The new Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu hopes for a communal university

In English  | 

Text Tuuli Heikura

Kuvat Tuuli Heikura

The OYY Executive Board for 2022 came to order during a meeting on January 24. The new Board was chosen during a Council meeting on December 15, 2021. The eight-member Board consists of a colourful bunch of students from different fields with all of them aiming for a common goal for the term: a communal and visible OYY.

The term for the 2022 Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu is coloured by various projects to re-shape the work of OYY – re-branding, renewing the Policy Document, and wellbeing and organisational projects. “Led by these projects, we’ll honour our mission to advocate for a good life for students.”

“The wellbeing project funding received from the Ministry of Education and Culture will allow us to concentrate resources on supporting wellbeing. In particular, the effects of the corona pandemic will most likely be perceptible for a long time, and we hope to do our part in reducing the negative impact with the help of the wellbeing project.

The re-branding mainly aims to enhance communication. The goal of the re-branding is a consistent visual interface that is clearer, more visible and recognisable. Additionally, the website will be improved in order to make the services more visible and to give students easier access to the information. The mandate to renew the Policy Document came from the Council of Representatives. The aim of the renewal is to update the big policies to better match today’s needs.

“We want the next Board to inherit a communal Student Union. Our goal is to further the mindset that you should be proud to be a student at University of Oulu, to help the students have a clear feeling of community, and to strengthen the identity of the student from Oulu.” The motto of OYY is “A good life for students.” This is also the guiding principle for all of the Board’s work; to continuously improve the education and wellbeing of the students.

Under the prevailing corona conditions, the work of the Board is also impacted through uncertain prospects for the future. “It’s quite difficult to predict the future. Concrete execution methods for the ongoing projects are still uncertain, as we don’t know what the situation will be, for example, a few months or half a year from now.” Particularly the development of organisational cooperation and the wellbeing project are still finding their shape regarding the execution.

Students advocating for students

The members of the Board want to emphasise that they’re sitting at this table for the sake of the students. “As clichéd as it sounds, we’re here for you. We think about the students and their benefit in all we do. We wish to efficiently cooperate with the students.” OYY has been criticised for being distant to the students. The Board wishes to change this. Previous Boards have had the same goal. “We must improve in emphasising the purpose of OYY and the significance of the Board as advocates for the students”, says Chairperson Lotta Leinonen.

Iikka Kokkoniemi adds that although many of the members have moved on from subject society work to a different organisation, he hopes that they will still be regarded as easy to approach. “I’m still the same person and a student, just like everyone else.” Reform of organisational cooperation is also hoped to improve the situation. “Closer cooperation helps bring the OYY Board closer to guilds and interest societies”, mentions Viljami Viinikka who works in the society sector.

The Board has already faced criticism after publishing a statement on January 27, 2022, aiming to appeal to decision-makers, calling for forward-looking decisions. In the statement, the OYY Board suggests that in the long run, new construction is the more sustainable and cost-efficient solution, in comparison to renovating the Linnanmaa campus. However, the statement has been interpreted as a sign of support for the city campus project, which has evoked lots of negative conversations amongst students that oppose the project.

The aim of the statement was to introduce a new perspective to accompany previous statements. “We wanted to emphasise the students’ need to study in a healthy and safe environment”, comments the Chairperson of the OYY Board Lotta Leinonen and the 2. Vice Chair Suvi-Anna Salminen. Leinonen acknowledges that bold advocacy work can put you in a vulnerable position. However, she emphasises that conversations should have room for open discussion and varying viewpoints, and everyone should be respected.

Lotta Leinonen, Business studies / Chair of the Board

Why did you apply for Board membership?

When I was thinking about where to find new challenges and to utilise my previous experience from subject society level, OYY seemed interesting. I noticed that the matters dealt with there are relevant to my interests. It also gives me valuable experience in organisational Board work.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To improve the visibility of OYY, to students and other interest groups, so that we can be a partner that’s seen and heard by everybody. I want to take advantage of the platforms given to me and continue OYY’s long-standing work.

Previous activities

2016-2017 Chair of The Board of the upper secondary school student body, Youth Council

2019 > Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2019 Finanssi ry, Academic Affairs Committee

2020 > Halloped

2020 Finanssi ry, Member of The Board, Specialist in Academic Affairs

2021 Finanssi ry, The Chairman of The Board, Vice Chair of the Student Associations’ Chairpersons’ Network of The Finnish Business School Graduates

Viljami Viinikka, Chemistry / 1. Vice Chair of the Board, Societies

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’ve been running around in different meetings and places of advocacy since I was little, so the work feels natural – this is sort of a natural continuation for an organisational career.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

Through organisations, I want to bring OYY closer to the students and make the advocacy that happens behind the scenes more transparent. One of my projects is reforming the Järjestökummi-activity. I also aim to increase the involvement of Kontinkangas campus.

Previous activities

2013-2014 The Board of the upper secondary school student body

2015 The Board of 4H Lumijoki, Vice Chair

2018 Valenssi ry

2020 OLuT ry, Chair of The Board

2021 Mölkky- ja kyykkäseura, Vice Chair and person in charge of competitions

Suvi-Anna Salminen, Finnish language / 2. Vice Chair of the Board, Communications

Why did you apply for Board membership?

Throughout my studies, the Student Union has felt close to me. I wanted to be able to do advocacy work on a wider scale. I also gain valuable experience in organisational communication and self-improvement from the point of view of, both, advocacy and professional work.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To improve my own know-how in communication and to learn about organisational work and advocacy. Re-branding will be an important part of my year in the Board and I wish to complete it properly and thus strengthen OYY’s position and visibility amongst student services.

Previous activities

2015 Chair of The Board of the upper secondary school student body

2019-2020 Suma ry, secretary

2020-2021 Suma ry, the Board, Specialist in Academic Affairs, Specialist in Social Affairs

2022 Member of the Council of Representatives

Tiitu-Lotta Paju, Process engineering / Events

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I wanted new experiences and to continue advocacy work. I was motivated to apply by the desire to have students of technology involved in Student Union decision-making.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

My goal is to create interesting, relevant events for students and make OYY more visible for the university community through them.

Previous activities

2017-2020 Youth Committee of The Finnish Red Cross

2019 > Oulun yliopiston Prosessikilta ry (Guild for process engineering)

2019 Technical Students Association Oulu

2021 Technical Students Association Oulu, secretary and member of the Board

Iikka Kokkoniemi, Teacher of Mathematical Subjects / Social affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’ve been a deputy member in the Representative Council for two years, but I felt like I didn’t have enough know-how or courage to work in the Board. Participating in the Board meeting of the National Union of University Students in Finland gave me my first experience of being able to make a difference and bring forth my own viewpoint despite not having much knowledge.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

As clichéd as it sounds, I want to grow as a person and expand my own knowledge to prepare myself for work life, and to have a deeper understanding of things.

Previous activities

2019 Sigma ry, spokesman

2020 The Board of OLuT ry, secretary

2020 LuOpiO ry, treasurer

2019-2020 Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2020-2021 Science Students, group leader

2020 OYY Representative, SYL Congress

2021 Ohari ry, Specialist in Social Affairs

2021 Lapio ry reformation, secretary and relations

2021 OLuT ry, event coordinator

Lotta Ellonen, Education / Academic affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’m interested in advocating for all students, and OYY gives me experience in that. I have previously worked in organisations that have only recently been formed, so OYY provides a good counterbalance to that. It also helps me gain good experience in working in a larger organisation.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To focus on academic affairs because I want to learn about the way the university makes decisions. A big project will be renewing the Policy Document. I also aim to develop the university’s internal peer supported academic affairs activity, so that high quality academic affairs activity is also accessible on a subject society level.

Previous activities

2017-2018 Motiva ry, events, new student orientation and photography

2019 Umbrella Guild Kaski, communications and advocacy

2019 Motiva ry, Treasurer, SKOL coordinator, GDPR coordinator

2019 Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2020 Oulu Entrepreneurship Society, secretary and community

2020-2022 SKOL coordinator, EPALE ambassador

2020-2021 Member of the Council of Representatives

Arwa Benkherouf, Architecture / International affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

It has always been my dream to be in a position of influence and leadership. It doesn’t really matter where as long as I get to influence and further change. I am primarily interested in Student Services, where I can provide direct help and support to students. Working for the board is a great possibility to fulfil this dream and to develop my leadership skills.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

I want to develop my leadership and negotiation skills, while giving back to the student community that has accepted me to be a part of it and showed me, what student life is.

Previous activities

2020 Halloped, students’ wellbeing working group and equality and diversity committees

2020-2021 Kummi activity

2020 Self-Hack, facilitator

Essi Leinonen, Health Sciences / Wellbeing

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I have previous experience on student body and school advocacy levels, so I was aware of the demands and gains of board work. My decision was also impacted by the desire to make the Kontinkangas campus side more visible in the Board.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

The most important thing for me is to bring the students’ wellbeing to the centre, to advance the production of high quality services and opportunities to take care of the wellbeing of myself and the community through, both, local and national advocacy work. Personally, I want to grow as a person.

Previous activities

2015-2016 OSASTO ry, Specialist in International Affairs, secretary, events, tutoring

2016 OSAKO Council of Representatives

2017 OSAKO Chair of the Board

2018 OSAKO Council of Representatives, Vice Chair

Published 11.3.2022

Tuuli Heikura

Oulun ylioppilaslehden päätoimittaja ja kauppatieteiden maisteriopiskelija, joka nauttii kahvintuoksuisista hitaista aamuista, kuluttaa lenkkipolkuja kahden koiransa kanssa ja haaveilee salaa henkirikostutkijan urasta. Tyhjentää kierroksilla käyvät aivonsa siivoamalla ja piirtämällä.

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