Student, your vote matters!
When the municipal elections were postponed to June 13th, a lot of people thought that the decision was extremely radical. I’m not saying whether the decision was right or wrong, but we as a student union are worried about how this postponement might affect the voting activity of students in Vaasa. Statistics already state that young people are not eager to vote and the end of the semester means summer jobs and the possibility of moving away from Vaasa or the city you are eligible to vote.
Advance voting however is fast and easy, and you can do it anywhere in Finland. My own voting experiences are really not that exciting. Have always voted by chance, when I have encountered a polling station in a shopping mall or other area I’ve been around. During the pandemic, moving around town has decreased quite a lot, but advance voting lasts for a few weeks so many people will be able to encounter and notice a chance to fulfill their duty – all it takes is to keep your eyes open.
The city council's decisions affect your everyday
Why is voting important? Why should a student, who is not going to spend more than a few years in Vaasa, care about the future of his current hometown? What kind of decisions is the city council making so that it would actually affect the students? To the first two questions, everyone has their own answers but I’ll try to give a few examples to the last question.
No matter where in Vaasa you live, city council decisions can be seen from the window as you can see what kind of area you are living in since the town planning is done by the city council. Our roads are also built with taxes and when you make the first cup of coffee in the morning, the electricity comes from the electricity grid owned by the city. The city council has a concrete effect on how enjoyable living in Vaasa really is.
After the morning coffee, you’ll decide to come to Campus. Is there a bus going near your apartment? Does the city have good paths for cycling? These kinds of things surely affect almost every student living and moving in Vaasa. If you have your own car, you surely would like to have functional traffic and trust that snow is not a problem during winter.
The education and culture departments are responsible for daycare and elementary schools as well as high schools. Universities are responsible for their own actions, but the city of Vaasa can be seen on campus as well. For example, the city owns 84% of the Vaasa university of applied sciences and a big part of the infrastructure around campus. This means that if the city council is student-friendly, it can also result in a more lively and enjoyable campus.
Sports and exercise are a good way to spend your free time between studies and work. Students are also able to enjoy the city’s swimming halls, ski tracks, and skating rinks. When you come home from the campus and want to do some exercise, there are many sports opportunities for the city to offer.
Besides sports, culture is also an excellent way to spend your free time. The city libraries can be useful for students and how they serve and operate is decided by the city council. Theaters and museums bring joy to the rat race but the city also organizes a lot of cultural events and grants permissions for student events organized at city premises like Hovioikeudenpuisto.
The city council’s decisions can also affect the businesses of the town and this can again affect the enjoyability of Vaasa. Where are the ice cream stands located for example or do restaurants have permission to build larger terraces during summer? The city owns a lot of land and the rental rate and tax percentages of these lands can directly affect the pricing of local businesses.
As you can see, the city council can have quite a concrete effect on our everyday life. Even though decisions often seem to be behind a lot of bureaucracy and cannot be seen in action for a small period of time, your vote still has a large meaning to the candidate and the political party you are voting for. Even if politics seems exhausting and distant, filling a voting compass and choosing a candidate is always a better option than not voting at all.
The chair of the board of the Student Union of the University of Vaasa