At Polytechnique and Sciences Po, wind of protest during graduation ceremonies in the face of the climate and social emergency

We could have let ourselves be lulled by the accepted speeches of the leaders of the École Polytechnique reminding all students « l’excellence » et ” responsibilities “ of such a diploma, to be a little bored, to be moved by the talent of the string quartet composed of students who interpreted the first movement of quartet n° 1 in E minor Of my life from composer Bedrich Smetana.

The graduation ceremony of the Polytechnic school, whose red thread was “finding its place”, was held Friday, June 24 in Palaiseau (Essonne), and went straight, like the military school. Until two young women come on stage. About fifty comrades join them and launch into a lively criticism. A glance at the worried staff of the school is enough to understand that this initiative was not on the agenda. In front of the families of the five hundred and fifty students in the class, Sirine Kadi and Salomé Laviolette first recalled their condition as privileged children, just out of the campus bubble where money “was seldom a subject”. “We were taught neo-liberal theories as well as climate physics. We were forced into silence when the image of the school was at stake. We were bombarded with conferences led by representatives of consulting firms, while boasting of service to the state. »

First grain of sand in the machinery of this event. The second comes a bit later. The “godfather” of the promotion, Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of TotalEnergies, had recorded, on video, a message of congratulations to the graduates of X. Funny irony, when some of these students fought for many months against the installation of a research center of the oil giant on their campus. In the Arago amphitheater, where the students were gathered, half of them turned their backs on their “godfather”, when others whistled at him.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “Total hypocrisy”: at Polytechnique, the revolt of students against the oil major does not weaken

political narrative

The coup de grace came when three young graduates came to tell their story. One has become a baker in South Africa, one is going into the cinema. And the last, Benoit Halgand, launches into a political story: “I could have easily joined this capitalist world that I had been around a lot, accepting a position that would give me access to all the privileges of a polytechnic student: money, power, prestige. I could have believed in these CSR promises [responsabilité sociétale des entreprises] and green growth, believing that I was going to change things from the inside… Before it was the system that changed my interior. I wish good luck to those who try this path, but personally I do not wish to be a useful pawn of the system. »

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