A hundred students from Sciences Po Paris have occupied the historic building of this nursery of the French elite since Wednesday evening to demand the resignation of its director Mathias Vicherat, who was questioned by the police in a case of domestic violence.
“An occupation was voted for yesterday by a show of hands during a general assembly which brought together between 250 and 300 students”, at the call of the student unions, Inês Fontenelle, of the Student Union, told AFP.
Thursday morning the building was still occupied, according to her, by around a hundred students.
Mr. Vicherat and his partner Anissa Bonnefont, who mutually accused each other of domestic violence, were taken into police custody on Sunday evening before being released on Monday. A preliminary investigation was ordered by the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The director of Sciences Po Paris wrote on Tuesday to students, teachers, employees and members of the institution’s councils to ensure that he “hears” their “emotion” and promises to “meet them very soon”.
Around fifty students had already blocked the entrance to the historic Sciences Po Paris building on Tuesday morning.
According to a statement from the students, “his continued leadership of our establishment is an insult to all victims of gender-based and sexual violence.”
Sciences Po Paris educates some 15,000 students, half of whom are international students and 25% scholarship holders.
Often presented as the factory of French elites, Sciences Po Paris has accumulated setbacks and scandals around its leaders for around ten years without its academic prestige being tainted for the moment.
Students occupy Sciences Po to demand the resignation of its director Mathias Vicherat, heard by the police in a case of domestic violence, December 7, 2023 in Paris / Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP
Mathias Vicherat took over as head of Sciences Po Paris in November 2021 from Frédéric Mion, who was forced to resign in February of that year for having concealed suspicions of incest targeting political scientist Olivier Duhamel.
Mr. Duhamel was then the president of the National Foundation for Political Sciences (FNSP) which supervises Sciences Po Paris.
A former student of Sciences Po, from which he graduated in 2000, Mathias Vicherat is a former classmate of President Emmanuel Macron at the National School of Administration (ENA), the flagship institution of the senior public sector.
Shortly after his arrival at the head of Science Po, he declared sexist and sexual violence “absolute priority”.