The SYL General Assembly this year was held in Finland’s newest university town, Lahti. The few hundred people who took part in the General Assembly gathered on FellmanniCampus in downtown Lahti on 15‒16 November 2019 to decide on policies for the coming year and to vote in the election.
In addition to updating the coming year’s activities, the General Assembly updated the policy paper in regard to education paths, pension issues and access to mental health services. We’re now working towards making free contraception available for all students under 29. The plan of work highlights free and accessible education, student welfare, prevention of climate change and preparation for the SYL 100 years jubilee year in 2021 as the most important goals for the next year.
The General Assembly practices for elections had been updated: the President was chosen already on the first day. In 2020, SYL will be led by 26-year old Tapio Hautamäki from Aalto University. Paula Karhunen (HYY), Johanna Pohjonen (TYY), Paavo Antikainen (TREY), Teemu Virtanen (OYY), Jenni Tuomainen (LYY) and Frans Cederlöf (AYY) were chosen as board members. Read more about the new board at the SYL website.
I returned to the world of the General Assembly after a five year break to be its second chair. I first got to explore the world of the General Assembly between 2007 and 2009, when I was in the student parliament and on the board of my student union. In 2010, I was anticipating whether I would be chosen as SYL President. During the General Assemblies of 2012 through 2014, I was involved as the Secretary General of HYY. My memories of those years are strong, and when the call to be chair came, I did not have to think about it for long. A union girl is always ready!
After a several year break, I felt that the discussion culture and the mutual respect between the people at the General Assembly had improved significantly compared to my years. All speeches received applause, and the way equality was taken into account was exemplary. Everyone was committed to creating a safer space. I was also delighted by how abundant and diverse the political discussion was. Both improving access to mental health services and the current state of the university student media were highlighted during the few hours of conversation. Making friends and meeting people across student union and group lines was also encouraged.
It was particularly touching to listen to SYL’s partners give their greetings. In addition to the thanks for the good cooperation, the current board and office were praised with such beautiful words that even the chair got a little misty-eyed. It feels great that there has been time to establish interorganisational connections and build friendships amidst the tough advocacy work. Once the goals have already been reached, what remains of the years in the student movement are the people. This is why it is important to remember not only the issues, but also to listen to and get to know each other during the General Assembly.
2nd chair of the General Assembly
SYL President 2011