Dear friends, guests, dear Aalto people
Often serene, adaptable, cooperative, eager and quick to learn. May, however, occasionally be clinging, defiant and need special attention and support in new challenges. Wants to be big and independent at times, and at times just wants to cuddle up to you. This is how the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare describes a nine-year-old child, but I think this description could also very well be used for our nine-year-old Student Union.
In nine years, the new University has got its walls up and found its place in society. The name of Aalto University is known and familiar around Finland and the world. You could also think that this is somehow the end of the beginning, as we are no longer the youngest student union but have been succeeded by two new ones, the University of the Arts Student Union and the Student Union of Tampere University.
By Aalto’s side, we have had a good place to grow and put up our own walls, and along the years, plenty of the best student’s life in the world has already been seen within these walls. For the first time ever, all Aalto students – apart from those in Mikkeli – have spent this academic year on the same campus. In the interviews given around the First of May, many reporters were asking how this has manifested itself in Otaniemi. I think the shared campus has already given us a great deal: encounters with new people, new courses, new thoughts. We have got closer to one another, which has brought a great deal more life and energy into the Aalto community.
It is good to keep in mind, however, that in the minds of many students, the move is still incomplete. Many things are being worked on, and people are getting used to the new facilities. But this is also something we as a community can help with. Let’s be open. Let’s get used to new things. Let’s give feedback. Let’s wonder and be surprised. And let’s also learn to tolerate occasional uncertainty and to work outside our own comfort zone.
When forming the Board last autumn, I was in a really privileged position. The Board received applications from 22 extremely qualified people from different Schools and backgrounds. In my mind, this means that over the years, AYY has managed to grow more and more into the Student Union of all Aalto people. I hope that this is the way we are heading. That each year, also more and more Arts and Design or Chemical Technology students, international or Swedish-language students and KY people feel that AYY works for them. I would hope for the number of applicants to the Board and AYY’s volunteer activities to grow and diversify even further. This way, the gang working from the office would represent the whole community even better. What is key is that our Student Union’s operations are guided, stage by stage, to line up with the principles that were decided in the community structures project.
I find the Tempaus project of 2016 a great example of how working together can create stories and legends and weld the community together. I would like to think that for a long time to come, stories will be told of how Aalto students spent a couple of days visiting 1500 schools to motivate pupils to learn. It is not necessary to always pull a stunt, but this is a good reminder of how acting together makes us more powerful and gets our voice heard even outside the campus area and the Finnish borders.
Having influence also means having responsibility. We must take even more responsibility for ourselves and the world around us. At AYY, environmental themes have been taken seriously and incorporated into the operations, and we will surely be cooperating on them with Aalto, Espoo and our other partners alike. If we are unable to solve the challenges related to climate change and the collapse of biodiversity, there will be a lot less to celebrate at the Annual Balls of future generations.
Dear Aalto people,
There is a vast number of people sitting in this hall who have been involved with the production of various great things. There is no need to explain the Student Union’s administration or the principles of event organising to you. You know how much work it takes to successfully put on an Annual Ball week or a dinner party for a few hundred heads. Or to successfully lobby that small but oh-so-important word into the University’s strategy. Or for that statue there by the Market Square to get her student cap. These kinds of huge efforts – or any accomplishments of a smaller scale, for that matter – would not be possible without you, the amazing operators of AYY. Here are some thanks:
Firstly, the responsible, enthusiastic and quickly-learning volunteers. Without you, AYY’s event field would be very empty, and we would not be in the know of what goes on in various organisations or university working groups. Thank you for taking the students’ voice to all corners of our community. You make the students visible. Thank you to student representatives in administration, to the sections, the Teekkari Section, Aava, Campus Section, Edujory, Museum Section, 10-year Anniversary Section, as well as the committees, all together and individually, and to our producers Niina and Anu, who are keeping everything in hand and creating the foundations for all this amazingness to come true.
In this community, only change is permanent. For example, more than 20 people were recruited at AYY last year. This nine-year-old’s serenity, adaptability and cooperative skills are guaranteed by our diamond team of specialists. Thank you for your fantastic work. Thank you for adjusting to change and for being there to support the Board and the whole office. It would be impossible to function without you.
May, however, occasionally be clinging, defiant and need special attention and support in new challenges. Thus, behind all this visible work, there is a large support team and people who create the framework for all this. They plan which data system enables our operations best. How much money do the different activities take? How do the processes work? … and so on.
One of these people, the pillar of all pillars, is here celebrating with us today. AYY’s first Financial Director Reija had her last working day yesterday. And so, I cannot resist taking this opportunity to thank you one more time. Thank you, Reija, for giving us your iron professionalism! Thanks to you, our nine-year-old knows a lot more than most others.
You may have seen Reija with these big, black notebooks. Reija went and revealed at the eleventh hour that they contain records of all the juicy secrets and incidents from years past. Apparently, they cannot be made public yet, what with Reija herself not remembering everything she has written in there. But she promised that they are all now being moved to the summer house for a preliminary inspection. And even though Reija is not very much driven by deadlines, maybe one will come in handy with this. Reija, I’m expecting a presentation of the best bits for next year’s party.
For me, the Aalto community has been offering the best student’s life in the world for many years now. It has contained successes, world-widening conversations and amazing people who have been great to work and improve the world with. It has provided an arena for growing as a person and for seeing that all kinds of people have a place in this world and this community.
As the MLL description said, sometimes a nine-year-old just wants to cuddle up. The way I see it is that sometimes, what is already there is good enough and that new inventions are not always needed. On the other hand, a nine-year-old wants to be big and independent. So, let’s keep an open mind, let’s be flexible and playful and let’s make the most influential new openings in the world. We can mature, but let’s not grow up, at least not yet.
Our nine-year-old is already fairly independent, but it needs a big group of people for support, backing, inspiration, visibility. This hall is full of such people. We can all help AYY grow into a ten-year-old and turn its gaze into a bright future.
Congratulations AYY of 9 years.