Long rows of black jackets, Movember moustaches and Macbooks. The negotiators running with their briefcases from one secret meeting room to another, and the interviewers throwing bananas at the candidates. Forty-eight hours without sleep in a simulator which resembles a ship to Sweden. The General Assembly is a time to enjoy yourself.
Everyone has probably heard at least one cliché about the General Assembly of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) even though they may never have participated in the event. Although the piles of agendas have been replaced by laptops, some participants have the courage to wear a hooded jacket instead of a jacket and the election of the board no longer resembles a strategy meeting for the Italian Mafia, you know that something important is happening here. And so it is: we define the direction of the university student movement for 2018.
The General Assembly is the most important place for our organisation to make decisions. The assembly elects a new president and a new board and approves documents for activities and economy in 2018. The member organisations, in other words, the student unions participate in the meeting as delegations, and the number of representatives is determined in relation to the number of members in the student union. This year the General Assembly will held be at the University of Tampere, and 133 representatives from 14 student unions will participate in the event.
The role of the present Board is to present and prepare the documents. We let them know how we believe they should continue the work we have carried out this year, but the final decisions are made by the General Assembly representatives. This year the Board has suggested four projects as the Plan of Work for 2018. These projects deal with the parliamentary election advocacy work, Finland’s EU Presidency, the transformation of work and the future of development cooperation. We believe that with the help of these projects SYL can direct its activities according to the political environment and become an even better expert.
SYL’s General Assembly includes not only traditions, jackets and avoiding the most worn-out clichés but also excitement and sadness. If you promise not to tell anyone, I admit that I was moved once this autumn when I realised that the year as President of this movement is almost over. I am sure that everyone will have emotional moments in the meeting, but on the other hand, it is inspiring: New, energetic hands will steer this ship in the direction they believe to be the right one. Let’s hope that this direction is towards a stronger and more united university student movement.