The Council of Representatives – the highest authority of the Student Union chosen by TREY’s membership – has now met altogether 13 times. In addition, the Council has had several evening sessions, Administration Committee meetings, Council groups meetings and other slightly less formal meetings. We have also been working on steering documents, writing statements and participating actively in discussions of a myriad of contexts.
During its term, the Council has refined itself in a way that leaves no room for questions. The unit’s MO could indeed be described with the word “professional”. If there was a national competition of councils, this Council would definitely be in a league of its own – in terms of both style and skill. And we’re only halfway through the term!
The Council began its work with the notice of meeting sent on 3 October 2018, in which Suvi Parhankangas and Juha Köykkä summoned the first meeting of TREY’s Council. And here’s a direct quote from that notice: ”We have snacks and coffee, but since the meeting is likely to drag on, we recommend bringing your own food”. At that moment, many were unaware of how long the meeting could actually drag on; the meeting that started at 16 o’clock sharp ended up running till 23.51.
This very first meeting gave us a hint about what would follow. No issue can slip under the Council’s radar; only good and careful decisions are made there. Decision-making always includes respecting other people’s views and engaging in argumentative discussions in a productive manner. More often than not, this leads to rather long meetings. However, my duty as the Chair is to ensure that the discussion is thorough, meaning that each individual in the group is guaranteed sufficient time to form and express their opinion on the matter. The alternative would be to haphazardly go through the agenda and get home early, but I would hesitate to even consider this option, especially with a Student Union this young.
Finding a comfortable ”place” as the Chair of the Council has been the most challenging aspect of this term. I’d go so far as to call leading the 6–8-hour meetings an easier task. The core reason for the difficultness is well-known for many people in TREY: this is the very first time anybody is doing this! The only parallels are those of the former student unions, but the situation has changed strikingly of late.
My main question remains this: What is the Council Chair’s role in relation to the Student Union’s office? Are they a part of the office, and if so, how close-knit are their daily activities? What is the Council Vice-Chair’s role in all of this? How do the Council chairpersons operate in relation to the Council? How fine exactly are the lines?
I’d say that right now we are already in a pretty good place, but there’s still work to be done. The chairpersons who will be elected in November will keep on looking for that good place, and this time they will be elected simultaneously with the new Executive Board. I personally hope that the Board and the Council chairpersons would immediately form a tight bond and would operate as a cohesive unit. The Board benefits from having the Council near and vice versa. So, Council chairpersons of 2019, don’t be afraid to be a part of a great office and the Council!
Our Council has already carried out an enormous workload, all the way from approving the Main Rule to establishing a student media. Still, we have a lot of work ahead of us before TREY is done. If this year’s theme has been finding TREY’s own path, then next year we will have explored that path even further than now. As a consequence, electing the Council and choosing the plan of action must be done carefully. Luckily we will get to enjoy Christmas holidays right after making these important decisions, but the exciting moments of the Council will nevertheless continue again in January of 2020. Decision-making has only begun!
Thank you all for being there and being patient. We’ll see each other in January at the other end of the meeting hall J
Chair of Council