Did you know that there is an election this autumn? We will be voting on who will speak for the students of the University of Turku for the next two years in the Student Union Council, which is TYY's supreme decision-making authority.
The Council (edustajisto, "edari") is a group of 41 student members, who are colloquially referred to as "edators" (edaattori). The Council meets approximately once a month to decide on guidelines for TYY's operations and finances. The Council also consists of smaller groups that gather around specific themes. Council groups can base their identity on being students of a particular discipline, having certain political positions, or on other themes that they consider important.
Would I be a good Council member? That is a question that also ran through my head in 2019, when I first became a candidate in the Student Union Council election. Will it do any harm if I express my willingness to make a difference, learn new things, get to know people, and promote topics that are important to me? In the midst of all these thoughts I also wondered what it takes to be a candidate; do I need to have some pompous election promises or a big campaign? Or should a Council member be able to give fluent speeches and understand the current situation of student politics? In reality, there's nothing that you need to know from the get-go, and the campaign and its size can always be tailored to the candidate. The most important thing is that the candidate has motivation, interest and willingness to join the Council.
My biggest motive at the time was that I wanted the voice of my own background community to be heard in decision-making. By doing influencing work at TYY, I eventually learned a huge number of new skills that I can use in the future, for example in my career or in politics. I also made a lot of new friends from different faculties and got a diverse array of new ideas from conversations that we had while improving the world.
People apply for the Student Union Council for a variety of reasons. You may want to promote certain values, have a general interest in decision-making, wish to represent your own background community, or have the desire to delve deeper into politics or the administration of the university community and to learn more about these issues. By participating in committees, a Council member also gets to dig deeper into many specific themes, such as organisation grants, the Turku Student Magazine or the finances of the Student Union. In short, being a Council member teaches you influencing skills, organisational skills and social skills. Of course, every Council member gets slightly different things out of their years on the Council, and that is why it's a good idea to talk to ex-members and ask them what was the best thing about being on the Student Union Council.
When I got involved with TYY, one of the very first things I was told was that “it looks more official than it is”. I now understand what that means. If you go on YouTube to watch the recordings of the Council meetings, you may get a very limited idea of the Council's activities. At Council meetings, 41 Council members and members of the Executive Board address the Chairperson with dignity and sometimes have quite heated debates. In reality, this is only a small part of the Council's activities (although it is one of the best parts). The decision-making is often supported by group discussions, committee meetings and many other events. You can give the Council just as much of your time as is suitable for you.
Being a Council member is a worthwhile endeavour, and I really think that it's worth the time investment! The Student Union Council has given me new friends and taken me out of the bubble of my own faculty. It was very exciting to discuss common topics with the other Council members, and hearing opinions from students of other disciplines really expanded my worldview. Your Council buddies can also give you tips on what minor subjects to take, and many have even found a relationship through the Council.
I recommend getting involved with the Student Union Council if you have ideas about what student life at the University of Turku should look like and you like to exchange ideas with others. I encourage everyone to run in the election and also to spread the word to others who you would like to see representing students for the next two years. The Student Union Council needs a diverse group to represent all the students at our university!
Chairperson of the Central Election Committee, Student Union of the University of Turku
The Central Election Committee organises the Student Union Council election in the autumn of 2023.