Our campus finds itself in an interesting moment: Early April, after a fake mini summer and a fake mini break have both passed. It’s beginning to feel like a moment of premature melancholy, for the second years and the first years alike.
Just as the students have started making plans for the next year, the associations have begun looking to their collective futures, as well. Elections have started occurring, feedback has started to compile, and the 2018-2019 school year has started to loom. In a way, this is the nature of a two year program: life cycles are short, shared memory disappears quickly, and overturn is high. Therefore, change has to be just as fast.
This is an opinion piece, so here’s my opinion: the associations here on campus need to start looking for new ideas, new mediums, and new directions, before summer break takes us all away from Menton, not just physically but in our focus as well. Over the summer, first years will be focusing on those 140 hours of civic work, and second years will be focusing on all of the things the first years don’t want to start worrying about yet: their next move, and what will come after that. While some might be willing to put in work for their associations, it’s unlikely that anyone will want to come up with changes and new ideas, or that these will come to us when separated from each other by thousands of kilometers.
This holds especially true for the “baby associations” as they’ve been described. These are the greenest groups of our campus: either newly formed or old and ready for revival, all they need is someone to push for it. They’re known for, well, not being known for much. And to me, that’s completely okay; It’s fine to have associations that are there simply because they should be, to show that we have a campus spirit of solidarity (as promoted by Solidariteam) or one of equal rights (as promoted by the Feminist Union), or to facilitate debate or discussion in offline forums when an issue arises.
ASPA, to my understanding, has followed their mission and made the jump from “baby association” to whatever comes next: Africa Week, a week of conferences, events, workshops, even henna, signified a change from an association that meets a few times a semester to hold a small event, to one that has a tradition, event, school based funding, and clear structure. However, to anyone who participated in an event, there was one clear challenge: Despite good advertising, partnerships with other associations, and good planning, attendance at Africa week events was relatively low.
As a member of an association, it’s hard to find the will to organize a speaker when you doubt people will show up to attend. Obviously, we are a small campus, but when clubs make the effort to bring in speakers only to find 2 Sciences Po students amongst many more externes, it’s obvious that something needs to be done next year to get students more involved in campus life.
Whoever you are, whatever you’re doing over the next year, if you’re a student who takes part in an association, you have a responsibility to leave that association better off then you found it back in August. The time for change within our organizations is now, as is the time for new ideas. Make an effort to leave them behind as you head to minicrit, back home, or to a stage. And to the second years, next year, you might not be thinking of Menton much, but Menton will be thinking about you and the legacy you left behind. Make sure it’s a good one.
As the photographer and travel journalist Leila Ghandi said at her conference this past Wednesday, held in collaboration between the Feminist Union, ASPA, and Rock the Kasbah, “No matter what your project is, start now. Do not tell yourself ‘I don’t have the means.’ Find a way.” At Sciences Po, the means surround us: bake sales, funding from the school, but also non-financial means: intellectual capital and capacity, work ethic and interest. The only thing we have left to do, the only mountain left to climb for our associations, is participation and innovation. So provide it.
By Genevieve Grant