As the French (and everyone else) like to joke, les manifestations (protests) are the unofficial national sport. Up until now, I’ve only been a witness. At first I was fascinated, then amused, then irritated, then just plain bored with them. What seemed so interesting because it was so uniquely French is now just a nuisance – I don’t care if they’re protesting for national solidarity or anarchy, I just want the bus 39 to run on time.
They protest everything – it’s their right, and they exercise it. And judging by the coup that almost took place in my L’Europe en crise class, the exchange students at Sciences Po seem to have adapted the same habits.
My maître de conférence for my European Union class is often absent. He’s cancelled three classes out of the 12 we’ve had this semester for various reasons – he works for the Sénat and often has unexpected work emergencies. None of us mind – our conférences are held Friday mornings at 8h, and we’re more than thrilled with the occasional opportunity to sleep in.
The problem is that for every cancelled conférence we’re scheduled a cours de rattrapage (make-up class), and it is not so easy to find another time when an entire class is free to meet. Our quick-thinking maître took the easy route and has scheduled all of our cours de rattrapage for Saturday mornings – when there are no other classes scheduled at Sciences Po. That’s why we made up a class from the beginning of May this morning.
There are strict rules regulating the cours de rattrapage at Sciences Po. Each class is supposed to meet exactly 14 times during the semester, and if a professor or maître needs to cancel a class, he is responsible for finding a time to make it up. Because cancelled classes are considered to be the fault of the teacher, the cours de rattrapage are attendance-optional for students. Professors are not allowed to base any grades on the make-up classes, schedule any tests or have any homework due – if a student can’t (or doesn’t want to) be present for cours de rattrapage, he can not be penalized in any way. That’s why our maître caused a bit of a scandal yesterday when he informed us that we’d be having an hour long galop (like a midterm) during our class this morning.
When he announced the galop he reasoned that he was getting us into the zone for finals with a midterm during the second-to-last week of classes. We all groaned a bit – not only were our Friday night shot by having to wake up for a class, but we’d be spending them studying – but we resigned ourselves to no fun this weekend and retreated to our various arrondissements to study the European crisis.
At around 22h last night, I’d just finished eating dinner and was just gearing myself up for a bit more revision when I received an email from two girls (from Portugal and Poland, respectively) in my conférence.
(Translated from French) Greetings everybody,
We’re writing to you concerning the galop tomorrow morning and to propose a solution. We don’t think any of us had enough time to revise for this galop. It’s neither moral nor legal to give an exam during a make-up class, especially because we just found out about it the day before and normally a galop is announced with at least one week’s notice.
So the solution that we propose is to demand, under the name of everybody in the class, that we don’t proceed with the exam and instead concentrate on the final subjects that we’ll be studying this semester.
Considering that we’re all in the same boat, buried with work and exams, we demand your support tomorrow.
I was thrilled – a coup! A revolution! An excuse not to study out of solidarity with my fellow étudiants intérnationaux! I spent the rest of the night watching old episodes of House on my computer and went to bed far later than I’d intended.
As I climbed the stairs to salle 301 at 10h15, I was excitedly imagining our mini-manifestation. When I walked into the classroom, though, I found everyone sitting docilely with their notes and the prompts for our galop in front of them. Apparently it wasn’t a real galop. We weren’t even being graded – this was just our maître’s way of trying to help us prepare for our final exams. A test test – one that he’d correct and hand back next week to help us recognize our weak points before the final.
No Sciences Po student in their right mind would protest extra help for finals, so just like that, our revolution fizzled. Instead we spent an hour writing our faux galops on the subject of Pensez-vous qu’on puisse résoudre la crise actuelle de l’Union européenne uniquement en réformant ses institutions? (Do you think the current crisis in the European Union can be simply resolved by reforming its institutions?) I answered no, and I’ll find out what our maître thought of it next Friday morning.
So much for my first manifestation participation. I still have two months though, and I can only hope that the Cité universitaire will try to ban males from the women’s dorms again just once before I leave.
And, just because it entertains me so, here are a few of the Google search terms that have led people to this site in the past few weeks:
• hunting locations tacoma
• girl getting dressed in the morning
• ballet tights hypnotized
• girls licking with rubber flip flops
• under the skirt of Segolene Royal