Representative Council Election 2020

Edarivaaleista suomeksi täällä!

Results are in and I’ll be part of my representative council group as deputy member for the next two year term!

Hello everyone! I’m Taavi Heikkilä, a theoretical physics (or astronomy, wish I’d know myself) student from Kumpula campus, and a keen organisations and student union enthusiast. I’m now running for the Representative Council of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki. My number in this election is 311. This year I have the privilege to sit in the board of the Student Union but everything has it end so I’m more than willing to comtinue my work for a better uni (and society) in the representative council.  I also sit in the boards of the Left Students (a nationwide leftist student organization),  Matlu ry (the faculty organisation of the Faculty of Science) and Meridiaani ry (the student organisation of astronomy students). Alongside these sit in various administrative organs of the Uni.

The Student Union of my dreams is a bold influencer both in the fields of education policy and university democracy and also in ecological an social sustainability, without forgetting equality. If the Union doesn’t raise the students’ voice at the Uni, in Helsinki or in the broader society then who does? The Student Union of my dreams is a community everyone can happily belong to and that can make students’ lives easier by the services it provides.

University democracy 2.0

The self governing university is generally speaking a democratic community but is the possibility to apply for becoming a student representative in a governing organ the highest form of democracy? What if not understanging finnish (or swedish) would not be and obstacle in participating the administration? What if alongside tripartite (professors, other emplyees and students) decicion making direct democracy could also play a role?

  • All the decisions of all the official admininistrative organs of the uni should be accessable alse in English. Partisipating in these organs should also be possible  in English.
  • New forms of direct democracy should be piloted in the administration of the uni. The governence in general should be more bottom up in stead of from top to bottom.
  • Teaching should be democratized: the practicalities of the course, when weekly submissions are due etc., shoud be made by the participants by default.

Services and advocacy at the heart of operations

I see serving the members of the Student Union as triangle: directly serving the members, serving the members by advocacy and serving the members by taking care of operational preconditions of different student organisations. Services and advocacy are usually thought as quite different areas but I find in useful to think about them alongside.

  • The direct services, i.e. UniCafe restaurants or legal assistance, should be in a level that every member can feel having a good run for one’s membership fee. Existence of the services is not enough the existence should also be communicated.
  • Advocacy is arguably the most important and comprehensive way of serving the members.  To make successful advocacy the resources in staff and other expenditure should be adequate.
  • Taking care of operational preconditions of different student organisations is a form of indirectly serving the members. This happens by granting some money directly but more importantly by offering them premises in the good locations. As the economic situation of the Student Union improves offering new spaces, especially in currently underserviced campuses, is only natural.

Student advocacy in the city level

Many things relevant to students’ life, from student discounts in the public transport to how many student housing units are planned each year, are decided in the tables of municipal politics. If the students want more affordable housing,  better public transport and more sustainable city growth it makes sense to demand these things together. The upcoming municipal election of 2021 is an influencing opportunity that must not be missed!

  • Advocacy on the upcoming election is vital. This must include taking action both in the election as it’s happening but also in the field of networking and lobbying when the new city council come to order.
  • Alongside advocacy the Student Union can also do a lot by itself: the students have 150 year long history as property developers of sort in the city. The current building projects under construction by Ylva (the business side of the Student Union) can also show the way  to others what comes to ecologically and socially sustainable building construction.
  • The flexible daycare service Little HYY could be more optimally organized by the city of Helsinki. The city does not currently have the same service as the Student Union now offers but it’s more realistic to expand the servicer to other campuses if provided by the city that is already a big service provider in the field of public daycare.