Stress and resourcefulness for students in Strasbourg faced with the closure of the university

In Strasbourg, the unprecedented closure of the university in this first week of 2023 to save money on heating is far from ideal for students who are crammed into a few outdoor buildings.

Michel Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg (Unistra), announced in September that “at the beginning of January there will be a third week of the Christmas break and in February a distance learning week.” An unusual two-week shutdown of buildings to combat exploding energy prices.

So since Monday, only a few rare libraries and university restaurants have opened in the Alsatian capital, which has been taken by storm by some of the city’s 60,000 students.

At the Alinea and Studium libraries, which are the only ones on the Esplanade campus, “we didn’t expect such a crowd,” notes the staff at the reception.

According to the administration, Studium has reached 95% of its capacity. Usually, less than a third of the 600 seats are occupied. The library also has several relocated classrooms where face-to-face classes are held.

– “Yes library” –

A situation that can become difficult for some students in the run-up to semester exams: “Our research requires group revisions and there is no space,” a group of Data Science master’s students told AFP. .

“I don’t know what to expect at the beginning of the school year. I think the exam will be more complicated: the teachers think we have an extra week to work, but our conditions are not good,” regrets one of them.

“The National and University Library (BNU) is the only library open until 10pm, so it’s full,” notes Théo, an Erasmus student back in Strasbourg for the holidays.

Although BNU, which is independent of the university, has implemented a plan that allows you to extend its hours, it can be really difficult to find a place there.

Chloe Domingos, vice-president of the Alternative Etudiante Strasbourg union, received statements from students who were expelled from BNU due to lack of space. “The situation is particularly problematic,” he said.

Like several trade unions, Chloé Domingos also opposed the closure of Unistra: “By closing its buildings, its libraries, the university transfers the energy costs to the students”. For him, “additional costs and stress between the organization increases tenfold.”

For some, exams will be shortened to one week from next Monday instead of the usual two.

– “Staff under tension” –

There is only one university restaurant in the city center and it is only open for lunch. Guillaume Kuhler, deputy director of Crous Strasbourg, explains: “Usually, we have Paul Appell, Esplanade restaurants, canteens on campus…”. “We served 800 to 900 meals for Gallia’s reopening on Monday, which is more than usual,” while 600 meals were planned for the first day.

But he wants to make sure that the “Gallia” restaurant can serve all those who come there after the first day when we call for reinforcements.

However, students report that they have to wait more than half an hour for service.

For Virginie Rivière, general secretary of the Crous CGT in Strasbourg, who works at a university restaurant in the district of Kronenburg, where there is only one U restaurant, “this situation is not surprising, the students are there and they have to eat”.

Since the start of the school year, he said, “the staff is under pressure. With the €1 meal for scholarship students and price increases, we have reached unprecedented attendance figures.”

By closing these two extra weeks this winter, Unistra hopes to slightly ease gas and electricity bills, which will rise from €10 million in 2021 to €36 million in 2023.

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