INTERVIEW – By announcing that he wanted to close the doors of the University of Strasbourg (Unistra) for two more weeks than usual, its president set fire to gunpowder. Attacked by the unions, cut down by the Minister of Higher Education, Michel Deneken defends himself.
To cope with rising energy prices, the University of Strasbourg (Unistra) decided. Among the students who are barely recovering from the two years of confinement linked to the health crisis, the unions who consider that it is to carry the weight of the energy bill on young people and Sylvie Retailleau, the Minister of Higher Education who -even, who denies that the sobriety plan is done “at the expense of the students”, the reactions did not take long to fall. Michel Deneken, president of Unistra, defends himself.
Challenges – Given the context of the exit from the health crisis, why did you go to that extreme?
Michel Deneken- In the first place because there is the urgency for the bill to fall. This year, for Unistra, we went from 10 million euros to 13 million. But it will be 20 million next year. No matter how much I ask our engineers, they assure us that technically there is no other way to really impact our energy consumption. Of course, we’re going to turn down the heat and encourage everyone to turn off the lights… but that’s not enough.
. What do you answer?
I will first demonstrate to the Minister that there will be no impact on the students, which she is right to condemn. We must be right, we want to close nine more days, in January and February. It is a quasi-holiday period, where the premises are not very crowded. We are far from the 500 days of distance that our students had to endure during the health crisis. I will also tell you that there is another way to do things: leave our buildings open, keep heating and put our budgets in deficit and ask the State to compensate! I’m not sure the minister would approve of that any more.
Aren’t there other solutions?
The other solutions are longer term. It is the thermal renovation of our buildings. But here, the University of Strasbourg is 600,000 square meters! But we have to stop with the “green[…]