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Le Monde
Le Monde
2 Sep 2023

The Olympic Games Organizing Committee headquarters in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), August 14, 2023.

Can the CROUS, France's public administration for student life, force students out of their accommodations so that they can be considered suitable for use during the Paris Olympics in summer 2024? The answer is no, ruled the Paris administrative court.

In an order published on Thursday, August 31, the judge suspended the Paris CROUS's decision to limit the occupancy of accommodations in certain university residences to June 30, 2024, in order to accommodate people authorized to participate in the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games between July and early September 2024. The Paris, Créteil and Versailles regional education authorities had been asked in the spring to free up some 1,000 places each, a total of 3,000 rooms out of the 22,000 in the Ile-de-France region.

This announcement provoked indignation among several unions, including Solidaires Etudiant-e-s (Students in Solidarity), which took the case to the administrative courts on August 15 to contest the "requisition." The union group won its case in emergency proceedings, but the case is still to be decided on its merits in the coming weeks.

"The CROUS decision is considered to be an excessive infringement of students' rights, and therefore of CROUS's primary mission," said the student organization. For its part, the CNOUS, the national body that manages the CROUS network, has put the scope of the ruling into perspective, stating that it "does not call into question the purpose of making vacant housing available to accommodate staff involved in the Olympic Games, but rather the way in which it has, at this stage, been organized."

The administrative judge raised a number of serious doubts about the legality of the decision to reduce the duration of the student lease to 10 months – instead of the legal 12 months – as residents were notified by e-mail at the beginning of May. In particular, he noted that the board of directors of the Paris CROUS had not adopted a resolution to this effect, and that the contested decision should therefore be regarded as having been taken by the CROUS general director.

Only housing vacant on July 1, 2024, can be leased to the Olympic Games Organizing Committee (COJO), according to the provisions made in the March 26, 2018 law, relating to preparations for the event. It is not permitted, however, "to prepare the vacancy of these accommodations," warned the judge, who saw a "misuse of power" in reducing the duration of the right to occupancy. This "is prejudicial to the students concerned," who are "immediately [placed] in a precarious and uncertain situation regarding their ability to find accommodation next summer in conditions compatible with the obligations associated with completing their university program," he added.

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