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The slow delitement of the house UNEF

The gap widens between the student union and its elders on anti-racism and secularism.

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The slow delitement of the house UNEF
It is story of an "old lady" who loses a little her spirits, a centenary, born in 1907, that some relatives no longer recognize. This old lady is UNEF. The student union has been going through a deep crisis for a little less than a year. The most visible symptom was his relegation, during February student elections, behind FAGE.

The national Union is, today, Resonance fund of divisions of left, its bowel struggles and its debates on such burning subjects as racism and secularism or opening of a prayer room during a national collective ( " of Union) and holding of "non-mixed racialized" meetings within its management. And if, on ground, activists of UNEF continue ir "work of defending interests of students", Fight "to conquer new rights" or against system Admission post BAC (PDB), what happens inside union shows a discomfort Generalized. That paralyzes him.

The last example was held this summer. In middle of holidays, eight members of management (over thirty) are landed. Their common point: all are to unsubmitted France (BIA) or are close to it. They want to openly campaign for BIA. Among m, Cassandra Bliot, treasurer of UNEF, a key position since he gives hand on file of 20 000 members claimed (against 29 000 in 2005). The management suspects that some seek to put union in hands of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. "It was not a putsch." "We wanted to be able to politically campaign outside union," says one of jurors today.

@UNEF good it pitching to UNEF. The meléchonistes have resigned from BN. Several executives supported @FranceInsoumise as @WilliamMartinet

— AbelMestre (@Abel Mestre)

Lilâ bottom, president, justifies her decision by brandishing banner of union independence: I refuse to fall back into past pitfalls. We don't want to be accountable to anyone. There must be no political tendencies. In clear, Lilâ bottom wants to turn its back at a time when management of Union (or its ancestor UNEF-ID) took its instructions from currents of Socialist Party. And does not intend to replace former sponsors with new ones from BIA.

Suspicion of "purge"

The eviction of se eight leaders is experienced by many as a "purge". Since n, several general student assemblies (AGE; local sections of UNEF) have united to write a virulent text with respect to management. For team loyal to Lilâ bottom, this ten-page document was dictated by some "former activists" today in "unsubmissive".

One of main suspects is Yannis Zaman, who was a working ankle in campaign of Danielle Sara (BIA) in June parliamentary elections. He denies any involvement. Some accuse councillor of Paris of wanting to get hold of UNEF for benefit of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. "That's wrong!" I never wanted to follow internal fights. It is not role of BIA to organize fractions in unions, strangles this former activist of UNEF-ID.

Ors point to finger, William martinet. Former President of Union – particularly during Labour Law movement – he passed his hand in 2016 to Lilâ bottom. Since n, he's joined BIA. He also swears not to be puppeteer of "unsubmissive" of UNEF.

Prayer Room

These tensions are not anecdotal. Of course, organization is rid of image of "nursery of PS". But it is deprived of a strong structuring and a political backbone. This creates practices – some call m "drifts" – never seen from memory of a student activist, especially around secularism and issues of "political anti-racism." "These reflections have filled this void," notes an ex-ruler. That is most structuring thing in Union today. It is binder in UNEF. »

The scene remained engraved in minds of some "elders". In October 2016, at University of Nanterre, stands National Collective where William martinet must bid farewell. A few "comrades" have a very special request. They want to have a room to pray. The decision is made to leave m a room that must be used later in a training workshop. A text message is even sent to say that you can pray if you want to. "A specific request was made and someone told m that a room was available because we were in Amphi," Today admits union leadership.

This choice provokes an outcry among ancients attached to a classic conception of secularism. Benoît Hamon, who has a lot of support in "CPE generation" (those in charge in early 2000 years) and who wants to implement his July 1st movement on campuses, is also moving from this decision.

READ ALSO: "CPE generation": From UNEF to power

Lilâ down, she, does not regret anything: "That does not ask a question." Secularism no longer creates debate. We are clear about what we say, how it is applied and how it is defended in universities. On this subject, consensus exists internally. "We have a frontal cleavage with some former heirs of political left," notes one of eight "unsubmissive" jurors, believing that episode of Prayer room – which has not been repeated – "concerns privacy of a few comrades".

This conception of secularism, backwards of what has always been defended by UNEF, finds its pendant in fight against racism. Turning its back on "Universalism", organization now thinks in terms of "intersectionality", crossing and intersection of different discriminations (sexual, but also social and racial).

Non-joint racialized meetings at National Office

It was in this capacity that UNEF supported Nyansapo Afro-feminist festival, organized in Paris by Mwasi Association in spring, and part of which was "unmixed, reserved for black women". Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris – whose first deputy is a former president of UNEF, Bruno Julliard – condemned this initiative.

In response, union defended organizers of festival and asserted that "non-mixed militants are not discrimination". He adds: "To say that presence of whites is indispensable, it is basically idea that is conveyed by those who believe that people involved in racism should not have right to organize among mselves." A position that finds its translation in-house. Several times, indeed, "non-mixed racialized" meetings took place within framework of National Office, Union Government.

This practice was born under mandate of William martinet, very sensitive to se mes. "It's a tool among ors." "There has never been such a rapid progress on se issues as it has been since meetings were set up," activist said. The "racialized" [Black and Maghreb] members of Directorate have requested a non-gender activist. It is applied to specific requests, according to account of a leader. In a clear sense, "racialized" come toger to talk about problems of discrimination y undergo internally. The rule during se meetings is not to cite a name or a tendency. Then problems raised are resolved collectively in National office.

Non-mixed activists are not 1 discrimination @Anne_Hidalgo. @UNEF condemns will to ban .... Https://t.co/IvemwmuiNM

— UNEF (@UNEF)

In order to justify itself, management points out that non-mixed meetings for women have existed for years and that this has never aroused any shields. Everyone was in favour of se non-mixed racialized meetings. No one has yelled, says a member of management. This made it possible for us to realize, dominant [whites], of unconscious practices that we had to change. »

To believe Unéfiens, success is such that y think generalize this practice to local sections, on basis of volunteering. This type of meeting is not yet known outside organization, very suspicious when dealing with subject. The "non-political mix" is debated on left and cleavage is profound between its supporters and its contemptuous. There is a strong bet, moreover, that se meetings will make former leaders howl.

"They don't agree with us, y don't have same software." We draw on our reflections in extreme left, says one of eight "purged" which falls in agreement with management on this subject. It is certain that when we read Charlie Hebdo, we are not inclined to share this analysis ... The "elders" still know chorus by heart: we must take care of young guard.

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