Students in Strasbourg are helpless in the face of the closure of the university

An unprecedented two-week shutdown of the university to save energy is hurting students, who are being squeezed into a few open buildings.

“At the beginning of January, there will be the third week of the Christmas vacation, and in February there will be a week of distance learning”, Michel Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg (Unistra), announced in September. An unusual two-week shutdown of buildings to deal with exploding energy prices. So from Monday 2 January 2023, only a few rare university libraries and restaurants are open in the Alsace capital, which has been taken by storm by some of the city’s 60,000 students.

Alinea and Studium libraries, the only libraries accessible on the Esplanade campus, “We didn’t expect such a crowd”, note the staff at reception. According to the information provided by the administration, Studium has reached 95% of its capacity. Usually, it occupies less than a third of the 600 places. The library also has several relocated classrooms where face-to-face classes are held.

“The university library is full”

A situation that may be difficult for some students on the eve of semester exams: “Our research requires a group review and there is no space”A group of Data Science graduate 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 that we have an extra week to work, but our conditions are not of them regrets it.

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Erasmus student Theo, returning to Strasbourg for the holidays, notices this “The National and University Library (BNU) is the only library open until 10:00 p.m., so it’s full”. 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 Student Union of Strasbourg, received statements from students who were expelled from BNU due to lack of space. “The situation is particularly problematic”she complains.

Like several unions, Chloé Domingos also opposed the closure of Unistra: “By closing the university buildings and libraries, the energy costs are transferred to the students”. For him, “Additional costs and organizational stress increase tenfold for them”. For some, exams will be shortened to one week from next Monday instead of the usual two.

Electricity and gas bill of 36 million euros

There is only one university restaurant in the city center and it is only open for lunch. “Usually we have Paul Appell restaurants, the Esplanade, dining halls on campus . . .”Guillaume Kuhler, deputy director of Strasbourg Crous, explains. “We served 800 to 900 meals for Gallia’s reopening on Monday, which is more than usual.”, and 600 meals were planned for the first day. But he wants to be sure, “Gallia” restaurant can serve all who come there, after the first day we called for reinforcements.. However, students report that they have to wait more than half an hour for service.

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

He became aware of it when the school year started “Staffs are under pressure. With a €1 meal and price increase for scholarship students, we 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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