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The Student Union of the University of Helsinki has appointed Master of Social Sciences, Student of Environmental Sciences Ansku Holstila as its municipal election coordinator. Holstila starts in the fixed-term position on 24 January and is set to continue until 24 May 2017.

Holstila has previously worked as a campaign coordinator in campaigns such as the Coal-Free Finland campaign as well as been involved in the communications and coordination of several climate campaigns.

The tasks of the municipal election coordinator include organising campaign events, producing and acquiring communication material related to the elections and promoting the municipal election objectives of the World Student Capital network, particularly in Helsinki. When seeking the municipal election coordinator, HYY emphasised skills related to urban advocacy work and communication skills.

HYY’s main objective in the municipal elections of spring 2017 is to expedite the realisation of the Science Tram so that its construction work begins by 2025. The Science Tram would connect 40% of the higher education students in the Capital Region and its sphere of influence contains as many as 100,000 jobs.

‘International students and staff make our future! Why? They are such a central group when it comes to influencing our competitive position compared to other international universities. We cannot afford not to use them. Attitude is all it takes in the end, even among us language enthusiasts: just forget any unnecessary fears and use your language skills!’
– Ulla Tuomarla, Head of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Helsinki.

International students are an important part of our university community. The fact that the administrative languages of the University are Finnish and Swedish cannot be allowed to prevent international students, teachers and other staff members from participating in our common affairs.

Creating equal opportunities for international students and staff members to participate in decision-making is a challenge for all of us. At HYY, we have made an effort this year to improve their opportunities to participate and in this way integrate into our community. However, there is still a lot to do.

This is why we want to encourage and challenge the rest of our community both to participate in the effort and to offer concrete solutions that would help us increase and improve the involvement of international students and staff in the creation of an equal university community. This really only requires small acts, but even a small act from a Finnish-speaking person may be huge for a non-Finnish-speaking member of our community.

It is important that every member of the University community, from students to professors, has the opportunity to influence decision-making at the University regardless of their language. HYY has compiled some instructions on how international students and staff members who do not necessarily speak either Finnish or Swedish can be included as a part of the University community in administration, too!

"International students at the University of Helsinki are interested in participating in University administration and governance, but real integration of international students will require outreach from the administration. If programs are interested in international students participating in administration, they need to be less reluctant to communicate and hold meetings in English."
- Lea Urpa, Doctoral Student, Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM)