Politics belong at the university!

The aftermatch of the “Parade of Politics” baffled Jukka Gustafsson, Minister of Education.

Timo Kontio of Social Democratic Students wishes Minister of Education Jukka Gustafsson welcome at the university

Timo Kontio of Social Democratic Students wishes Minister of Education Jukka Gustafsson welcome at the university.

It is the university’s task to rear critical academic citizens, and political organisations must be allowed to act equally at the university. The audience was in rare unanimous agreement on this at the briefing on the “Parade of Politics" on Thursday.

“Politics are still shunned at many an institution and political actors do not have a true opportunity for showcasing their activities," Jukka Gustafsson, Minister of Education and patron of the event complained.

According to the student activists present, political groups have been thrown out of university events across Finland and the distribution of materials has been prevented. To start with, there is often the problem of not knowing who to ask for permission. Due to the Election Funding Act, political student organisations may not receive financial support from the student union in the same way as other student organisations.

Nationwide action fell short

It also emerged that one university of applied sciences prohibited this year’s Parade of Politics on its premises. The Minister of Education was wondering whether to call it right away or after the event.

”I have considered it self-evident that these kinds of initiatives are approved. Our society clearly has a need for expanding and deepening its democracy and the activity of nongovernmental organisations and political parties,” Mr Gustafsson said.

A fear of overpoliticisation, a thing well-known from previous decades, was considered to be underlying the distress over politics. In Helsinki, political actors are worried because independent groups have obtained the highest numbers of seats in the last two elections for representatives of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki. This autumn will see a new election.

Only a handful of actors had convened in the hall, but students were reached out for with flyers in the lower lobby of the main building at the same time. The National Coalition Party, Social Democratic Party and Centre Party youths were represented.

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Text: Elina Mattila-Niemi
Photo: Ari aalto
21.9.2012
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications


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