Your voice of reason at the Plateau de Saclay
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Dr. Naibaf, is it not dangerous to celebrate in times of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Dr. Naibaf: We have put sanitary measures in place to protect the participants. We follow a uniform strategy: Students from ENSTA have to keep a distance of at least 1.5m to other people. Students from ENSAE have to keep a distance of at least 2m. Students from the Télécom schools have to wear a mask, and students from Polytechnique have to stay at home. Thus, students from the Télécom schools who take courses at Polytechnique have to stay at home and wear a mask.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Sorry, but what is so uniform about this?
Dr. Naibaf: Each school has their own uniform policy. Therefore, IP Paris has a uniform strategy.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Great! When will the event take place?
Dr. Naibaf: The event takes place four weeks after the start of the second period. This means Monday December 14 for Télécom SudParis, Friday December 11th for Télécom Paris, December 7th for ENSTA students in the M1, and December 14th for ENSTA students in the M2. Ecole Polytechnique does not work by semesters, and thus their opening ceremony is the 8th of February. I don't know when the event is for ENSAE, because I am at Télécom Paris.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Fantastic! How will the invitations be sent out?
Dr. Naibaf: The invitations are sent out to the official student email accounts. Since we are not sure all students have an account yet, we will also use cars with loudspeakers on the campus and carrier pidgeons for the more remote student residencies. The lecturers will just receive an email the night before, with the subject “URGENT”. This has always worked so far.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Amazing! We have heard that not all students have badges yet to enter the buildings of the partner schools. How can they enter Ecole Polytechnique for the event?
Dr. Naibaf: Students can get into the building in the same way they currently get into their student residencies: they wait until someone else exits the building, and then sneak in.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: How can the lecturers participate?
Dr. Naibaf: Since a few weeks ago, lecturers of one school can update their badges so as to access the other schools. So a lecturer who wants to enter the building of Ecole Polytechnique just updates her or his badge at the badge terminal (inside Ecole Polytechnique). But lecturers can also participate via video conference. The login code for the conference will be sent out via the shared administration system. This is the same system that we also use for registering students, listing courses, and grading students. It will be in place by September 2021.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: But... this means that they cannot attend, right?
Dr. Naibaf: Please don't blame us. We are working under high pressure already. It is very challenging to put all the infrastructure in place after having invited everybody.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: But... would it not have been more reasonable to first put in place the infrastructure and then invite everybody?
Dr. Naibaf: We are following the same strategy as we did at Paris-Saclay: We first invite the students, and then put in place the necessary administrative systems and procedures. Our motto is “Students first!” (“Infrastructure later!”).
Fluctuat & Mergitur: But... is this not unfair to the students and the administrative staff who have to help them?
Dr. Naibaf: The responsibility for our strategy lies with our governing committees. They describe and explain their decisions in the proceedings of their meetings. Unfortunately, I am only a lecturer, and thus do not have access to these proceedings.
Fluctuat & Mergitur: Let us maybe talk about something more cheerful: the content of the opening ceremony. What will the ceremony be about?
Dr. Naibaf: The ceremony will be about the values that all the partner schools share: This is first and foremost our excellence. The second value that we care about is our identity — the identity of ENSTA, ENSAE, Télécom Paris, Télécom SudParis, and Ecole Polytechnique.
Correction: An earlier version of this text incorrectly stated that IP Paris uses mounted messengers to inform the students. This was wrong. We have now learnt from the systems administration that actually carrier pidgeons are used. Sorry.