BM86: Resolution on the unfair attacks FEF is facing

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In the past few months, FEF led a decisive campaign against the reform of the “décret paysage”, the decree governing higher education. This reform was strongly elitist,  threatening thousands of students’ right to access higher education, especially the  most financially precarious ones. 

As FEF believes in a free, quality, and accessible system of higher education. FEF was obviously against this reform. As it is inscribed in a logic of cutting funds  which, instead of funding public services to their basic requirements, expels the weakest. 

After surveying students and institutions, collecting data for months, and lobbying  for our rights, only to be mocked and ignored, FEF took to the streets and finally  gained some support from some parties and universities, which got them constant media  coverage and, while taking down our government, finally got some victories. 

It was to be expected that the opposition wouldn’t take it lightly, but the attacks  FEF is suffering now are as shocking as much as they are based on deliberate lies.  Not a day has passed without an article or open letter, questioning their legitimacy,  methods, and alleged interest. 

It is said that FEF doesn’t represent students and is a radical left organization. As  the decree on student representation states, FEF has to meet a quota of representing  15% of students in every type of institution – universities, vocational schools and  art schools – as well as 15% of the total student population in at least three  different regions. As of the latest count, they represent 163 640 students out of 224  000, or 73%, as well as 4 out of 6 universities, 17 out of 19 vocational schools and  15 out of 16 art schools, which greatly exceeds the required amount and proves their  legitimacy. Other organizations have existed in the past and lost their status due to  a lack of representativity; FEF is not to blame. The board is composed of students  coming from all political horizons and votes on each political decision. The  executive committee is forbidden to have any ties with political parties; they go by  the board’s decisions. 

It is said that FEF’s methods are questionable, that they create numbers out of thin  air to scare the students and attract media attention. When the reform passed in  2021, FEF surveyed students and made projections based on that. When the first HEI’s  projections came out earlier this year, they aligned with them. Indeed, students are scared for their future, but FEF didn’t vote for that reform, they fought against it  since its proposal. 

It is said that FEF is a cover branch of the labor party (PTB) and is campaigning  for them in the upcoming elections. They had long conversations with every party in  the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FWB)  and, at first, PTB was the only one joining  us. FEF wrote a counter-reform and asked every party, those in the majority in  priority, to propose it for us to the parliament, PTB was the only ones to accept it  without any amendments. FEF can also argue that, since they worked with all the  stakeholders – including the main ones, students – they got open support from members  of liberal organizations, including former presidents. 

While the lies were expected, their scale these days is close to unprecedented and we  are shocked and concerned that the media relays them without any contradiction. 

In regard to this situation and the impact it has on the student movement, FEF   (Fédération des Étudiant·e·s Francophones) and ESU (European Students’ Union) condemn  the current attacks faced by the student representatives. We call for the political  figures to stop undermining and delegitimizing the student movement, and for the  media to not spread those lies.  


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