The General Assembly of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) was held on 19-20 November at the legendary Korpilampi conference hotel in Espoo. The Assembly decides annually on SYL’s action plan, budget and other documents guiding its activities for the coming year, and will elect a new Executive Board for the Union. In the General Assembly, power is exercised by the delegations of the student unions. The size of the delegations are determined by the number of members in the student union.
The TREY delegation’s General Assembly trip began on Friday, November 19 at 6 p.m. A sleepy but hilarious and enthusiastic group got on the bus. Nearly 140 delegates and their deputies from the various student unions attended the General Assembly, as well as many others, such as the Executive Board candidates, SYL’s office staff, and parners and greeters. The atmosphere was delighted. The General Assembly 2020 had to be held remotely, so this year’s live Assembly lifted participants’ moods particularly much.
TREY’s delegation had prepared for the General Assembly already throughout the autumn. The members of TREY’s delegation and our candidate for the unions Executive Board, Tuomas Karvonen, were elected at a meeting of TREY’s Council of Representatives in August. TREY had commented on preliminary General Assembly materials in a round of statements, and delegates had been thoroughly familiar with the Assembly practices and Executive Board candidates.
The General Assembly is usually two days long. On the first day, there is usually a general political debate and a preparatory discussion on the materials, such as the action plan, the budget and the policy paper, and any changes to them. The first Assembly Day is long, as in the evening the delegates are divided into working groups focusing on various topics to discuss in detail the Assembly documents. Working groups are the most important place for delegates to influence the final decisions.
Any participant at the Assembly may give a brief speech in the general political debate. TREY delegates spoke actively among others, for example on sustainability, active student advocacy, multilingualism and the development of student culture.
At the General Assembly, we also heard greetings from many of SYL’s partners, such as various youth organizations. The most anticipated speaker was Li Andersson, Minister of Education herself, who raised current themes and concerns about many students in her speech. Minister also took a stand to the worrying situation of Tampere University.
The second day of the General Assembly, on the other hand, is quite a thumping of decisions after the previous day’s preparations. The Assembly will decide on the final changes to the policy paper, action plan and other documents, on the basis of the discussions of the previous evening’s working groups and the union’s Board’s night meeting. In other words, the debate and voting will take place almost all day. Some of TREY’s delegates’ motions went through, too.
The election of the chairperson and other members of the Executive Board is one of the most exciting moments for the Assembly. The election of the board was very tight. The votes were counted for up to two hours. Our Secretary General, Venla Monter, was honored to be the eldest of the vote counters and to declare this very exciting result. Eventually, six candidates, including our own Tuomas, were elected to SYL’s Board in 2022! Read more about SYL’s new board in our previous news.
Korpilampi was a very pleasant place to stay, as the food was great, the cafe buns were huge and in the evening you could still go to the sauna and swim. At the General Assembly, we got to get to know each other and the delegates of the other student unions, as well as to make hard decisions with a good team spirit, sharing memes and having fun in between. After the exhausting but successful General Assembly, the atmosphere was at its peak on the return bus, when we competed in praises for the Assembly, each other, TREY’s team spirit and student movement!
The Assembly had a very good TREYHEM mood and a sense of community in the entire student movement. According to a well-known saying, the General Assembly is indeed the best time of one’s life!
On behalf of the TREY delegation,
Hilla Mäkinen and Aleksi Niemi, the chairs of the TREY delegation