak to everyone possible (…) [he] will be available at all free times on campus to address people’s questions or problems”. Léonie Lhommelais suggests “communication through social media and email”. She also wishes to have “a white board in the hall with the events and the news of the campus” as a way to keep the student body informed.

Moreover, both Suvayan Sen Gupta and Vijey Ganesh evoke the idea of organising more general assemblies to close the gap between the student body and the administration. As Vijey Ganesh put it, he wishes to hold “a general assembly each month along with the administration to address key policy and administrative issues”. Tô Minh Sơn hopes to achieve the same objective “from simple conversation over coffee to formal gatherings and polls”.


If you are elected, what kind of change do you hope to make?

On this issue, all candidates hold their own position. “[I want to make] small differences that go a long way to enhance life on campus” stresses Vijey Ganesh. Léonie Lhommelais and Suvayan Sen Gupta agree : they wish to increasing communication between the administration and the student body. In contrast, Tô Minh Sơn hopes to simply “remain at most a representation of [the student body’s] interest” instead of having a specific program. He asks : “what change do you want?”.

What is the biggest challenge you believe you will face during your mandate as Year Representative? How do you plan on resolving this issue?

In answering this question, Tô Minh Sơn reminds us that there are “big limitations to the position of Year Representative (…) [he or her] is just a policy adviser to the administration”. He wishes to overcome these limitations by “[being] the most comprehensive and pragmatic policy adviser as possible to the administration”. He also hopes to “obtain statistical data specifically for this campus”. On the other hand, Léonie Lhommelais claims her biggest challenge to be in line with the leading clause of her program : “an improvement of communication with the administration on many matters to reach changes, whether it is concerning the Civic Learning Program, the 3A […] steady meetings with the administration, among others, will improve the situation” she states. Vijey Ganesh agrees with this view. He believes he will encounter the most difficulty “with the 3A program and [the] easy access for the students with the administration”. Finally, Suvayan Sen Gupta states “the biggest challenge that I will face is to ensure that everyone on campus is happy and doesn’t face any trouble”. He would like to attempt that “through increased communication [and] sharing of problems”.


What makes you different from other candidates ?

Tô Minh Sơn – If you take my personality apart, you might be able to find a part of me that can resonate with a certain demographic. It’s mostly because I’ve lived a relatively diverse life, and so my world-understanding is quite integrated and… kinda weird collectively, but also not weird at the same time, individually.

Vijey Ganesh – I love the people I’m surrounded by and would like to make their lives a little bit easier

Suvayan Sen Gupta – What makes me different from other candidates is that I have skill to comprehend and understand and I can easily think on my feet that helps me tackle day to day problems. I am not afraid of failure as I believe we learn our greatest lessons from it. Also my campaign isn’t about what I can achieve from the start it’s been about what we together can achieve so I believe that sets me apart from the rest. Listen to your heart and do what’s right vote for Suvayan and we can make things right.

Léonie Lhommelais – I tried to make my program as realistic as possible, with projects that have a real chance to be achieved. Constantly adding learning material on the shared Drive is one of the easiest to do, but it will already help many. A program based on the feedback that all the students I talked to have given me. What is also important is that it is not fixed: I will always be all ears for whatever needs to be addressed.

If you had one sentence to pitch your campaign, what would you say?

Tô Minh Sơn – Why not?

Suvayan Sen Gupta – The boy with a smile shall go an extra mile

Léonie Lhommelais – Your year. Make your vote matter!

Vijey Ganesh – Small changes which leads to big results

Taking everything into account, cast your votes today from 13:20 to 23:59 for your future Year Representative!

Edited by Leesa Ko and Maya Shenoy

The New Dragon’s Summer Reads

Get to know your editors and what they’ve been reading this summer

photo by Marcus Cheah (@marcuscheah)

As the autumn semester approaches, and summer draws to a close, many students from the Le Havre campus are indulging themselves in some holiday reading. Perhaps you have made a start on the Sciences Po summer reading list, perhaps you have been reading to own tastes, or perhaps not at all. Regardless, the four new editors at Le Dragon Déchaîné thought it would be an opportune moment to introduce ourselves, and tell you what we’ve been reading this summer.

Leesa Ko

An American second year student and one of the new editors- in- chief for the radio section, Leesa joined LDD last year after writing a short piece on her solo travels and producing a music podcast with one of last year’s editors and infamous party animals, Pierre Bucaille. Between her perhaps excessive load of extracurriculars, Leesa can probably be found on campus asking too many questions, laughing obnoxiously, or caressing her new tattoo whom she’s affectionately named Noelia. She’s been reading…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“History has failed us, but no matter.”

The opening line of Pachinko reflects the devastating impact and raw honesty of the novel, a multigenerational story of a Korean family during and after the 35-year forced Japanese occupation of the peninsula. The story follows the Baek family as they incessentally fight to overcome in a time and place where the odds were in favor of achieving anything but.

For me, Pachinko brought me closer to my roots as I gained a keener awareness and empathy of the unimaginable hardships that my own family was forced to confront during the occupation, as well as the ongoing challenges they continue to face as a result of this period. Nonetheless, this book discusses universal themes such as family, identity and discrimination, within a historical context that is underrepresented in English-language literature.

Author Min Jin Lee skillfully strikes a balance between crafting a calculated account of a winding historical saga while avoiding the often drawn out descriptions common to such writings, and creating a humanising intimacy in the development of such vivid and complex characters. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to her having spent 30 years on the book, but it’s evident that Lee has achieved a literary feat with her literary triumph, Pachinko, which was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.

Philippe Andreas Bédos

Philippe is from Oslo, Norway and one of the new editors-in-chief for radio at Le Dragon. He majors in Politics & Government and is studying Chinese. He is also the P.R. Manager of the Bureau Des Élèves and an avid sportsman, part of the campus football, rugby and karate clubs. He enjoys listening to bossa nova music and quoting philosophers he has actually never read. You will often hear him using directly translated Norwegian expressions such as: “Goodbye on the bathroom, you old chocolate!” , or “I had my beard in the mailbox”. He’s been reading…

Au Revoir Là-Haut (The Great Swindle) by Pierre Lemaitre

The fate of two French soldiers, Édouard Péricourt and Albert Maillard, is decided in the final moments of World War I, as their ranking officer, Henri D’Aulnay Pradelle launches a daring offensive to ensure his social ascension once the fighting ends. After saving Albert’s life, Édouard is in turn saved by Albert. When Édouard later wakes up in the hospital, he discovers his jaw has been torn off by a shell blast.

The sad and beautiful story of Maillard and Péricourt’s friendship is a true adventure through post-war French society. Rich with humour, it centers on a plan to fool the whole country into buying fake monuments to the dead and fleeing as well as the scandal of Pradelle’s mix-up of thousands of entombed soldiers.

Pierre Lemaître draws you 100 years back in time to a society that has since profoundly changed, yet the characters and their aspirations are uncannily familiar. The story is bitter yet compelling and filled with historical detail.

The novel explores the strong social codification and stratification of the time, via investigations of Édouard’s family’s relations; focusing notably on the complex relationship with his father, who realises all too late he truly loved his son, a particularly endearing character. As he realizes what has become of his once delicate face, Edouard convinces Albert to provide him with a new identity and hides his disfigurement by making beautiful and oniric masks of all kinds, filled with color and imagination. He meets his misfortune with irony and flamboyance.

The book won Lemaître the 2013 edition of the Prix Goncourt.

You can also find the movie adaptation in theatres now. (93 % on Rotten Tomatoes / 7,6/10 on IMDb)

Maya Shenoy

Maya is an American second year student and is one of the new editors-in-chief for the print section at Le Dragon. She majors in Political Humanities and is also co-captain of LBGTQ club and Quizbowl. You will most likely catch her off campus, in the Bibliothèque Niemeyer or Columbus Café, laughing at her own jokes as subtly as possible. She’s been reading…

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This book had been sitting on my shelf since I half-started it at sixteen. After having been recommended to me by a dear teacher from high school, I had left it untouched. My teacher had called the story, centered on the fraternity and perseverance of the American coxed-eight rowing team (largely from rural Washington State) in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, nothing short of “life-changing.”

With some time on my hands (and the promise of transformational content), I was able to dive back into the book over May and June. The book found me at an opportune moment – uninspired and seeking purpose. I found myself instantly taken by the story of protagonist Joe Rantz, his turbulent childhood and mandated independence (after having been told to fend for himself by a complicated stepmother), and his unshaking determination to the sport, bettering his life, family, and his wife, Joyce. The camaraderie with the diverse group of men in the boat, whilst it had been the advertised selling point, was for me only the second most compelling part of the story.

While Brown paints an intimate portrait of the team he, curiously, weaves in quotes by the famed shellmaker George Yeoman Pocock (who fashioned their boat on his campus workshop). Initially, the reflections of Pocock that open every chapter seemed superfluous to the story (though no less interesting). But it was these reflections, on character, on teamwork, and on grit that stuck with me the most. Brown elegantly and subtly shows us, with the near-spiritual reflections of Pocock then embodied by the actions of this boat of men, the importance of a strong network – a strong team – and sheer determination in sport and life.

The language is clear and concise, Brown does not delve into meta-analysis to feign significance. Instead, the grandness of the sheer facts and the poignancy of Pocock’s thoughts propel the book (more accurately, the story or events) into a Chariots of Fire-caliber tale of extraordinary people, courage, and drive.

Pailey Wang

Pailey is an Australian second year student, and is one of the new editors-in-chief for print at Le Dragon. He majors in Politics and Government, and is also the incumbent Public Relations Officer of the Bureau des Arts. You will often find him wandering the halls of campus, looking for someone to go to Resto-U with. He’s been reading…

Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond by Martin Rogoff

Some students seem to adjust to the rhythm of undergraduate studies better than others; finding a sensible balance between university work and leisure, which among other things, includes the type of wide and explorative reading one should indulge themselves in during these still formative years. I seemingly was not one of those students, the only image the words ‘work / life balance’ conjure up for me is the ability to make it to the lecture hall. So, when my delightful co-editors decided on an ‘exciting’ book review for our first piece of the new semester, my reaction was somewhat muted. In spite of this, I am not one to let down the team, so here-in you will find my review of the first thirteen pages of ‘Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond’ by Martin A. Rogoff, the shortest of the readings that I will have to do reasonably soon anyway for my constitutional law lecture.

It is approaching twenty minutes since I started reading, and I haven’t made it through the one-page abstract. I feel like Professor Rogoff is trying to explain a nuanced and important concept, which I have thus far completely failed to comprehend. His picture, attached to his page on the Maine University of Law directory, has not helped me. His gaze penetrates me with seething disappointment.

Reaching the beginning of the introduction on the second page, I find myself thoroughly impressed by the extent of the footnoting, three quarters of the page at least. I breeze through the three lines of body on said page, and I feel as though I am making great strides.

The third page reads as easily as the second, the extensive footnoting has helped me once again. Though it slightly worries me when my mate prof. Rogoff tells me to ‘see’, among other things, a ‘short collection of essays’; my gut tells me that the word ‘short’ is being used liberally. I much prefer Rogoff’s footnotes which, correctly, assume my general ignorance of modern French history and chime in little helpful tidbits. Wishing I knew more about Algeria, I suddenly make the dire realisation that I have only made it to page 5. My initial delight at the length of the footnotes was misplaced, our good friend Rogoff is jamming more and more background information in, and I feel decieved by the smaller type.

Many thoughts went through my mind over the next few pages, few were about constitutional law. They mostly revolved around Charles de Gaulle and all the things I would rather be doing. After considerable effort, and altogether too much time, I did eventually finish. Highlights: I feel like I increased the flow of blood to my brain for the first time in a while. Low points: See Rogoff, M. (2011). Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond. SSRN Electronic Journal, pp.1-13.


Maximizing Utility: The BDA Elections

The election frenzy continues at the Le Havre campus as the artistic bureau takes its turn in the spotlight.

(click on image to view full photo)

The twelve candidates have spent the week relentlessly campaigning, communicating their ideas and demonstrating their various talents. As past Minicrit results have shown, the arts are the heart and soul of our campus. The Bureau des Arts (BDA) is instrumental in bringing our campus together. To help students better evaluate which candidate is most capable of promoting campus unity, the incumbent BDA has posed the question, “What will you do to tear down cultural barriers, and how can the BDA best promote artistic and cultural life in and out of campus, given budgetary, academic, and logistical limits?”

As so aptly stated by Emma Durand, “The BDA has a duty on this campus, beyond coordinating clubs and organising events, to create an atmosphere of acceptance, of kindness and of openness, in order for everyone to be more inclined to let go of their initial fear, and show their vulnerability and their passion.” This atmosphere epitomizes events held by the BDA; from Diwali to Chinese New Year, and Christmas to BDA night. Ayano Goto elaborates on the “sense of bonding that came from the respect and kindness that I believe each one of us have on campus.” Amber Dave says with conviction, “To tear down cultural barriers I would work towards making people of (different) cultures feel included because there are some minorities that are indeed under-represented and so the BDA could organize events on days of festivals of these communities that require no to minimal funding.”

But a majority of candidates have also expressed a desire to hold more small-scale events. Indeed, Jane Chan, Emma Durand, and Evgenia Ivanchuk present the idea of having presentations of the diverse variety of cultures on campus to fuel intercultural dialogue. Sarah Maaz promotes the idea of “small cultural festivals where people of different nationalities could show us more about their countries.” Nolwenn Voléon states that “some students are very good at writing, drawing or taking pictures and I want to provide a platform for them to be able to display their work more freely if they wish to do so; (and to) be able to host their own workshop to share some talent or technique they’re passionate about (e.g. origami, watercolor, calligraphy).” Furthermore, Camille Geneau elaborates: “differences should not be barriers but opportunities to share our tradition, to learn from one another and to open our minds.” Evgenia Ivanchuk suggests more LDD involvement, publishing more culture-oriented articles, whereas Pailey Wang proposes “intimate evening musical performances after class” to unwind after a long day. Monthly displays of visual art suggested by candidates including Cassandre Rohart, and Camille Geneau. Vinzent Wesselmann and Nolwenn Voléon stress on how more emphasis should be placed on the “non-performers”: the authors, poets, and visual artists. The latter suggests having an anonymous gallery to provide a space for the shyest among us. These exhibits would not only be a way to get to know our diverse artistic community but also allow us to further communicate with local university students. Getting other universities involved, much like getting more students involved, would require active promotion.

According to Fiona Beraud, “Promoting culture can be easy. You can make flyers, Facebook posts, posters…” Pailey Wang remains pragmatic and states, “I have a lot of practical skills in sound systems, video editing and photo editing which would be very useful for running and promoting our campus events. I am very concerned with ensuring that the diverse artistic output of our campus is shared and promoted on campus.” Furthermore, creating more videos and making them more easily accessible would prolong this feeling, and conserve the memory of each event. Vinzent comments, “I want us to be able to remember our performances in all of their glory. The first step for this is to implement a backup camera for all performances in order to ensure that no recordings are lost as they were last semester. Then, I’d like to work with the photography and film-making club to create short after movies for each large BDA event that capture the ambiance of the night through little interviews and behind-the-scenes shots that we can fondly remember in years to come.”

Interestingly, three candidates, Amber Dave, Sarah Maaz, and Cassandre Rohart, suggested cultural diplomacy through food. Amber Dave would encourages intercultural interaction through food served at BDA events. He elaborates and says, “All these are varied and diverse ideas to break down cultural barriers on campus and one or multiple of them can be used and show promise of being effective.” Sarah Maaz complements this notion by stating, “I would like to organize (and encourage other students to organize) cultural and cross-cultural dinners. To me, the conviviality of a dinner is the best way to open the dialogue and discuss.” Cassandre Rohart would “make daily cohesion and contacts better. Organizing a weekly-shared meal between 2 or 3 people, from different countries (on a totally voluntary basis) would make them share original recipes, ingredients, and memories together.” To promote French culture, Sarah Maaz would implement “more French cultural visits: we do have the artistic side (MuMA, the port, Le Havre’s architecture…), but in order to provide the “French cultural experience” to international students, I would love to take them to wine and cheese caves, visiting farms (Normandy is a region that is mainly agricultural and has a fascinating cultural patrimony!) or even medieval villages.”

In addition to appealing to the stomach, candidates have other ideas to appeal to college students. Camille Geneau stresses the importance of a clearer schedule for the rehearsal spaces, to make it easier to plan around our busy schedules. She would also set up a book exchange program, to make access to a wider variety of books more easily available. Fiona Beraud would set up a more material reward system, an “art membership card”: “Just like when you go to Wok-Up, you would get a BDA stamp on your membership card if you can provide proof you went to the museum, the theatre etc. Anyone who finishes their card could get a reward (free tickets to shows? free piece of art? Credits (!!)? Who knows ! Let’s get creative!)”

Overall, it is comforting to see that students standing for election are generally on the same page. This includes frequent, small-scale events centered around promoting multiculturalism, student-led workshops, intimate concerts, and temporary expositions. Furthermore, there are a plethora of interesting new ideas that could energize our increasingly diverse campus. Tomorrow, students cast their votes, and we hope that they vote with their ideal bureau in mind.

Emma Dailey is a French-American second year student at Sciences Po Paris, Campus du Havre.

Edited by Paxia Ksatryo

The ‘Association Sportive’ Elections

The AS Phoenix will be reborn today.

(click on image for full size )

As election day draws near, students of the Le Havre Campus of Sciences Po will have nearly finished forming their opinions on the plethora of candidates competing for their favor. In the interest of keeping the citizenry informed, we have asked all ten Association Sportive (AS) candidate two questions, sourced from the association themselves. They reflect the greatest concerns of the current AS members, who have a better understanding of the reality of association life than anyone else on campus, about the future success of the association. These questions about the duties, functioning and main challenge of the Association are as follows:

  1. Leading our campus to victory is one of the pivotal objectives of the AS. However, we have very limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time. In your opinion, what should be the AS role in improving the situation, so as to better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit?
  2. In your perspective, what is the biggest challenge the AS will face during your mandate and how do you propose to sort it out?

According to the Sciences Po Le Havre campus official website, the AS is a permanent association under the 1901 French law. Its mission is to create an active and inclusive athletic community on campus, but also to facilitate access to health services in Le Havre. During the year, it is to organize friendly matches with the Université du Havre and other local teams. At the end of the year, it is to present teams to compete in the Minicrit, or Collégiades de SciencesPo, an athletic and artistic competition between all Sciences Po Paris undergraduate campuses.

These are the bare bones of AS duties, but as the students are well aware, our association members do so much more. From providing us with our beloved blue hoodies and keeping the lunch-room stocked with tea, to coordinating the Ski-Trip, WEIS, and Minicrit, all while continuously boosting campus moral, it is now up to us to ensure that the baton of responsibility is passed on to the right combination of five dedicated and able students. The spirit of Achilles Shields must be reincarnated much like the Phoenix in its logo. To aid in this collective decision making, we have based the article below on the answers of all ten candidates to our two questions.

1 – Leading our campus to victory is one of the pivotal objectives of the AS. However, we have very limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time. In your opinion, what should be the AS role in improving the situation, so as to better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit?

  • Coordinating club captains, locations and coaches:

To better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit, the candidates all seem very focused firstly, on coordinating clubs to help captains find coaches and places to practice. Léa Leyfsword states that “The AS should make the connexion between sports captains and venues easier so that they can book fields more often when they need it and therefore be better prepared for the Minicrit. It should also make it easier for anyone who wants to start a club to find a coach and place.” Miyu Shu also states that “the AS needs to continue working towards establishing long-term relations and networks around Le Havre with local sports facilities, schools, and universities!” Yuqin Luo continues “AS will have a supportive role to the clubs. The association should support clubs by helping sports clubs to find ways to extend their training time and to negotiate with the gyms. Despite negotiating with gyms, we are also going to provide plan Bs such as organizing running sessions for the sports clubs and people on our campus. What the AS should and can do is not to help clubs be better at sports but to provide them with a good environment that they can improve.”

Kalinka Le Goff also reminds us of the key role the AS has in helping organize a sports schedule free of clashes, so that our students may involve themselves in as many sports as they please. Kokoro Osada summarizes and highlights the issue by stating: “One of the main concerns that we had at the beginning of the year with the sports teams were to begin the practices itself. The captains were responsible for everything from finding a coach and reserving a field. The AS should lighten these burden (…) Practices are sometimes canceled, often due to a sudden change in the schedule of the field or the court. The AS could work against this by helping the captains prepare an alternative time and location. I also think that a list of all sports teams and its location/time of the training should be made for clarification. The AS could work somewhat as a headquarter for all the sports teams in the school.” Finally, Marius Andioc values taking action as soon as the year begins: “what could have been done to coordinate clubs for the Minicrit with regular meetings could be done from the beginning of the year to be sure that everything goes in the right direction.”

  • Boosting Student Involvement:

Finding coaches became a difficulty for the AS last year when the SciencesPo administration decided that sports credits would only be accorded to clubs with a professional coach. This purely bureaucratic and insurance-related decision put many successful clubs with no need for external help behind in their organization and training. Furthermore, none of the Le Havre dance clubs are eligible to be credited. In future, this may lead to waning participation. Indeed, assiduity has visibly decreased in the institutions that are Bollywood and Chinese Dance. The new AS, like the old, with have to work harder than others in the past to keep our divers, LH specific clubs alive. Most candidates pledged themselves to increasing involvement in sports.

As stated by Kseniya Redka: “The main focus should be made on increasing the competitiveness of the campus and encouraging more people to join the sports clubs. This can be done through more numerous events like matches between local LH teams and ScPo, because it will give a sense of what is it like to play against others. Also perhaps by recruiting more people for participation in the sports clubs, captains will be able to form more of smaller teams during the practice to compete against each other. For the Minicrit team, establish clear attendance guidelines and set the objectives of each session, as well as providing AS with the evaluation of the course progress on the regular basis (every quarter of the semester).” Marius Andioc also emphasizes the importance of campus spirit: “a big part of AS job would be preparing next year’s minicrit by advertising students about it, how it matters for the campus, club commitment when you’re part of a team etc.” Finding ways to increasing budget is also one of the main solutions, along with increased coordination between team captains, practice locations, and coaches, to limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time.

Candidate Marcus Cheah commented on the link between this involvement and association finance: “I feel like in the long term for major future developments, we will require a certain increase of funding to solve the problem of limited resources, however, that only would be made possible if our teams are able to prove that we are worth acquiring those funding. So, it becomes a cycle of how we would need more funding and resources to get more victories, and we would need more victories to deem ourselves worthy of more funding. Hence, my opinion is that AS’s role starts from raising the athletic spirit on campus in order to encourage everyone’s full participation on sports teams. Also, I would like to strive for more casual pickup matches with everyone on campus at accessible locations like the beach basketball, volleyball courts etc., such that everyone could get more into sports.”

  • Making the most of the AS budget:

But an inexpensive way to increase the amount of training for a little fee is to compete against local student teams more often. As stated by Hiroki Yamashita: “A.S role is to be a resource for sports and health for everyone. Considering preparation for Minicrit, the sports team in Sciences Po currently has two major problems. One is lack of participation and the other is lack of training time. The first problem roots form the fact that we don’t really have practice games in a competitive way other than WEIC and Minicrit which leads lack of motivation. Thus, A.S. can negotiate to set a practice game with other schools such as the University of Le Havre.” Léa Leyfsword also believes that the “AS has to be an intermediate with the other student sport committees of LH in order to organise joint events (eg. Match amicaux) with other student teams in LH (or amateur teams like the Dieselles in feminine rugby for example),” along with Miyu Shu: “The AS can make sure to lend a hand to the captains in this respect and become the bridge between our sports teams and the teams of other universities in LH!” The benefits of the policy are also emphasized by Mia Raichon: “most of all, what I want is to organize sportive events and meetings between our teams and those of other schools in the city or LH university. As a beginner in rugby this year, I progressed and understood the game a lot more during the WEIS than during the whole first part of the semester. Then, put teams in a situation with some “LH tournaments” should make our teams ready to beat all the other campuses, without getting in trouble with the admin!”

The question of increasing budget come down to lobbying the administration and is therefore not entirely in the power of the AS. We therefore greatly appreciate the alternative suggestions by all candidates. Mia Raichon states that “It’s clear that there are huge differences between campuses concerning the place occupied by sport in the academic path. But what is a the core of success and victory is the motivation of players, and it’s something that LH has. So, what we need is more training opportunities for sports teams all along the year. The truth is that high-sport-level is not coming by itself, and team-sport captains can’t do everything alone to lead their team to victory. I really want to talk to the administration team about increasing the sports budget. But, I guess that previous AS has already tried and we still don’t have enough infrastructures, coaches or afternoon reserved for sport yet as other campuses (Nancy for example). If we face another refusal from the admin, then we still can do some simple things to make the difference. Thus, the AS role should be to help captains to organize some extra-practices, or why not professional-game-screenings with all the team to work on the technicality of a specific sport, determine strategies etc.”

Hiroki Yamashita continues: the “cheerleading team is managing to have more than one practice a week, while most of the other clubs have only one. So it is possible to manage both school work and several practices a week. But when this problem is due to training place or resource, the team has chosen to work out or do the weights if they want to have more practice. However, SciencesPo does not have the equipment. Thus A.S can help the team by providing a training equipment or training menu which uses only one’s body in order to make it easier to have more than one practice a week.”

Overall, candidates will need to focus on coordinating club captains, locations, and coaches, boosting student involvement and making the most of the AS budget whether they manage to increase it or not. But keep in mind that once again, these are the bare bones of As responsibilities, and a successful AS must be willing to go above and beyond.

2 – In your perspective, what is the biggest challenge the AS will face during your mandate and how do you propose to sort it out?

Marcus Cheah cites having enough participation to boost the budget: “I think the biggest challenge we will face is the exact problem of not having enough money to carry out our events, whether it is due to students not willing to cooperate and pay assoc fees, or because the school is not providing sufficient funding. Which is why, I propose to enforce the policy of “no fees paid, means no activity participation allowed”. On top of that, I hope that by starting off events small with lower expenses and in more of a “pilot scheme” form; and as times go by we will accumulate more funding and participants would gain more interest. Then, more money could be focused on producing a full form of that event in the end that is better organized and in-depth than the previous pilot one. This ensures more participation in the event as long as less financial problems and issues.” Furthermore, as Marius Andioc states: “It depends on which scale we think. The minicrit is going to be of course a huge challenge for the AS, and then what I propose could be applied. However, on a more student life scale, the AS presence is another big challenge to sort out. AS could organize more often events related to a sport that could include everybody: athletes, people who are not into sports to make them get along with it, curious people etc. “Sports discovery” events, which would consist in making discover a sport to people every one or two months.” Hiroki Yamashita focuses on general organizational aspects: “A.S organizes many events such as “amazing race” at the beginning of the year and the amount of the work increases especially before those events. The biggest challenge that A.S will face is the time deadline to organize the events. Especially events that require payment needs interaction with other students before the event and it could be a one reason for delay of the work of A.S. To improve the situation, A.S can post a calendar which shows upcoming events and payment deadline for those event and make the interaction between the association and students smooth by providing clear view of what kind of events associations are planning.”

The majority of candidates by far, however, mention the Minicrit as the greatest challenge to face the AS during their mandate. It is our opportunity to shine as a campus and showcase not only our artistic and athletic abilities on home-turf but also our city, Le Havre, as well as our creativity and dedication, organizing around challenges. Léa Leyfsword, Kokoro Osada, and Kseniya Redka both plan to overcome this challenge with a methodical approach to the problem, with early preparation, a clear schedule and an even distribution of tasks. Kalinka Le Goff instead emphasizes the teamwork aspect of planning this event: “we will sort it out by working as a team, sharing our ideas and our expectations.” Mia Raichon also focuses on the MiniCrit as our greatest challenge, and cites her experience biking at a National and European level, “ I admit that I haven’t ever organized such a huge event but I know from my experience what are the expectations of a competitor. (…) Before I felt lucky to represent my country as a competitor, now I would be so proud to represent my campus as an organizer.” Miyu Shu offers a focus on teamwork, funding, and organization as solutions suggested concerning what she tentatively called “SushiCrit.”Furthermore, in addition to negotiating training times, and organization like the aforementioned candidates, Yuqin Luo would focus on having high-quality communication, and “Reduce cost or earn more. Reduce cost can be in two ways: find cheaper resources and find a resource (might need as to help promote as well and if we do so we might have a permission). Earn more in two ways: set a portable market and sell drinks, snacks and souvenirs or to provide discount plans to campuses(like entrance fee in addition to a plan for drinks and snacks)”

After reading these interview answers, along with the candidate manifestos and posters, we hope the campus will feel more informed as a citizenry and will be more confident in when casting their ballots on Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM. In the words of Loretta Lynch, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, our country (university) and this world.”

Emma Dailey is a French-American second year student at Sciences Po Paris, Campus du Havre.