The Student Union of Tampere University (TREY) is shocked by the Electoral Commission’s decision to transfer tenure track professors from Group 1 to Group 2 in the upcoming Academic Board elections. The decision goes against the Electoral Rules of Tampere University. TREY is highly concerned about the reasons behind this decision and its consequences.
Transferring tenure track professors from Group 1 to Group 2 in the elections decreases their chances of joining the Academic Board’s operations. The composition of the Academic Board is already imbalanced: professors comprise the majority of the Board compared to other teaching and research staff, other personnel, and students. The current composition of the Academic Board is eight (8) professors, six (6) other members of the personnel, and five (5) student members. TREY’s view is that the composition of the Academic Board should include the same number of members from all three groups to truly create equal opportunities of influencing for each group.
We in TREY advocate for the opportunities of participation and inclusion of the whole university community and believe that they should be at the core of Tampere University’s operations. The university should promote the participation of people from all kinds of backgrounds in the science and education community. We students think that all community members should have the right to participate in preparing and making decisions that affect their own community groups, on all levels of administration. We disagree with the decision to include tenure track professors in the already large Group 2 in the election and think that they should be included in Group 1 instead, along with other professors.
According to the Election Rules of Tampere University, Group 1 consists of professors and associate professors. The Election Rules grant them eligibility for office and electoral rights through this group. TREY finds it concerning that according to this new policy, when a tenure track professor advances on their career path and is promoted to full professor during the term of office of the Academic Board, they would lose their place in the Academic Board. We do not think that this is right, as it either slows down career development or means that a person elected loses the eligibility to represent their own background group. Even though the Universities Act does not recognise tenure track professors, we want to highlight what was already mentioned in a statement by the Equal Opportunities Committee, published on the Intranet: “In the most common interpretation (which is included, among other things, in the Election Rules currently in force at Tampere University and the Election Regulations of, e.g., the University of Jyväskylä), associate professors fall in the same category as full professors”.
In addition, the change in the composition of the election groups clearly affects international personnel’s chances of participation. The Equal Opportunities Committee brought it up in their statement that 8% of the professors in Tampere University have an international background, while the percentage of tenure track professors with international background is 21%. Therefore, the change that is currently being planned would weaken the international staff’s chances of being elected to the Academic Board. TREY’s Policy Paper states that it should be easy for international staff and students to participate in the operations of different administrative bodies at the university. The abovementioned decision would be a step in the opposite direction.
TREY supports the Equal Opportunities Committee’s proposal to overturn the decision or to return the matter to drafting. To us, this the only correct solution, as the community groups in question should have a real chance to influence matters that concern their own group. TREY demands that all university administration activities, from drafting to decision-making, allow opportunities of participation to the whole community and especially to the groups subject to decisions being made. We would like to remind the University about the strategy of the Tampere Universities Community: Impact through integration.
Emmi Juolahti, Member of the Board
Tuomas Karvonen, Member of the Board
Tiia Virtanen, Specialist in Educational Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 40 713 0077
Picture: Jonne Renvall, Tampere University