The strength of the Aalto community are the people from many different backgrounds

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Student communities have always been important to me, and they have a big significance in students’ lives. They have been places where you can grow as a person, learn new things and get to know new people, as well as experience a unique sense of togetherness. During this autumn, I have had a chance to get to know the Aalto community in connection with the community structures project. I have immersed myself in how this community has been formed, what kinds of structures are currently holding it together and, above all, what kinds of people make the Aalto community just as unique as it is. It has been a great joy and honour to meet members of the Aalto community, learn new things from them and spend the entire autumn doing important work among this community.

I have encountered dozens of volunteers, association operators, Representative Council members and alumni and heard a lot about how important and unique the Aalto community is and how much it means to people. At the same time, I have also heard about the challenges experienced in the community, which are hoped to be resolved by way of the community structures project. Based on the surveys, interviews and discussions I have conducted, the biggest challenges are seen to be the experiences of inequality in the community, the illogicalities related to the volunteer field’s structure and the inadequacy of the association classification.

My goal has been to have as many community members as possible participate in the project, and during the autumn, I have been pleasantly surprised by people’s courage to speak out loud about difficult subject matter, too, about prejudices as well as experiences of inequality. I am especially thankful for people daring to discuss different matters constructively and honestly at various events.

I find the Aalto community unique as it brings together different kinds of student cultures, each of which has its own fine traditions and important events. When talking with members of the community, I have noticed that many do not have enough information on the others’ cultures, yet everyone is eager to get to know other people and cultures. There is a simultaneous wish to both create a common culture and to hang on to and showcase the unique features of their own culture, but perhaps there are not yet enough places that genuinely bring together different cultures and people.

Next spring is a special time for the Aalto community, as this is when also the Master’s-level students of Economics are moving to the same campus in Otaniemi. After that, there will only be Aalto University students studying on the Otaniemi and Mikkeli campuses. A large common campus for the majority of students and the resolutions from the community structures project will shape the community to make it even more unified. The project has progressed at a gallop through the autumn, but there is still much to do, which is why my work among the community structures will continue into the spring.

The undeniable strength of the Aalto community are the people from many different backgrounds who want to have their unique input into creating the Aalto community. People who want to actively develop their own community are constantly coming up with new ideas and taking action to accomplish them. I am excited about being able to continue this project with such people and to be part of developing this community.

Text: Elina Nieminen

Elina Nieminen. Kuva: Aino Korpinen

You can read about the project’s progress so far in here: (https://inside.ayy.fi/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=40468584&preview=/40468584/40468656/2018_11_L13_EN_ratkaisuvaihtoehdot_taustamuistio.pdf )

 

The goal of the community structures project is to discover via surveys, interviews and discussions how the cooperation of the Student Union and the associations within it and the structures of the Aalto community could be developed in a way that would result in an even more unified student community in which the students of the different schools will be taken into account as equals better than before. The community structures project started at the beginning of August and continues into the spring.

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