I wrote about students’ role in the society in the newspaper of Åbo Akademi University’s Student Union (Page 11). My editorial can also be found below.
Bullen in English
Students or citizens?
As I’m writing this text, the first of May is still ahead. As you all probably already know, this is the ultimate number one student jubilee in Finland. We have picnics, serpentine, sparkling wine, choirs and other odd traditions, such as washing statues and gathering us together in order to put the student hats on. While reading this, you have already had the chance to experience the May Day, or wappen, vappen, valborg, första maj and vappu – A dear child has many names.
Also the general public knows that students love messing around during the student parties. Sometimes it’s a pity that we are considered as “those extra people who only party and spend our taxes” – as some kind of a remainder. Okay, I know most of you love festivals and celebrations (I can’t deny that either), but seriously: That’s not everything. We have needs from the society that cannot be satisfied by partying.
In Turku/Åbo, the students are trying to affect the city and its decision-makers through, for instance, a group with representatives from all of the universities in our city. We meet the politicians, discuss subjects that matter for the students, write statements and list the students’ demands before elections. I would also like to see the student associations speak out as often as it takes. We are not only students, but also members of the society. This is something the non-students tend to forget at times.
I’ll give you an example. Recently, we have been following the debate on free education. In Finland we don’t, in general, pay tuition fees. Now, the different working groups under our ministries have created different payment models, although every political party seems to be for free education, at least cursorily. The working groups want us to graduate as hastily as possible and start working our asses off so that we could start (forgive me the distasteful expression) paying back for the society.
What the working groups don’t seem to understand is that students have other interests than studying, too. Many of us are already working during the studying time, active in student unions and organizations, engaged in hobbies or collecting valuable experiences in some other way. These interests also benefit the society, even if it may take a bit longer to see it. The studying time is a valuable period when you have the opportunity to grow as a person and get ready for the work – Not a race. By rushing through the studies, we only get stressed and not-well-being workers. Besides, everyone must be given the opportunity to study regardless of their economic background. We have this thing called equality.
We are not merely people who sit at the libraries and read, and that’s why we at times also have to remind these working groups and the others that we won’t accept this kind of treatment. Being a student includes studying, working, hobbies, parties, taking action, affecting the things that matter and, of course, a good time. I really hope you have experienced all this also during this spring!
II vice chairperson
Student Union Parliament