The student union has an impact, you can have an impact too

"It's pretty crazy that those numbers are like that," says Viivi Tigerstedt when hearing statistics from the 2019 parliamentary elections. 

Voter turnout among young people is unfortunately low compared to the national average. Although young people's eagerness to vote has been growing, for example in the last elections the 65-74-year-olds voted most actively (82%), while 54% of the ages 20-25 voted.  

"A large part of our generation growing up has been overshadowed by the pandemic, war and the climate crisis. I recognize the phenomenon, how the climate crisis can cause a general feeling of hopelessness. If the world we inherit has been already broken, why try to fix it? These hard-sounding reels can be found in our age group," Tigerstedt reflects. 

Hope should not be lost and the strongest force for change can be found in our communities. For Tigerstedt, the core idea of ​​democracy is to vote. Everyone has their own responsibility in society to decide how they want to contribute when making decisions that affect everyone. 

"It is important to constantly emphasize that it is not too late to make an impact and that we students have the power. Young people have always had that energy for change. There's a lot we can do when, for example, the media become more diverse, and the toolkit to change the world expands." 

Viivi Tigerstedt studies classical music with accordion as her instrument. The studies also include, for example, business economics of creative fields and studies in pedagogy. Tigerstedt has been elected to lead the board of the University of the Arts student union for the year 2023. The board is decided by the representative council of the student union elected by the students. When voting activity is mentioned in connection with the Student Union of the University of the Arts, the voting percentage of representative elections of 47.68% comes to mind, a number that was the highest in all of Finland. 

"The student union is often asked what the art students would like for this or that." 

You can make an impact from the chairman's benchvoting also by directly meeting people in decision-making positions from the university, labor organizations and politics. 

"Daily life involves answering a lot of different questions," Tigerstedt sums up the chairman's representation work; "The student union is often asked what the art students would like for this or that thing. We do a lot of work together with the board, whose operational work is coordinated by the chairman." 

For Tigerstedt, it is important to strive to enable board members to have such working conditions that they get to do exactly what interests them in a meaningful way. In addition to the board, TaiYo's employees are involved in running the daily life of the student union for art students. 

It has been clear to Tigerstedt which theme has been perceived as particularly important for this year; 

"Students' well-being themes definitely. I try to bring it up in every context. The situation needs solutions."  

The dean's office receives special praise for its cooperation with the student union. Curriculum reform is also underway right now, where the purpose is to pay attention to the perspective of students' well-being in teaching, along with other important development work. 

"Art students are doing unreasonably badly. The level of demand from different perspectives around the school is unreasonably high. I'm not talking so much about making the art itself, but about all kinds of schedule requirements to what kind of dedication is constantly required for each course. No student should be left alone when facing challenges in the education system.” 

An art student has a lot to think about in terms of how to talk about things that touch their everyday life after the elections. 

Cooperation with the university alone is not enough when the student union strives to build a brighter future for its members through its advocacy work. Students' lives are also greatly affected by, for example, who will decide on Finland's future after the elections. In addition to promoting well-being, influencing parliamentary elections has employed TaiYo's office. 

"Remember to vote!", hopes Tigerstedt as the elections are drawing to a close. The last chance to vote is on election day, April 2. 

An art student has a lot to think about in terms of how to talk about things that touch their everyday life after the elections. When talking about the funding of higher education institutions, the education cuts that once hit the University of the Arts very hard are still remembered in the student world. You should pay attention to the discussion about livelihood, because inflation itself weakens a student's basic livelihood. All of this directly affects the students' well-being and coping as well. 

"We need investments in the student's livelihood in order to bring the current situation to a humane balance", Tigerstedt emphasizes, talking about the election themes raised by the entire student movement. 

It is good for those who are employed in the art field to sensitize their ears to how and through whose mouth culture is spoken about. Culture comes up easily in the most common conversations only when asked. As a term, culture is an enormously large entity, the understanding of its social significance is missing from many people's general education. 

"Art and culture can too easily become a separate island for many parliamentary election candidates. If cultural speeches were integrated into everyday political discussion, one big goal would be fulfilled." 


Sources: Statistics Finland 

Text: Suvi Vendelin