Autumn is the season of student advocacy!

The autumn at the Student Union’s office is quite interesting each year since we look far into the future. Lead by the Executive Board, we formulate proposals for the Student Union’s Action Plan and budget for the year 2021 and assess the ongoing year.

The coming autumn seems especially exciting for me in many ways. The reason for this is that during the autumn, we elect the 49 members of the Student Union’s Council of Representatives for the term 2021–2022. The council and its work relates to the job of a Secretary General each week: I keep in contact with the members of the council, communicate about the Executive Board’s decisions, prepare upcoming meetings with the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the Council, and follow that the decisions made by the Council are executed. Each Council leaves its own mark to the job.

The Council’s responsibility is to oversee the Student Union’s strategic decision-making, lead the Student Union’s policy work and decide on budget. This means that the Council’s tasks are political. Their tasks direct the work of the Student Union and, in addition, the goal of their decisions is to influence what our Student Union and the society we promote is like. The elected council representatives have an impact on what topics surrounding the University, the Student Union, and the society around us will enter discussion. So that the discussion in the Council is rich and reflects our whole student community, becoming a candidate, and especially voting, is important.

In addition to Council work, it is possible to get involved with the University’s decision-making this autumn. We are looking for 93 student representatives to promote matters important to us students on all levels of the University’s management. There are open spots in Faculty Councils, the Academic Board, the Education Council, the Societal Interaction Council, and the Appeals Committee. The presence of students in these bodies is an essential part of university democracy. We students are not our own separate group and cannot be treated as the University’s “customers”. We are a part of the university community, and we have a right and responsibility to participate in improving our community.

Liisa Ansala has researched association activities and active participation in her dissertation. * According to Ansala, the reasons for participating in association activities include different social motives, a desire to have an impact on things, the experiences one receives through association activities and the appreciation for those, and a “lifestyle”. According to the study, association activities teach cooperation, communication skills, decision-making and political participation.

This autumn is an opportune moment to jump in on the activities of the Student Union. The work of the Council and student representatives is not only extremely important but also infinitely fun and educational. Council and student representative work teaches, among other things, negotiation skills since the meetings and evening sessions offer a chance to discuss the decisions to be made with people from very different starting points. Through active participation, you can gain new friends and learn a lot about the student culture of campuses you are not that familiar with. I hope to see you in this way next year!

Venla Monter, the Secretary General of TREY

*= Liisa Ansala, 2017. Lapin yliopisto. “Niin monta rautaa tulessa”. Aktiivinen kansalaisuus
järjestöaktiivien yliopisto-opiskelijoiden kertomana