BM84: Resolution on violence on campuses
For most of us, we have the chance to live in countries where freedom of speech and
access to higher education are mostly guaranteed. Defending and expanding those
rights is the core of our engagement, the essence of the student movement, as well
as improving higher education and making it accessible to any citizen regardless of
Gaining rights is hard and the history of student movements has taught us that great
victories for human rights came at high cost, and sometimes to the expense of their
own lives for our predecessors.
For decades we have been able to discuss, dialog and improve student conditions in
France by discussing with student unions, student associations, ministries and by
fighting while respecting our values and institutions since protesting is guaranteed by
For decades, we managed to gain rights and improve the conditions of students by
peaceful actions, dialog and by seeking compromise, according to our democratic
and European values. But this bright era may be coming to an end as violence is
starting to rise again in French universities.
Political campaigns for elections of student representatives are tough in French
universities. Since we have a huge pluralism of organizations, different student
organizations have to defend their political program, promote their future actions
and are held accountable for the representation work they have done – voluntarily –
for their past two years mandate.
Those periods are very often exhausting, but rich in debates. Discussing ideas is the
very core of democracy and is absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, we noticed an
increase of tension during the last election cycle and reported 2 major cases of
physical violence during electoral student campaigns.
During the election of the University of Paris 13 in November 2022 in the city of
Villetaneuse, several of our volunteers that were discussing programs with students
were taken apart, physically controlled with 4 men from another student organization
on 1, insulted and sprayed with various household products and punched. That
violence required the intervention of the campus security agents as well as police,
and the access on campus was forbidden to two of the student organizations
campaigning during this day for the rest of the election. The mayor of the city of
Villetaneuse publicly called to put a stop to any violence in this university.
During the election of the University of Rennes 2 in April 2023, twenty persons broke
into our local union facilities to commit violence on the person resting after a day of
campaigning. After that, the facility was emptied of all its furniture in the university
hall. La FAGE has many reasons to believe, from testimonies, that those persons were
motivated by a call from another student organization whose meeting was held just
During this day, the university was locked down by protesters and the police had to
intervene many times to maintain peace. A TV report was made about this event as
well as a huge media coverage.
Those two events were aimed at local unions from our network, but it’s not isolated
events. Other local unions suffer from the violence on a daily basis – the whole thing
being exacerbated during the student elections. Moreover, other French student
organizations suffer from that kind of violence for various reasons. Even if we may
disagree on ideas, we should never have to settle things by fistfights.
We find it even more absurd to receive that violence from organizations that are
supposed to share the same background ideas as us, which is to promote access to
higher education for all as well as many other ideas.
ESU and la FAGE believe that universities should be places for debate, sharing of ideas
and education, not a place where those who use violence end up winning the debate.
ESU and la FAGE condemns violences committed in any case, and think that our
organizations should be cautious when it comes to discussing with unknown student
organizations, as violence between student representatives should never be
Proposer: FAGE, France