Maximizing Utility: The BDA Elections
The election frenzy continues at the Le Havre campus as the artistic bureau takes its turn in the spotlight.
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The twelve candidates have spent the week relentlessly campaigning, communicating their ideas and demonstrating their various talents. As past Minicrit results have shown, the arts are the heart and soul of our campus. The Bureau des Arts (BDA) is instrumental in bringing our campus together. To help students better evaluate which candidate is most capable of promoting campus unity, the incumbent BDA has posed the question, "What will you do to tear down cultural barriers, and how can the BDA best promote artistic and cultural life in and out of campus, given budgetary, academic, and logistical limits?"
As so aptly stated by Emma Durand, “The BDA has a duty on this campus, beyond coordinating clubs and organising events, to create an atmosphere of acceptance, of kindness and of openness, in order for everyone to be more inclined to let go of their initial fear, and show their vulnerability and their passion.” This atmosphere epitomizes events held by the BDA; from Diwali to Chinese New Year, and Christmas to BDA night. Ayano Goto elaborates on the “sense of bonding that came from the respect and kindness that I believe each one of us have on campus.” Amber Dave says with conviction, “To tear down cultural barriers I would work towards making people of (different) cultures feel included because there are some minorities that are indeed under-represented and so the BDA could organize events on days of festivals of these communities that require no to minimal funding.”
But a majority of candidates have also expressed a desire to hold more small-scale events. Indeed, Jane Chan, Emma Durand, and Evgenia Ivanchuk present the idea of having presentations of the diverse variety of cultures on campus to fuel intercultural dialogue. Sarah Maaz promotes the idea of “small cultural festivals where people of different nationalities could show us more about their countries.” Nolwenn Voléon states that “some students are very good at writing, drawing or taking pictures and I want to provide a platform for them to be able to display their work more freely if they wish to do so; (and to) be able to host their own workshop to share some talent or technique they’re passionate about (e.g. origami, watercolor, calligraphy).” Furthermore, Camille Geneau elaborates: “differences should not be barriers but opportunities to share our tradition, to learn from one another and to open our minds.” Evgenia Ivanchuk suggests more LDD involvement, publishing more culture-oriented articles, whereas Pailey Wang proposes “intimate evening musical performances after class” to unwind after a long day. Monthly displays of visual art suggested by candidates including Cassandre Rohart, and Camille Geneau. Vinzent Wesselmann and Nolwenn Voléon stress on how more emphasis should be placed on the “non-performers”: the authors, poets, and visual artists. The latter suggests having an anonymous gallery to provide a space for the shyest among us. These exhibits would not only be a way to get to know our diverse artistic community but also allow us to further communicate with local university students. Getting other universities involved, much like getting more students involved, would require active promotion.
According to Fiona Beraud, “Promoting culture can be easy. You can make flyers, Facebook posts, posters…” Pailey Wang remains pragmatic and states, “I have a lot of practical skills in sound systems, video editing and photo editing which would be very useful for running and promoting our campus events. I am very concerned with ensuring that the diverse artistic output of our campus is shared and promoted on campus.” Furthermore, creating more videos and making them more easily accessible would prolong this feeling, and conserve the memory of each event. Vinzent comments, “I want us to be able to remember our performances in all of their glory. The first step for this is to implement a backup camera for all performances in order to ensure that no recordings are lost as they were last semester. Then, I’d like to work with the photography and film-making club to create short after movies for each large BDA event that capture the ambiance of the night through little interviews and behind-the-scenes shots that we can fondly remember in years to come.”
Interestingly, three candidates, Amber Dave, Sarah Maaz, and Cassandre Rohart, suggested cultural diplomacy through food. Amber Dave would encourages intercultural interaction through food served at BDA events. He elaborates and says, “All these are varied and diverse ideas to break down cultural barriers on campus and one or multiple of them can be used and show promise of being effective.” Sarah Maaz complements this notion by stating, “I would like to organize (and encourage other students to organize) cultural and cross-cultural dinners. To me, the conviviality of a dinner is the best way to open the dialogue and discuss.” Cassandre Rohart would “make daily cohesion and contacts better. Organizing a weekly-shared meal between 2 or 3 people, from different countries (on a totally voluntary basis) would make them share original recipes, ingredients, and memories together.” To promote French culture, Sarah Maaz would implement “more French cultural visits: we do have the artistic side (MuMA, the port, Le Havre's architecture...), but in order to provide the "French cultural experience" to international students, I would love to take them to wine and cheese caves, visiting farms (Normandy is a region that is mainly agricultural and has a fascinating cultural patrimony!) or even medieval villages.”
In addition to appealing to the stomach, candidates have other ideas to appeal to college students. Camille Geneau stresses the importance of a clearer schedule for the rehearsal spaces, to make it easier to plan around our busy schedules. She would also set up a book exchange program, to make access to a wider variety of books more easily available. Fiona Beraud would set up a more material reward system, an “art membership card”: “Just like when you go to Wok-Up, you would get a BDA stamp on your membership card if you can provide proof you went to the museum, the theatre etc. Anyone who finishes their card could get a reward (free tickets to shows? free piece of art? Credits (!!)? Who knows ! Let's get creative!)”
Overall, it is comforting to see that students standing for election are generally on the same page. This includes frequent, small-scale events centered around promoting multiculturalism, student-led workshops, intimate concerts, and temporary expositions. Furthermore, there are a plethora of interesting new ideas that could energize our increasingly diverse campus. Tomorrow, students cast their votes, and we hope that they vote with their ideal bureau in mind.
Emma Dailey is a French-American second year student at Sciences Po Paris, Campus du Havre.
Edited by Paxia Ksatryo