AYY works for a non-discriminatory and safe Aalto community

An Instagram story published by blogger Natalia Salmela last weekend received a huge amount of comments about experiences of hostile traditions and activities in tech student culture. AYY's goal is to eradicate all discriminatory activities and traditions from the Aalto community.
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Aalto University's student union wants associations’ activities and student culture to be inclusive, accessible and equal. Together with the university and on its own, AYY trains association actors on equality. For example, on Tuesday 1 December there will be an association training for all next year's association board members and one of the topics will be equality and accessibility. A couple of times a year, together with the Aalto provost, study psychologists and Aalto priests, we organize trainings on equality for association members.

AYY is currently developing principles for event safety and a safer space for its own actors. We also distribute and train association members about them. AYY supports the associations financially and the distribution of the operating grant is influenced by how committed the association is to equality. AYY also plans training for volunteers on how to deal with harassment.

Aalto associations are generally interested in strengthening equality in their activities. Indeed, many have requested harassment contact person training and developed an equality plan or guidelines for tackling harassment. AYY also has harassment contact persons who support those who have experienced harassment. Of the clubs that choose their own members, only one does so solely on the basis of gender, choosing women as members. Clubs that choose their members do not receive AYY's operating grant, and there will be a discussion about the visibility they receive at AYY's events.

AYY's goal is to eradicate hostile and other discriminatory traditions from the Aalto community. In the summer, the discussion was sparked by the racist slur that still appeared in the Teekkarilaulu book, which was removed from the new editions and the existing editions were put on sale. The Teekkarilaulu songbook has been evaluated by an external reviewer, who has highlighted as a problem the rich sexism of the lyrics of the songs. It is from this perspective that the latest edition will be scrutinized. AYY will also discuss sexist lyrics with associations’ board members. Changing problematic culture and attitudes does not happen in an instant but requires long-term work.

Work against discriminatory traditions is still ongoing, but the conditions are good. AYY welcomes the fact that the topic is being discussed, as it spreads awareness of the issue. At the same time, we sincerely regret any discriminatory comment, situation, song or tradition our members have encountered. There is no place for any kind of discrimination or harassment in the Aalto community.

Further information:

Olli Kesseli, AYY's Chair of the Board, +358 40 688 7711, [email protected]

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