Immediate action for students

The Greens are calling for immediate support for the students in France. A Sorbonne University medical student committed suicide on Friday, January 15th, which marked the third student suicide in a month. The Greens have now raised their voices and are calling for an urgent response to the students’ hardships. Officials of the Les Verts describe the students’ social and psychological conditions as very vulnerable since the start of the pandemic. This situation is mainly due to the loss of student jobs and the decline of the support they get from their parents. The students’ harsh living conditions have led them to head to food and aid distribution centers in large numbers.

Difficult living and study conditions

Online learning programs have failed to keep students in schools, and the dropout rates have massively increased due to the lack of social life and hope for future opportunities. Statistics show that almost one in every six students has ended their studies during the pandemic. Meanwhile, seven in ten students are worried about their mental health, and one in three students shows signs of psychological distress. 

“A third of students today show signs of anxiety and depression”

Senator Monique de Marco

In a question to the government, the environmental Senator Monique de Marco said:

 A third of students today show signs of anxiety and depression. Their living and study conditions have severely deteriorated. The prolonged isolation risks having dramatic consequences. Especially with classes only being held online and an almost nonexistent social life.  

Green Demands

The Greens have called for immediate support for the students in France. They have demanded that the French government “act quickly for all students to respond concretely to a malaise that could be long-lasting.” Read Les Verts’ demands here.  

In a statement announced on their website, the Greens have called for mobilization on January 20: To protect the right to study, we call for the reopening of universities and a massive investment in higher education and research. The government has given 470 billion euros for large companies while student life and higher education are neglected. The government must provide additional resources for universities and CROUSs (Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires) to guarantee compliance with health regulations and education and social support up to the crisis. See original post.

Situation at the Paris 8 university

Adonis is a first-year master’s student at the Paris 8 university. He studies cinema and was willing to talk to Global Green News about the pandemic’s impact on his life. Adonis’s living conditions were already harsh before the pandemic.

Finances

Q – How did you manage your living expenses before the pandemic, and how did the pandemic affect your financial situation? 

I get a monthly student grant of 550 Euro. From Which I pay 200 Euro for my room’s rent. The room usually costs 360, but because I get financial aid, I only pay 200 euros. I have other monthly bills for things like the internet, a phone plan, school, sport, and activities expenses that come up to 250-300 Euro, leaving me with almost no money left. As a result, I used to work in the summer and have part-time jobs. I used to work 15-20 hours a week to be able to support myself financially. After the pandemic started, I was not able to work anymore. 

My family lives in a small city called Reims. When the first lockdown happened, I moved back with them and tried to find a job there, but it was almost impossible. So, I ended up going to Corsica to work as a waiter for the summer. The plan was to save some money from my work so that I could go back to Paris. 

Student life

Q- How did the pandemic affect your student life in Paris, both socially and academically? 

https://www.univ-paris8.fr/

Well, it had a huge impact, especially because I study cinema. Everything is closed; we cannot go out and shoot anymore. Classes like scenario writing and classes where you need face-to-face interaction are very inefficient when held online. Now everything related to teamwork and group projects is put on hold! 

Social life

As for the social life, Paris is a big city, and you cannot always go visit friends because it is hard to travel within the city. We do not have large natural areas where people can hang out and keep following social distancing instructions. Most of the people here used to meet at social events like dance classes or other social activities. Otherwise, the only way for entertainment here was the countless galleries, museums, public parks or bars, and cafes, but all these places are closed now. As a result, the mental condition of a lot of the students went down. The lack of social life and the challenging distance study environment have led many of my friends to spend more time alone and develop hard existential questions that pushed several of them to depression and anxieties to the extent that they had to drop their studies

Funding and recourses

“The effect of the pandemic was different for different social classes”

The situation at the Paris 8 University is more challenging than other academic institutes in France because we have large numbers of students. In fact, the effect of the pandemic was different for different social classes. The more money you had, the easier you could adapt to the new reality. The same applies to educational institutions. Paris 8 does not have the proper funding to successfully transition to online learning, unlike other richer institutes that implemented developed online learning systems, making it easier for their students to continue studying at a distance. Paris 8 and the CROUS have tried to support students by implementing learning systems that enable first-year undergraduate students to alternate between in-person and online classes or have hybrid schedules. There is also a food support program that provides cheap meals of almost 1 euro per meal for students in need. 

The low-income population

All in all, the low-income population, including students, have suffered since the beginning of the pandemic. When the government loosens the restrictions, the numbers of infected people multiply among the low-income class because of their life circumstances, and when the government tightens the restrictions, it becomes harder to work and to secure basic life needs like food and rent. It is also especially stressful because of the crowded and small apartment buildings people live in and the lack of options to go out or socialize. 

The answers to the interview questions were not edited for content.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/coronavirus-france-university-students/2021/01/24/9de7dcec-5cdf-11eb-a849-6f9423a75ffd_story.html

Fajr Alsayed

Fajr Alsayed is pursuing a BA degree in Joint Honors in Communication and Political Science at the University of Ottawa. He is an activist for environmental, social protection, and social development causes. He advocates for global justice and freedom of thought. In his free time, he daydreams of a green and bright future!

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