I attended the recent Université of the French Young Radicals on behalf of IFLRY. This was a conference to discuss education policy, attended by what I estimate to be well over a hundred individuals. I based my activities there on the understanding that members of the IFLRY Bureau had already received and assessed a copy of their Programme.
The French were kind enough to conduct two working groups in English, for myself and other foreign guests, which significantly increased the depth of my understanding of their discussions. I attended these two groups, rather than the other concurrently held groups.
The first working group concerned students who studied outside their own countries in the EC. This consisted primarily of the representatives of IFLRY and LYMEC (from Italy and Portugal) discussing the matter, with little contribution from the French: I suspect they were unfamiliar with the schemes in question. The only comments which, in my opinion, illustrated a distinctly illiberal philosophy, came from a member of a foreign, supposéd Liberal, organisation.
The second working group discussed sexual equality and feminism. Although I had some doubts of the attitudes expressed by a number of participants, I am confident that these that my worries reflected a cultural difference between northern and southern Europeans. Basically, in my opinion, France has some way to go, and I wish the feminists in the Young Radicals good luck in their task.
The organisation of the Conference illustrated how the young Radicals could benefit from membership of IFLRY. For example, no facilities were provided for typing reports from the Working Groups, or for copying them for distribution to members present. As a consequence, the report back session of the main Conference over–ran slightly, so that instead of finishing at 10pm, it finished at 4:30am the next morning.
In my opinion, the general tone of what was decided would not cause us any problems—although I must state that my French is not very good when I am tired, so I may have missed or misunderstood something significant.
I suspect a number of IFLRY member organisations could benefit from one of two interesting practices of the Young Radicals—none of which was dubious. For example, I was quite surprised when discussing politics with a random selection of participants that many were not members—rather, they had been invited to attend the Conference as potential recruits. What was new to me was to see this strategy so well organised. Having said that, I did get the impression that the recruitment method for a number of these individuals was horizontal.
I have no doubt that the Young Radicals are a liberal organisation, whose membership could benefit both themselves and IFLRY.