Advocacy is a silent job behind the scenes. It’s like an iceberg. Most of it is invisible below the water surface. Only a small part is visible.
This is especially the case when the entire university community lives in exceptional circumstances. The corona situation has brought many new topics of influence to the student’s advocacy work. Here is a report of a week of your advocacy team in the middle of an emergency.
The work of the advocacy team began on Monday with reviewing the results of METKA’s distance learning survey. The survey had ended the previous week and it was a dazzling success. A total of 708 responses to the survey were received, of which 53 were in English. The responses included a total of 1,553 responses to open questions. Immediately, we decided that METKA would not leave it there! The student’s message must be heard. We will publish the results in the coming weeks and produce a comprehensive report on them. The whole day was spent in that work, except for the common weekly meeting of the office.
Tuesday was a case day. One of the tasks of the student union is to solve the problems that students cafe. There are currently more than a dozen cases open. The toolkit for solving problems includes comments, assistance with rectification processes, and, if necessary, public statements. Part of the work is done in the official boards of Metropolia, to which the student representative of the student union participates as an expert. On Tuesday afternoon, it was the time for another meeting of the Board of Examiners. Its handles cheating and grade adjustments cases.
On Wednesday, your advocacy team focused on influencing the city politics. The student unions in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are currently renewing their joint urban policy program. It outlines objectives for housing, transport and urban planning, among other things. It was agreed at the meeting that a new section on inclusion would be added to the program, as we want to open up new channels of influence for students.
Half the day was spent orienting the student representative of the new Metropolia board. The Metropolia Board is the highest body to which the student union may appoint a student representative. At the same time, it is the most responsible and influential. Hanna Kivimäki, appointed by the Student parliament of Metropolia, will be appointed to this position at the Annual General Meeting to be held next month.
The day began with a meeting of scholarships granting board and the agenda was long. Among other things, the effects of the corona situation on scholarships for tuition fees for students from outside the EU and EEA countries were decided. However, due to the corona, the credits set as a condition of the scholarship may in some cases not be achieved and the required language exams cannot be arranged. So what should be done? The solutions were found and will be communicated to students soon.
The afternoon was then the first moment of the week when the advocacy team was able to focus on working independently for at least a few hours. It is necessary because time is needed to prepare things in advance. The saying “Luck favors the well-prepared” is a particularly good guide to advocacy work. Preparations will be needed, because tomorrow will be busy.
On Friday, METKA’s advocacy team was deeply pleased, as one of our proposals and wishes came true! It became known that degree diplomas will be mailed to students free of charge this spring. Normally postage would cost 35 euros. Thank you to Metropolia for an understanding decision!
More was done on Friday than just smiling with satisfaction. The day began with a meeting of the Legal protection committee, which deals with issues related to the right to study and student selection. Board meetings are subject to strict confidentiality, so no information can be shared. However, the task there is clear: To defend the legal security of the student.
Later in the day, the proposals of METKA and student representatives to make practical training in the social services studies more flexible and secure were prepared in a meeting. Exceptional circumstances have made it difficult to organize practical training and have canceled many already agreed periods. The proposals were prepared together with student associations.
Immediately after the meeting, a new set of rules for the selection of student representatives was revised among the advocacy team. The set of rules is due to be approved by the Student parliament later this spring. However, the work time remained short, as the advocacy team soon disbanded for the next meetings.
The municipal election working group of the World Student Capital association, which organizes co-operation between the student unions of the Helsinki metropolitan area, met and began working on the students’ municipal election goals. At the same time, the second meeting made last moment changes to the distance learning survey for Metropolia students, which opens on Monday. The purpose is to gather accurate information on how the situation caused by the exceptional circumstances has affected the studies. This is a different survey from the above-mentioned METKA survey.
The weekend is a rest period, but team members cannot get completely out of advocacy work. Sunday is a pre-arranged advocacy team social media day during which we will talk about our work. It is an important part of advocacy, because otherwise it will easily stay invisible for the members.
What do you think about student advocacy? Is it necessary? Is the student’s voice used correctly? METKA’s advocacy team listens. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are particularly interested to know if you want to hear more about our work for the good of the students.
Best regard from the METKAs advocacy team:
Nimo Samatar, vice chairperson
Tekla Kosonen, member of the board
Janne Levänen, member of the board
Sakari Tuomisto, advocacy specialist
This post is also available in Suomi.