Student associations: “Pandemic exit strategy must include the opinions of students”
“We have been in crisis mode for quite a while. Moving forward from the acute crisis mode back to normality, we need open and participatory decision-making at the University,” says Annamaria Ráduly-Baka, Chair of The Guild of Physics.
Students must have a say in the coronavirus exit strategy. During the past year, the crisis strategy lacked transparency, for instance, there was uncertainty around the re-opening of self-study spaces and other facilities. While taking precautions during a pandemic is understandable, students have not been invited to comment on an exit strategy. It’s time to provide students with transparency and certainty.
“Last fall, if you were left in Otaniemi between two exercise sessions, you weren’t allowed to stay on premises and this was really problematic for those living off-campus", says Francesca Bogani Amadori, Chair of Aalto Media Lab Student Association DADA.
As the national corona restrictions are gradually lifted, physical spaces for group work must be made available quickly. If group working facilities cannot be reopened, other solutions must be considered – such as allocating other facilities that are not currently in use (e.g., empty classrooms). At the very least, courses with heavy emphasis on group work must offer students the opportunity to work together at designated times.
“Aalto University courses are focused on learning together. This aspect of education has suffered, as all peer support has happened online. Some haven’t found any friends to study with, and this shows in both declining well-being and study results. We need to focus on group work again,” says Niko Ylä-Poikelus, Chair of KY - Aalto University Business Students.
Fields where the corona restrictions have made graduation impossible, must be prioritized in the re-opening of the campus. The capacity in courses has been limited and certain courses have been cancelled with short notice. As a result, multiple students have not been able to take the courses they need to graduate. The cancellations have made it impossible or extremely difficult to major in particular subjects, such as sound design or specific tracks in management and international business.
The responsibility of integrating new students who started their studies during the pandemic cannot be laid completely on subject clubs, associations, or guilds — schools must take responsibility, too. Many students who started in 2019 and 2020 have reported that they have few friends and feel a lack of connection to the Aalto community and facilities at the Otaniemi campus.
At the same time, remote learning has also introduced long-awaited flexibility to many courses. Lecture recordings, blended learning, and the possibility to participate remotely have given students more flexibility to planning their studies. We hope these good practices will not be abandoned as schools open up again.
"Before the pandemic, it was completely normal that a student would come on campus and take an exam even when having a cold. Recordings and flexibility in course arrangements can support the health and well-being of everyone within the Aalto community,” says Veera Mäntylä, the Chair of the Guild of Industrial Engineering and Management – Prodeko.
Aalto University must include student representatives at all levels to participate in the process of planning an exit strategy. By working together, we can increase the transparency of decision-making and find more suitable outcomes.
Signed by members of Neuvosto, chairs of student associations at Aalto:
Max Müller, chair of Inkubio
Totti Korpua, chair of KOOMA
Kaisla Soljanto, chair of AK - Guild of Architecture
Henrik Lindberg, chair of PJK – Forest Products Guild
Juan Carlos Guevara Verjel, chair of TOKYO
Oona Sahlman, chair of AMS - Aalto Marketing Society
Heidi Koponen, chair of Aalto Economics
Veera Mäntylä, chair of Prodeko – Guild of Industrial Engineering and Management
Lauri Seutu, chair of KIK – Guild of Mechanical Engineers
Onni Nurkka, chair of MK – Guild of Surveying Engineers
Oskari Järvinen, chair of TiK – Computer Science Guild
Lassi Mäkelä, chair of IK – Guild of Civil Engineers
Juhana Aaltio, chair of Probba
Oona Hanska, chair of Prosessiteekkarit
Aarne Talvela, chair of Athene – Information Networks Guild
Edvard Ohlström, chair of Teknologföreningen
Niko Ylä-Poikelus, chair of KY – Aalto University Business Students
Aaro Lampinen, chair of VK – Guild of Materials and Metallurgy
Hedda-Leena Grip, chair of Aalto MIB
Joakim Saurén, chair of Aalto Accounting
Jesse Hirvelä, chair of Aalto Finance
Hanna Kääriäinen, chair of Chemistry Guild
Annamaria Ráduly-Baka, chair of FK – Guild of Physics
Viktor Teodosin, chair of GRRR
Anselmi Jokinen, chair of Data Guild
Jonna Eloranta, chair of NuDe – Nuoret Designerit
Antti Regelin, chair of AS – Guild of Automation and Systems Technology
Rina Ibragimova, chair of Aallonhuiput
Heidi Riihimäki, chair of Aalto ISM
Johannes Ora, chair of SIK – Guild of Electrical Engineering
Francesca Bogani Amadori, chair of DADA
and Rebecca Adrianzen, chair of Neuvosto
Find out more about the associations represented by their chairs.