Advocacy sector's Wiktoria, Elmo, Vilja and Roosa smiling in front of a view of the sea.

Advocacy sector’s spring

The Student Union of the University of Vaasa’s (VYY) spring was eventful, as per usual. The Student Union board did updates regularly on Instagram Stories, but after an eventful spring, a quick summary is in place. What did the advocacy sector do in the spring?

The Student Union's members of the board and staff are divided into different sectors, and the two main sectors are the community sector and the advocacy sector. The advocacy sector includes the board members responsible for social affairs, campus and municipal affairs, and educational affairs. It also includes the staff member specialist in students’ interests. The chair leads the advocacy sector. 

Elmo Nikula, Chair of the Board

The spring of the advocacy sector has been busy and full of surprises. Our sector has gained some new enthusiasm with the new board members and the new student interest specialist. When writing the board’s plan of action, the advocacy sector decided to focus on students’ rights during distance learning,  municipal elections, equality, and well-being.

The spring semester has been difficult regarding the Covid-19 situation. The situation has not been serious locally during the spring, but the restrictions have been severe and the campus has remained closed. Fortunately, it seems that we might be able to get to the campus in the autumn, so we can put on 

Meetings with stakeholders, such as student associations, other student unions, and the university have kept me busy, as well as taking part in media interviews, advancing VYY's strategy process, recruiting our tutor coordinators, and putting out all kinds of fires on a daily basis.

Four smiling students walking towards the camera wearing student overalls

VYY and the Student Union of Åbo Akademi University launched together the Worlds Happiest Students -campaign. Photo by Sara Alasuutari.


Roosa Kesonen. Campus and Municipal Affairs, Sustainability

Contacts with the City of Vaasa and VOAS have continued closely. We supported the local detailed plan of the Ahventie area, and we also have discussed our participation in the city’s strategy work with the city’s administration for example. 

As a supplementary member of Opiskelijan Vaasa ry (OVVS), I have actively participated in the association’s activities. I was also responsible for organizing municipal election panels. At VYY we have written about important topics for students in the local media. We have also encouraged students to vote by sharing information on municipal elections on our Instagram and blog. 

In regards to campus development, I have supported the student representatives and participated in the implementation of student involvement, workshops, and surveys.

The Committee of Student Interests met three times during the spring. The calculation of VYY's carbon footprint is underway and plans for a more responsible student union have already been made! 

In addition, I have been able to work on the first event of the wonderful The Happiest Student in the World campaign, Together Around the World.


Vilja Tallgren, Educational Affairs

In educational affairs, we have been diligently involved in planning the introduction of the new Peppi study system. In addition to Peppi, the University started to use the feedback system Spark and Atomi, a system that speeds up the graduation process. We have also discussed the introduction of the Tuudo application and the impact the new systems will have on Moodle.

As the feedback system is updated, also the course feedback questions were improved. I was part of a working group that created the new questions and policies and instructions for collecting feedback.

Students have contacted me with their problems, many being about the following topics: the up-to-date course materials, student data privacy, and equity in education and grading. We have taken action on these with teachers, deans, and the university’s management. I have also started a series called “Kopokeskiviikko” (Educational Affairs -Wednesdays) on Instagram, where I have talked about current topics in Educational Affairs. There is also an opportunity to comment or ask about any topics related to Educational Affairs.


Six happy students wearing overalls cheersing to the camera

The Student Union board participated in events hosted by the student organizations within VYY. 


Wiktoria Ripatti, Social Affairs

This spring at social affairs we have been a part of Mikä neuvoksi -project which is assigned to build community and decrease loneliness amongst students. We took part in planning events and recruiting a project assistant. The project has already organized breakfasts for students and we have a lot of other things planned for the future.

We have also been updating our equality declaration. In addition, we have examined the future of our university sports services and the range of vegetarian and vegan food options in our campus restaurants. We were a part of planning and organizing the day of well-being. We also were in contact with Finnish Student Health Service about their reform at the beginning of this year.


Lauri Tuohiniemi, Specialist in Students’ Interests

For myself, spring 2021 has been a time of change, as I jumped to my position at VYY since the start of the year. Even though I have worked quite a while on student advocacy, all my previous experiences are from the other side of our higher education system, with universities of applied sciences, which are rather different from universities.

Since the start of the year, I’ve been facing new experiences time after time as I was not sure of what to expect from the field of protecting student interests and how it differs from my previous experiences. Luckily I noticed that the student advocacy sector has been active and full of commitment. As a specialist in students' interests, this has made my work a lot easier than it could have been.

As a specialist and employee, I’ve been taking part more or less with everything our sector has done during this spring. This time has brought a lot of learning for me as well, as calculating carbon footprint for example has not really been my specialty, but now I know about that area as well. I cannot wait for what this autumn is gonna bring to the table.


Advocacy sector's Wiktoria, Elmo, Vilja and Roosa smiling in front of a view of the sea.

The advocacy sector is here to help you with any problems you might have during your time as a student!