“Our students represent a concerned and not dismayed youth”

Mathias Vicherat, director of Sciences Po Paris, during a conference within the institution, March 28, 2022.

It was at the end of the Olivier Duhamel affair, named after the former president of the National Foundation for Political Science accused of incest on his son-in-law, that Mathias Vicherat, in 2021, took the lead. from the school where he himself had studied at the turn of the 2000s. Twenty years later, the survey published on Thursday October 6 by researchers Martial Foucault and Anne Muxel, A committed youth (Presses de Sciences Po, 240 pages, 17 euros), describes a student community very marked on the left, which legitimizes a culture of protest, sometimes radical, much more than its elders. The director of Sciences Po reacts to the work in which he perceives in particular “a lucidity of the students facing the state of the world”.

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In twenty years, the cultural and political universe of the right has almost disappeared from school. Support for left-wing ideas rose from 57% to 71% and Jean-Luc Mélenchon won 55% of student votes in the presidential election. Sciences Po, a school of the left therefore, and of the radical left…

In all IEPs [instituts d’études politiques] of France, the students are on the left of the chessboard. Here, they are very largely in favor of globalisation, of European construction, 89% defend great tolerance with regard to the ideas of others even if they are contrary to their own, their appreciation of the word “wokism” is negative at 53% and 85 % consider secularism to be a positive concept. These are not attributes of what can be called the radical left. It is a nuanced portrait of the Sciences Po student, revealing the commitments of youth.

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Among their favorite personalities, we find pluralism: people on the left like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but also Emmanuel Macron, Christine Lagarde, Ursula von der Leyen. As for the Republican right, it has fallen sharply throughout France, as shown by the last presidential election, and, moreover, the profile of Mr. Macron’s voters is mixed. However, the UNI union [de droite] is one of the most important at Sciences Po.

Loneliness, malaise in the face of global warming, the possibility of a world war are expressed by a large majority of students… Is the protest culture of the generation of 2022 based more on existential fears than on a commitment? visionary?

The effects of the Covid crisis are still present. In reality, you are less alone at Sciences Po than at any university. There are more than 200 associations and when you come for a course, you don’t leave immediately afterwards. We do Sciences Po to get involved. The anxiety of the students is linked to their lucidity. They belong to the generation of the IPCC report [Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat] which indicates that there are only three years left to act, that of the war which returns to the gates of Europe.

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