Student protests in France

France has seen many students protests, the biggest one occurring in May 1968 and lasted two months. Parisian students began protesting in their universities against the authority of the government, its moral austerity and capitalism. They demanded more freedom and more rights for women. Those protests were influenced by anarchists thinkers, and communists public figures like Mao or Trotsky. The movement led to violent clashes with the police and launched a large wave of strikes. This event, known as “May 68,” is the symbol of the student social unease during the 1960s.

Nowadays, students tend to pay closer and closer attention to their future, and protest when in disagreement with laws. This year, the French government released a reform of the work code. This project was ambitious and contained many articles. Upon reading the text, the majority of students feared that this law might impede them in their job search and harden their working conditions. Among other reforms, the government allowed a manager to force its employees to work longer everyday, and decreased the pay received for those extra hours. Although particular articles were not targeted, the protest echoes the worry of the younger generation, as postgraduate unemployment is already at 18.8%. To display their dissatisfaction to the government, some students manifested in various cities of France, and heavy media coverage followed.

Social media has enabled students to spread their ideas and show their fears, and many groups assemble assemble to protest. Social media has changed the way students demonstrate, as petitions signed online usually gain a clearer visibility and a larger audience. Signing a petition is a new trend to protest. Each year, petitions are launched, after the final exams, to ask examiners to change the notation, as students consider that the tests were too difficult. This shows the limits of student’s protestations in its trivialization.

by Bastien S.