#campus #studentlife #youthgonewild
It was a week before the finals when a broken pipeline down in Jouy-en-Josas cut the HEC campus off from the water supply. Between 7 and 7:30 am, hundreds of students stood in their shower, tired, naked and confused. We all showed up for class, but everyone looked like they had pulled an all-nighter. It marked the beginning of twenty-four hours without water… Twenty-four hours, how dare we complain? A first thing I noticed was that people were well aware of the banality of our issue in the light of real-world problems. But disregarding the common sense, when you take away the luxury we take for granted, dynamics will change.
It took less than three hours for all the toilets in common buildings to get clogged. Not the nicest picture, but impressive for sure. And while people got slightly agitated because they missed washing their hands, or because the hallways started to smell like festival meadows, it was business school as usual. Classes continued and most of us were studying for finals. Some of us were giving important group presentations and others had job interviews. One of the football teams was brave enough not to cancel their training while everyone else felt bad for that one student who totally forgot about the situation and accidentally went jogging. What makes this event relevant for me, is that it shows how a minor change in comfort changes a great deal in dynamics. And I liked what I saw. It does not take twenty-four hours to realize how spoiled you are. Once we had acknowledged that, it all came down to coping with the inconvenience. The students currently listing to take over associations started to distribute water, and people checked up on each other to make sure everyone had at least one bottle for drinking or brushing their teeth. The situation never got out of hand and even when we got up to the point where the cafeteria could no longer serve coffee, no one really lost their cool. People made jokes instead of really complaining, and we got reminded of how privileged our lives are.
A few days later, and for the second time since we had arrived, silence came over the forest grounds. The library had already switched to a 24/7-policy and even at four o’clock in the morning you could still find students there. It’s surprisingly exhilarating to run into friends in the lecture building past midnight, realizing you are all in the same situation. A few days in, sleep deprivation reached new levels and some people started to walk and talk as if they were temporarily living under water. So how is it you still know you have come to the right school? I believe it is the smile on people’s faces -despite the black under their eyes- that proves my point: this is an exciting place.
When pressure builds up you know you will see decompression afterward. The night after the last exam, one of the common rooms was almost literally set on fire in one the craziest dormitory parties I have ever witnessed. Some say it was a natural response to demanding exam schedules, while others have trouble even remembering that night. It’s professional behavior by day and cutting loose by night. It’s changing dynamics and it’s very interesting to witness.
The next day, almost everyone left campus to spend the holidays with their families. After four months of living together in the same “walled community”, it was time to say goodbye to each other for a few weeks. It’s funny to notice how that made many students emotional. One by one, we walked out of this world apart we had grown accustomed to. At least this time we knew we were all coming back.