So I am guessing we have all heard about the student protests. Right, so you would have to be living in a cave to miss it. Roy, a friend of mine from CSOM, wrote me asking about the HEC students reaction. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of weeks thinking about this and the best way I can describe it is to say that the next best option to living in that cave would be living at HEC.
If it weren't for my addiction to online news, I wouldn't have known about the protests. It isn't that the students here don't care, it is that they are privileged in a way that I have a hard time even beginning to describe. If you ask the students directly how they feel about it they will say that they support the student efforts. However, by supporting I mean that they are most concerned about the possibility of class cancelling.
Now, let's talk about this privilege. When we first came to campus, the international student advisor touched on this fact during our orientation. She said to not be surprised if we hear phrases like 'we are the best' or that 'HEC is number 1.' Which made me giggle, Then she followed it up by saying that it was true. These students are the top of the field for their age. Each year HEC admits 300 students from 50,000 applications. Here is where the privilege becomes prevalant. In order to be accepted at HEC you must be tri-lingual and have completed 2 years of preparatory work with excellent marks. This is where things start to bug me a little bit- from what I understand preparation work for HEC means a intelligence yes, but also a considerable family financial contribution. Not to diminish the hard work that these kids have done in order to get in here, but I am sure that the fancy schools and private tutoring helped too.
So why are these kids not worried about job security for the under 26 market? Because they aren't worried about job security at all. HEC is a pretty sweet resume booster and they are guaranteed a job once leaving HEC. Students do not take academics seriously at all once they are here, but rest assured they do take 'networking' very seriously. It is because of the diminished academics, which mind you I am not complaining about too much, that I have time to reflect on life's greater issues.
What are the kids worried about? Drinking? Yep. Student government elections are this month and each group that runs is sponsored by a corporation. Now for a point of reference, when you run as an individual at CSOM you get $25 to help in your election, which almost no one uses. Each team of 20 individuals or so is sponsored by a corporation and is given $200,000 to campaign. Not a typo. There are 3 teams, so that means $600,000 being spent on drinking and bribing. Again, not a typo. I have heard that there are helicopter rides next week. Can't wait.
Last week was the week of 4 Thursdays, with each night a different party in the cafeteria (. . .this is the room ikea built) being transformed by each of the groups running. Yes, we are choosing our elected representatives based on their ability to throw a good theme party. Two
themes stuck out to me. 1. Girl Power- which had posters featuring pictures of lipstick and Kellogg's corn flakes- pointing out the fact that Corn Flakes is Fat Free. Yes, women can and should be epitomized by lipstick and fat free corn flakes. Yes I am being sarcastic, don't hate-mail me. The other theme was 2. Cowboys and the Rouges (the reds). I think the title alone is enough to see why it bothered me.
Part of the reason, I am a little thoughtful about this topic lately is because of something I witnessed in London during the March 18 protest of the war in Iraq. The 3rd anniversary was commemorated around the world with various protests and we were fortunate enough to particpate while we were in London. What struck me so powerfully about this event was the diversity of the protesters, many carried signs, many carried children and many carried Starbucks. All were in community and all were present to the issue, passionate about the cause. photos
So, due to the fact that HEC is 20 minutes outside of Paris, the greatest inconvenience is the fact that the trains haven't been running. In the meantime while Paris is off protesting the greater needs of student rights, we are playing Cowboys and Indians in the woods.