Voulez-Vous Coucher avec Mes Parents? Sex Poster Calls Attention to France Housing Shortage

Students in France have long had a hard time finding a place to live. A campaign by the student union called attention to their plight using posters depicting a couple having sex in the parents' bed. And it may have worked.


One has to feel bad for the situation French university students find themselves in. A year ago, they staged huge protests against a new law making it easier for employers to fire young people. And this year, they had to resort to a scandalous poster campaign just to convince the government to put a roof over their heads.

A recent campaign run by the French students' union UNEF showed a naked couple having sex on a bed -- with the parents of one of the amorously-engaged students sleeping on either side. The message of the poster was clear: Because of a chronic housing shortage, a huge number of those attending university in France have to live at home for lack of anywhere else to go.

It is far from a new problem. According to a statement on the UNEF Web site, there are just 150,000 living quarters for 2.2 million students nationwide. In 1960, there were 100,000 lodgings for 200,000 students. According to a 2006 study, almost half of those who can't find lodging end up living with maman et papa. The student union demanded that the government make €1 billion ($1.48 billion) available for the construction of new domiciles.

The sultry campaign may have had the desired effect: Earlier this month, French Minister for Higher Education Valerie Pécresse announced a new plan budgeting €620 million to build 5,000 new lodgings and renovate a further 7,000 per year until 2012. The government likewise expressed support for so-called "intergenerational housing," a system whereby students are matched up with elderly people who have rooms to spare.

But UNEF is not totally satisfied that the government plan will provide the relief necessary. The government pegged the yearly allotment to the French budget, meaning that any shortfalls could endanger the plan. Plus, students are wondering -- in a UNEF press release -- why the government bothered to praise such "trick measures" as intergenerational housing. Such measures, they say, "will not solve the problem of the housing shortage."

One shudders to think what might be on the next UNEF poster.

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