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Imane Ouelhadj, the new face of Unef

The year Imane Ouelhadj arrived for her bachelor’s degree, her university, that of Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine), was busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of May 68. Nanterre, the starting point of the movement led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and remained since a high place of student struggles.

But it is not this historical heritage that made the young woman switch to trade unionism. The one who is about to take the head of the National Union of Students of France (Unef) on March 4 joined this organization a few years ago to lead the fight against Parcoursup. The guidance platform “has set up a college selection and prevents young people from following the studies of their choice”she laments.

→ LARGE FORMAT. Parcoursup: investigation into the algorithms that decide the future of our children

The only candidate for the succession of Mélanie Luce, this native of Douai (North), who today lives in Gonesse (Val-d’Oise), will continue to demand the abolition of Parcoursup. With a belief: “It would be enough to open more places in the licenses in tension so that we no longer need to practice the selection there. »

An autonomy allowance calculated according to the student’s income

A pure product of public service and the massification of higher education, this granddaughter of a miner, daughter of a nurse’s aide and a truck driver who did not have access to university, also intends fight against student precariousness. A phenomenon highlighted and accentuated by the pandemic.

Imane Ouelhadj pleads for “an overhaul of the scholarship system, with an increase of €100 for each step”. It also and above all wishes to set up a “autonomy allowance calculated on the basis of the students’ income and not on that of the parents”, an allowance whose amount would be equivalent to the poverty line, around €1,000. The future president of Unef demands, finally, that those under 25 can, if they are not studying, benefit “the same rights as their elders”in particular access to active solidarity income (RSA).

→ DEBATE. Should the RSA be extended to those under 25?

registering “in the same line” that Mélanie Luce, who is giving up her mandate to devote herself to preparing for the entrance exam to a training center for lawyers, Imane Ouelhadj will oppose a possible increase in registration fees, mentioned recently by Emmanuel Macron before an audience of university officials.

The continuation of societal struggles

The young woman, who after a degree in language sciences is studying political science, also intends to continue the societal struggles of Unef, the fight against sexist and sexual violence and the recognition of different gender identities. She will thus fight for the establishment of neutral toilets (“open to everyone, next to men’s toilets and women’s toilets”). She will also fight so that trans people can be issued a diploma in two versions, one mentioning the first name of use, even before the change of marital status is officially ratified (1).

Imane Ouelhadj, who until now was vice-president of Unef in charge of social issues, does not intend to put an end to the four “single-sex” discussion groups organized once a year by her union to discuss the discrimination suffered. These groups are reserved respectively for women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals, trans people and “racialized” people (who feel discriminated against because of their origins).

Unef doubled by Fage

This initiative had earned many criticisms at Unef. The left-wing union, which has largely freed itself from its historical ties with the Socialist Party, has been accused in particular of racializing social relations and contributing to an Americanization of the academic world, marked by the growing influence of postcolonial studies. “This is a perfectly legitimate field of research. The colonial past is also part of French history,” believes Imane Ouelhadj.

Long the first student union, the Unef is now clearly overtaken by the Fage, historically very established in the sectors of health and sport, and which appears to be less politicized.


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