Equality analysis of the songbook is completed - work on the new songbook is progressing

The equality analysis of Teekkarilauluja songbook brings up injustice in the singing culture. The recurring male perspective and the role of women only in connection with active males were found to be particularly problematic. The songbook also included violent, homophobic, racist and other discriminatory lyrics. The analysis provides a good starting point for the equality work in Aalto University Student Union and the work of the editorial board of the songbook. Work on the new songbook is progressing.

In the autumn of 2020, Aalto University Student Union had the songbook evaluated by Anna Lemström who has professional and educational background in gender and sexuality issues and experience from songbook reforms. The evaluator is not an expert in anti-racist work by her education or work experience. The analysis aims at reviewing the lyrics extensively from different perspectives of equality.

The purpose of the analysis is to bring up problematic sections and remarks of the lyrics in Teekkarilauluja songbook. In addition, the analysis pays attention to the general atmosphere of the songbook. In addition to clearly problematic songs, it is also important to develop hidden communications that maintain norms in the culture.

“Traditions and humour play key roles in the culture of academic dinner parties. These are both fields where harmful stereotypes often flourish. However, the ultimate purpose of the academic dinner parties is to increase the sense of community. For this to happen, students in a diverse student group must feel safe and relate to the culture”, Lemström writes.

The equality analysis is intended for AYY’s internal use. The editorial board will utilise the analysis and evaluate how the songs and the songbook will be renewed. Below we present the main points of the analysis and the problematic themes that have emerged in the analysis.

Results of the analysis

The most recurring problem is that so many songs have a male perspective. In most of the songs, the man acts as a narrator or has some other active role in the lyrics. Overall, the songbook makes very few references to women when compared to male references, and usually the female references connect the female role to active males.

The equality analysis also brings up songs in which humour is only based on brutal violence or homophobic jokes. The analysis also revealed that the lyrics of certain songs mock religion as well as emphasise and glorify whiteness.

“According to the principle of Punch up , jokes can be made at the expense of others only when taking into account power relations. It is problematic to mock those who are already in a poorer position or discriminated against (punch down). Instead, you can joke about people in powerful positions”, writes Lemström.

More equal singing culture

The Songbook Committee responsible for Teekkarilauluja songbook reviews the problematic sections that emerged in the analysis and changes the content of the songs or deletes the songs from the book if necessary. The diversity of the selected group has been taken into account when recruiting the editorial board. The analysis has also been reviewed with precentors who oversee singing at association parties.

The singing culture includes much more than just the content of the songbook. Traditions and customs are deeply rooted in the community and changing them requires long-term work. In the future, AYY will better consider the diversity of its members and will intervene in all disruptive activities in the singing culture. In March−April, AYY will organise a workshop where equality implementation in the activities of precentors is discussed.

AYY guides and encourages association members to develop their singing cultures in a more open direction. AYY guides and encourages each association to review their own singing culture, the editorial board of the songbook, content of songs, and have the songbooks evaluated by a person outside the association. A comprehensive summary of the analysis is sent to special status associations so that they can utilise the analysis in their own activities. Special status associations represent the students of one or several degree programmes or a specified target group.

Further information:

Eeva Ylimäki, Producer, tel. 050 5209 429

Matias Saikku, Board Member, tel. 040 7037 511

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