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Anti-discrimination and secularism

Sciences Po is committed to promoting a culture of equality and inclusion. It has established a wide variety of procedures and tools to guarantee all university-members a positive, respectful and welcoming environment in which to work and study.

In February 2023, a 26-member working group chaired by Jeanne Lazarus, Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po, submitted a report (in French) on discrimination at Sciences Po to President Mathias Vicherat. Aimed at understanding the problems encountered within the institution, the report analysed study and working conditions from the perspective of inequality of treatment based on gender, origin, sexual orientation, disability and other factors. 

Following this review, the President of Sciences Po tasked the Office for Sustainability and Campus Life with the design of an operational framework for preventing and responding to discrimination, which is set out in the anti-discrimination action plan 2023-2026 unanimously adopted by Sciences Po's governing bodies in June 2023. 

The institution is committed to implementing this action plan and to providing support to anyone who feels they have been the victim of discriminatory comments, behaviour or actions, in accordance with Sciences Po's student life regulations and the French legal framework. 

This proactive policy includes actively combating racism, anti-semitism and all other forms of hatred, including homophobia, ableism and sexism, in line with our policy on gender equality. 

Section #discrimination


The term “discrimination” has multiple meanings and can be defined differently in different contexts. In law, “discrimination” refers to unfair selection or treatment of individuals in the same situation on the basis of prohibited criteria. It is a criminal offence provided for under the terms of Law °2001-1066 of 16 November 2001. There are currently 26 prohibited criteria of discrimination (En) within French law, and these can be grouped into three categories:

  • Criteria relating to identity in the broadest sense (gender, sex, presumed or official nationality, ethnicity, race etc.)
  • Criteria relating to fundamental rights (political convictions, trade union participation, presumed or affirmed religion etc.)
  • Criteria relating to a temporary or permanent condition (health, disability, place of residence, family situation etc.)

The contexts provided for within French law are numerous: access to goods or services, employment (recruitment, career progression, dismissal), education (application process, selection, assessment) or access to public spaces (nightclubs, shops, local council premises).

Discrimination can be direct (on the grounds of prohibited criteria) or indirect, i.e. an ostensibly neutral rule that results in less favourable treatment of individuals on the basis of one of these same criteria. Discriminatory abuse is defined as follows in Article 1 of the Law of 27 May 2008: “Any unwanted behaviour [linked to one of the prohibited criteria] to which an individual is subjected with the aim or result of violating his or her dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.

  • You can contact Fanny Adda, the Sciences Po anti-discrimination and secularism officer, who will be able to provide you with information, guidance and support. 
    Contact: referent.lcd@sciencespo.fr
  • France Victimes, our partner providing an external listening service (in French and English) and support in the event of discrimination, harassment or any other reprehensible act. This service is free and confidential, and provides advice or referrals to professionals close to your campus, depending on your needs (lawyers, psychologists and social workers). Reserved for Sciences Po communities, this telephone line is open every day from 9am to 9pm.
    Contact: +33 (0)1 80 52 33 83

To make a report, contact the anti-discrimination officer (referent.lcd@sciencespo.fr). 

In the event of an incident, there are several possible routes:  

  • A confidential discussion
  • Launch of a preliminary internal investigation (CEIP)
  • Mediation
  • Targeted awareness-raising 

It is possible to contact the Officer in complete confidentiality, although anonymity cannot lead to the launch of an investigation: it does, however, mean that you can benefit from advice and information.

Launch of a preliminary internal investigation (CEIP)

This administrative investigation is carried out by the Internal Preliminary Investigation Unit (CEIP), at the request of the victim and following a report. The CEIP is responsible for leading an investigation to determine the plausibility of the allegations, while adhering to the principle of the presumption of innocence.

In order to guarantee its independence, the CEIP is chaired by an independent magistrate. It is a collegial body whose other members include a legal specialist and representatives from the different departments of Sciences Po, who vary according to the profiles of the alleged perpetrator(s).

During the investigation, the CEIP systematically conducts hearings with the survivor, any witnesses and the alleged perpetrator(s), in line with the principle of Audi alteram partem (the right to a fair hearing for both sides).

On the basis of the facts, information and any documents supporting the allegations, the CEIP writes up a report stipulating whether or not the matter should be referred to the relevant disciplinary body. Its recommendations are submitted to the president of Sciences Po within two months of the initial report.


A mediation process can be set up by the anti-discrimination officer or another qualified person.  The aim of this process is to establish a dialogue between people while ensuring that the institution's values of equality and inclusion are upheld. Each approach is tailored to the situation and the needs of the participants concerned. 

A targeted awareness campaign

It may also be possible to work with a group (an association, a department, etc.) to share a common body of knowledge and good practices in the fight against discrimination. 

Disciplinary procedure

If Sciences Po’s President refers the report to the relevant disciplinary body, the chair of the disciplinary body appoints two rapporteurs to investigate the case. The disciplinary body issues a report determining whether or not a disciplinary fault has been committed and, if so, what sanctions should be applied.

Find out more about the disciplinary procedure.

In addition to reporting discrimination, it is also possible to benefit from support measures. The anti-discrimination officer can help people in difficulty affected by a discriminatory situation to obtain the right support, by rapidly putting them in touch with the relevant departments as necessary (health, housing, schooling, social assistance, etc.) or with the appropriate external contacts (Ombudsman, specialised associations, etc.). 

Section #laicite


Laïcité is the principle of secularism in France. Enshrined in the French constitution, laïcité guarantees the neutrality of the state and the equality of all individuals in the eyes of the law, regardless of their religion or beliefs. It protects freedom of thought and freedom of speech.

Article L141-6 of the French educational code stipulates that “the public higher education system is secular and independent of any political, economic, religious or ideological influence. It strives for objectivity of knowledge and it respects the diversity of opinions. It must guarantee all those involved in teaching and research the possibility of free academic, creative and critical development”.

Sources: laicite.gouv.fr and the French educational code 

The officer’s primary role is to provide information and guidance in response to queries or questions about laïcité, or in the event of any conflict arising from the principle’s application. This is done in accordance with current legislation in France. The officer is bound by professional secrecy and confidentiality, as per regulations set out in Article 26 of the Law of 13 July 1983.

If you have any questions:

Any Sciences Po student or staff-member who has a question relating to the principle of laïcité may contact the Anti-Discrimination and Secularism Officer at referent.laicite@sciencespo.fr.

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