The best time for student advocates

It will be but a few moments until we walk into the FellmanniCampus auditorium in Lahti and decide which direction the university student movement will be taking next year. A few moments until we know who will take the union to the 2020s.

General Assembly is the place to change the world. This is the attitude I had when participating in my first General Assembly for the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) in the autumn of 2017. It was empowering: striving for good things was not only something my own student union did, but something that was done all over Finland. The room had around three hundred advocates with a vision for a better tomorrow for students, and the ability and drive to take concrete steps to achieve it.

It has been two years since, and I still believe that the route to making the world a better place is through the General Assembly. It guides the actions of a very influential organisation, decides where resources should be allocated, and chooses who will be the voice of the university student movement for the next year. This is why it is worth investing in. 

The more prepared you are upon arrival, the better chance you have of making a difference yourself. So make sure to carefully read the materials for the General Assembly and get to know the candidates in advance. Concentrate on the big picture and the wider thinking, think about what is truly essential. As a general tip, it is not the placement of the comma, but the focus of the plan of work or the position expressed in the policy paper.

I am hoping for a General Assembly where the discussion is open but respectful. The General Assembly is meant to be a safe space for each and every participant. Harassment, discrimination or any other form of inappropriate behaviour or language will not be tolerated. Let us make sure that everyone feels at home at the General Assembly. If and when we want to see changes in society, regarding this matter or any other, we have to start with our own behaviour. You will get far simply by reading the Safer Space Policy for the General Assembly and acting accordingly.

There are outstanding candidates running for positions of trust within the union. Remember that you can announce your candidacy up to the point when the matter is discussed in the General Assembly. Putting oneself on the line and pursuing one’s dream takes courage. Let us give the candidates the support and appreciation they deserve and make sure that the candidacy is a pleasant experience regardless of the election result. We are sure that we will find an excellent board amongst the group of candidates to lead SYL into the next decade.

At its best, the General Assembly is a place for everyone to experience being able to make a difference, to get enthused by political speeches, and to be inspired by the other attendees. To feel that we are stronger together than alone, even if we do not agree on all things. 

After all, the General Assembly is the best time of our lives and meeting techniques make everything more enjoyable.

See you in Lahti!


Sanni Lehtinen

President of the board

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