The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) is nominating Bachelor of Social Sciences Laura Wathén for the Chair of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and Student of Social Sciences Paula Karhunen as member of SYL’s Board for 2020.
Laura Wathén, 27, is a student of sociology who is acting as the chair of HYY’s Board in 2019. She has several years of experience in leading student organisations and acting as an immediate supervisor.
‘The most important thing for me is to provide experiences of success to the people I lead while conducting important, long-term work. I believe that I am an excellent choice for the chair of SYL, as I am a passionate advocate and an empathetic leader. SYL must be a strong voice towards the decision-makers to ensure a better collective future – not a single student should experience burnout, education should be genuinely possible to everyone and the climate crisis must be stopped. This requires strong cooperation from the entire student movement’, Wathén states.
This year, Wathén has managed to unite a board that is formed, for the first time, out of all HYY’s Representative Council groups and turn it into a close-knit team that works together for the good of students. In 2018, Wathén coordinated the ‘Everything ok?’ influencing campaign that focused on eradicating the stigma related to students’ mental health symptoms.
Paula Karhunen, 23, is a student of politics and communication and in charge of national educational policy, working life and the Student Union’s campus farming on HYY’s 2019 Board. She is also a member of three working groups related to continuous learning at the University of Helsinki. Karhunen has eight years of experience in advocacy work in municipal politics through the youth council and the Green Youth. During her student career, she has promoted students’ status at the University after the Big Wheel reform and actively participated in advocacy work conducted by the student movement.
With SYL’s Board, Karhunen is motivated by national educational policy. She is especially interested in issues related to the accessibility of education, continuous learning and the student admissions reform.
‘Issues that are important to me include defending broad-based education and long-term educational policy. Student admissions must account for the fact that young people should have the possibility to try things out, make mistakes and try again. In continuous learning, on the other hand, taking accessibility and sufficient resources into account is particularly important. Next year, SYL must thus conduct advocacy work that is just as impactful as during the past election year. The 40-million-euro increase in basic funding does not solve everything’, Karhunen states.
‘Both candidates have convinced us with their knowledge and motivation. Wathén is an empathetic listener who has both experience and vision on leadership. Karhunen, on the other hand, is a multi-skilled advocate who works tirelessly to defend accessible and equal education as well as students’ wellbeing’, Vice Chair of HYY’s Board Kukka Louhimies describes the Student Union’s candidates.
SYL will elect its Board for next year in its Congress, held on 15–16 November 2019 in Lahti. SYL looks after students’ interests at the national level, taking a stand on issues related to educational policy, social policy and international affairs. HYY is represented at the Congress by a delegation of 27 students.
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Vice Chair of HYY’s Board
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