Student associations: “Pandemic exit strategy must include the opinions of students”

For the last year CMT (Crisis Management Team) has made the important decisions regarding Aalto University's daily activities. Neuvosto, a committee of chairs of associations at Aalto, wrote a statement about taking students' perspectives and transparency back into decision making.
Students with protest signs

“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. 

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