from January 15, 2024 to January 31, 2024
Published on January 15, 2024 Updated on January 15, 2024

In Conversation with the Student Council President of EUTOPIA

The Student Council President of EUTOPIA, Paul Adrien Viala, a Corporate Law student of CY Cergy Paris University, talks about his thoughts and aspirations regarding EUTOPIA.

What attracted you to EUTOPIA?

I heard about EUTOPIA for the first time in my second year at CY. A friend of mine introduced me to EUTOPIA as a wonderful opportunity to meet people from the whole of Europe and travel. So, at first, I followed her words and went for a project without a lot of expectations, and indeed she was right because EUTOPIA is a wonderful opportunity for the students. Later, I started doing a lot of projects and involving myself in the alliance activities more and more.

What is the significance of the Student Council in EUTOPIA or any alliance?

The Student Council of EUTOPIA or any other university alliance is very important, as it’s the heart of the representation of students. Sometimes students are not put in the priority position in these alliances, and the student council’s role is to make sure that the students are being heard and listened to.

As a student, how do you think the European University Initiative is making a difference in the European Higher Education sector?

I think it allows us to meet other students from other countries, and it is very important as it trains us to learn how to behave and how to work in cooperation with students from other backgrounds. Already in our university, at CY Cergy Paris University, we have a lot of diversity. We are happy about the fact that students from very different backgrounds come to our university. By meeting people from other countries, we learn to work and collaborate with students' points of view, and we do see that there are other ways to do things in a much simpler way. The richness and diversity that we have in Europe prepare us to go further and be more efficient. We have a lot to learn from other countries and their cultural practices.

As a student, what is the relevance of EUTOPIA in CY?

I would say that it enables CY to grow. We have a lot to learn and benefit from what is done in other universities, exploring the projects and ideas that they have. We can learn and implement some of them. Likewise, it’s a great opportunity to show others what we are good at and to inspire them. I think EUTOPIA is vital for CY as it anchors us in the European Union, allows us to be fully integrated into Europe, and creates European citizens for tomorrow.  I think that’s the goal of EUTOPIA.

As a student, what do you think can be improved in EUTOPIA?

EUTOPIA is a young organisation and of course, there are a lot of things to improve in it. In my opinion, there are two main challenges for EUTOPIA. Firstly, EUTOPIA needs to be more visible. In every partner university, there is a lack of visibility for the students. A lot of students don’t know about EUTOPIA. It should be at the centre of the students’ lives on campuses. Secondly, the important challenge that EUTOPIA is facing is that it definitely should be more student-centered. There are a lot of opportunities for students but I feel that in the decision-making processes, students are not greatly involved, and there definitely should be representation from students.

How do you coordinate with the members of the student council from different partner universities?

The Student Council of EUTOPIA is meeting regularly once a month. It is composed of two or three students from each partner university. Each university has one voice when it comes to decision-making. I think EUTOPIA has a lot of values that are very important for the alliance and us as the Student Council. I can now hope that the actions that we are doing in the future will be linked more with the avenues to ensure that the values don’t stay as simple statements, but embody them and allow us to develop in this direction.

How do you think EUTOPIA is nurturing Inclusion and Diversity on campuses?

As a first step, EUTOPIA acknowledges diversity and differences. That’s a good sign. Whether the staff or the students selected for the projects, EUTOPIA is showcasing diversity in a visible space like representation is always a good step to take when it comes to diversity. But I think there is still a long way to go. We could implement more actions that allow us to reach this objective of diversity and inclusion.

What must you tell the EUTOPIA Alliance as the Student Council president?

As President of the Student Council, I'd like to start by saying how pleased and hopeful I am that an organization like Eutopia exists. I think it's really necessary to recognize the opportunity that this alliance offers us as students, it's a privilege to be able to meet and work with other students from the EU. I'd also say that Eutopia has some big challenges ahead of it to match its stated values and that we're hard at work every day perfecting our alliance because we care about it. I hope that Eutopia will continue to be inclusive in the future and that we're moving in the right direction.