College closes for 2 weeks in winter to economize, angers scholar unions

The University of Strasbourg plans to close its buildings for an additional two weeks in January and February. Student unions have denounced “shattered internal democracy” and deplored the measure, which will reinforce the insecurity of the most disadvantaged students.

Michel Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg, announced on September 19 that he will take a number of measures to save energy. In a video aimed at students (see below), Mr Deneken says that for the 19°C target in buildings, the heating will be switched on “as late as possible”, but above all the buildings will be closed for an extra two weeks. .

Michel Deneken announces Unistra’s contribution to energy prudence (Unistra / Youtube video)

The closure of buildings in Strasbourg, accessible to around 57,000 students, will therefore be extended from 3 to 9 January 2023, and in February they will be closed for an additional week when classes will only be held remotely. In an interview with “France Info”, the president of the university notes that “environmental gestures are highly demanded by our students. »

According to Afq, “internal democracy that is being tasted”

However, the General Federative Association of Strasbourg Students (Afges), which supported Michel Deneke when he was elected president of the university, criticizes the “trampled internal democracy” in the media and social networks and declares that it will oppose it. this event. Afges, who sits on Unistra’s board of directors, criticized her choices in a statement published on September 20:

“Although the intention is admirable in the face of the climate crisis, these measures will seriously affect educational conditions and seriously undermine equality among students. This closure puts the brunt of the increase in energy costs on the student population, as their heating bills will automatically increase when they study at home. »

All student unions opposed the closure

With this decision, without consultation, the president of Unistra managed to reach an agreement with the university presidency, which is usually quite conciliatory, and the more radical unions such as Solidaires Etudiants and South Alsace Education. These two hardline unions on the left issued a press release on the evening of September 19. The text criticizes the distance education caused by the closure of the University during the exam week:

“We know the consequences of distance education: the violation of equality during the examination period, the deterioration of educational and working conditions, the isolation of students and employees in a critical and dangerous situation. »

“Students are paying for the crisis”

Éléonore Schmitt, president of the Strasbourg branch of the alternative trade union and association, reacts to this event, which was discovered in the classroom at 13:00 thanks to the teacher. A second-year master’s student at the Institute of Politics (IEP) in Strasbourg highlights the contradictions of the university’s president, Michel Denecke:

“The decision to hold video classes for a week knowing that the president of the university wrote open letters demanding the reopening of universities while in prison is quite funny. Now he is the first president to announce that he is closing his buildings. »

For the trade union official, “the students are paying for the crisis.” Student insecurity has already increased at the start of the academic year with inflation and the government’s refusal to increase our scholarships to match this inflation. Besides, now we’re still screwing up our educational conditions, it’s hard to swallow…”

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