In this blog post we have gathered the main things that have happened during this fall concerning our advocacy work. We explain a bit of what we have been working on regarding international affairs, study areas at the campus, and crisis support for the students.
This fall, we have started to organize “International Forums” through Zoom. The idea is a laid back forum for all international students at ÅAU and their tutors, both exchange and master. The idea of the Forum is for us to be able to tell international students and tutors about current matters and advocacy work we are doing right now, as well as a place for them to tell us about their concerns, issues and experiences at ÅAU. We want to provide this opportunity since we know that it can be difficult for international students to participate in what we do and find information in due to linguistic barriers. We are very glad that some international students and tutors had the time and interest to participate, and we hope that we are able to continue this concept in the Spring.
The Crisis Management Group for ÅAU (which our General Secretary Jasmin is part of) has given the Crisis Support Group for ÅAU (which our Student Right’s Expert Petra is part of) the assignment of coming up with suggestions for measures that will support the students in the continuing pandemic. The Crisis Support Group has also been expanded with representatives from all faculties and the Student Union Board members Amanda, Matias, Sara and Tobias. The Crisis Support Group shall in the immediate future present suggestions on easy practical ways of supporting the students with learning, look over the workload and increase the community feeling. The Student Union has in this process brought up the importance of other examination forms than submission assignments, clear course information and increased opportunities to book group study rooms at the campus.
The Ministry of Education and Culture has reserved resources for supporting the students, and we at the Student Union have together with the ÅAU applied for money to for instance increased study psychologist services, study counsellors who will contact students in risk of dropping out, and different study circles and everyday-support groups for students.
ÅAU will start recruiting another study psychologist for the semester to cut down the queues. At this moment you can use MindChat from Tuesday to Thursday.
It is good if all students and associations continuously discuss with the personnel at ÅAU on what practical things are needed to cope with the courses, as well as give examples of what works, for instance give examples on which course teacher has clear course requirements or a clear moodle page. If there is a wish for a meeting with a certain subject or major, or to write a letter about the students wishes, we are happy to help!
The Equality Committee of Åbo Akademi University (with two student representatives and Petra from the Student Union as an expert member) are working on analyzing the answers from the survey that was carried out during autumn. The plans for equality and equal treatment are made separately for students and personnel. We are pleased about the fact that concrete measures, that are needed to reach the goals laid out in the plans, are written down.
On the initiative of the Student Union restaurant ASA in Åbo and Foajén in Academill in Vasa got available as study spaces for first year students in the beginning of October. At the meeting 5/20 the Student Council also commissioned the Executive Board together with the Financial Department to investigate the possibility to utilize Kåren as study spaces for all students. Unfortunately these plans are now on pause due to the fire at Kåren 17.10.
At the request of the students and the Student Council, we lobbied for the libraries on campus in Åbo to extend their opening hours. As a result the library’s service units ASA-library and Book Tower extended their opening hours to 18 o’clock Mon-Thu in the beginning of October.
This year we have had several meetings with Associate Director Lena Nybond and also this fall a meeting with Communications Manager Thurid Eriksson. During the meetings we have brought up the lack of communication to students, especially about decisions that are made at the university, the importance of everyday clarity, discussed course arrangements, problems in distance and hybrid teaching etc. Regular meetings during the year and an open dialogue have been very nice, a big thank you to Lena for that and we hope that the good cooperation can continue next year.