NO! to Pecresse: a democratic(?) occupation of Toulouse's largest university

Article published on Nov. 8, 2007
Article published on Nov. 8, 2007
On 6 November an Action Committee ('Comité de lutte') composed of militant students from the Université de Toulouse II Le Mirail blocked the suburban campus in protest against the education reforms proposed by president Nicolas Sarkozy. Improvised barricades of tables and chairs prevented access to offices, classsrooms and departmental libraries.

The occupation of the campus, paralleled in several other French cities, follows through on the slim majority decision of a general assembly of students held on 30 October: 195 for and 181 against. Another, louder and much more crowded (approximately 1200 students), assembly took place today to debate the blocking of the campus and its aims.

Amid debate over the new 'Pecresse' laws, which Sarkozy claims will 'modernise' French universities, accusations of undemocratic behaviour were levelled at assembly organisers and students union  representativess. 'Opponents of the occupation are lumped in politically with Sarkozists and fascists' by proponents, said one angry student.

Others such as Agathe Cilia, who spoke in the assembly against the blocking of the campus, pointed to votes being 'stalled' until the militants were sure of a majority – today's meeting did not come to any resolutions until 4:00 pm. 'The decision to block was taken by a militant minority, without consulting the rest of the students,' said Cilia, 'and the votes, which I took part in counting, were falsified, pure and simple'.

Other opponents of the occupation, exasperated with the assembly, regrouped at the entrance of the campus and circulated a petition calling for an immediate return to class.

The final decision of the students' assembly was to continue to block the campus, a result which led to a massive walk-out among 'no' voters and to several isolated incidents of violence as opponents tried to demolish the barricades. Another mass meeting, scheduled for Thursday 8 November, promises to be a hot one

Daniel Ross:  Canadian from who teaches English and is studying a Masters in history at the uni in Toulouse


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