Sciences Po appoints new head amid sex abuse scandal

Students are recounting instances of abuse on Twitter following resignation of university director and governing board chair

February 12, 2021
paris
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Sciences Po has appointed a new interim director after being embroiled in a deluge of sexual abuse allegations, insisting that “the victims of this violence are our first priority”.

Hundreds of students at the highly selective French research university, whose alumni include many of the country’s political leaders, including president Emmanuel Macron, have recounted instances of rape and sexual abuse on Twitter, using the hashtag #sciencesporcs – “science pigs”. They claim that abuse is endemic at the institution and staff are unwilling to take their complaints seriously.

Last month, the chairman of the university’s governing board, Olivier Duhamel, resigned after his stepdaughter accused him of sexually abusing her twin brother. The university’s director, Frédéric Mion, also stepped down this week following pressure from students after admitting that he had been aware of the incest allegations since 2018 but failed to act.

Sciences Po’s vice-president for academic affairs, Bénédicte Durand, was appointed as interim administrator of the institution by the minister of higher education, research and innovation.

In a message to students and staff, Professor Durand said that the university had “invested in two projects that will allow us to strengthen our ethics and transparency governance and our mechanisms to fight against gender-based and sexual violence”.

“The victims of this violence are our priority,” she said, adding that the university has a sexual violence helpline for confidential support.

“Beyond this painful question, each and every one of you must be able to find the support and care they need within our institution. We will have to do better and more in this area, without delay,” she added.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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