The 24th May HYVÄT participated in the Grand Sitsit, an academic dinner party held outdoors on the Senate Square. The event was organised by the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) and the Co-delegation of student nations. The special occasion this year was the Student Union’s 150 anniversary, and the 375-year anniversary of the old student nation system.
The event was now arranged for the third time (although this was the first time HYVÄT participated) and it gathered around 2000 partying students on the square. Most of them were from the Student Union’s organisations and the Student Union, but the guests included also the Chair of the Board of the University of Helsinki, President Tarja Halonen, and Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki.
The program consisted of traditional eating, drinking and singing together. HYVÄT served a three course vegan meny to go with the singing, which consisted of songs in Finnish, Swedish, English, as well as occasional German, Estonian, and Latin.
Some of the best moments are presented in the pics below.
May 16, 2018 something called PhDoffice or Porthania Home Demonstration office took place on Porthania yard from 10-12.30. The event was arranged by a group of PhD students, as a protest against the severe cuts in office spaces: the Faculty of Arts has decided to cut 25 % of its square meters. This desicion has to do with the whole university being under pressure to cut down on its square meters, and similar cuts have already been made in other faculties.
The event was a plea for the preservation of humanities research communities, and a reminder that the research community consists of professors, as well as other staff, such as doctoral researchers.
The cuts would affect the whole research community as more people would be concentrated into smaller offices, but they would hit the young researchers the hardest. The majority of doctoral students is working on grants, and most of them will likely now be excluded from the office spaces and thus from the research community. It also deserves to be said that it has already been very difficult (and for many outright impossible) to get an office space as a grantee on the city centre campus. Only the small employed minority of doctoral students can count on having office spaces in the future. The situation is further complicated by the fact that those who are unfunded (in-between grants or in the process of applying for a grant) are already excluded from the research community, because it usually is impossible to get an office space without funding. Now the group of excluded young researchers is about to grow significantly.
Separating the great majority of humanities doctoral students from their disciplinary communities would also put them in an unequal position compared to doctoral students on other campuses. How will humanities doctoral students be properly educated as researchers if their working conditions are considerably worse than those of their colleagues? How will they be integrated into the research community? How will they learn from their colleagues if they are separated from them?
During the event these questions were discussed with Hanna Snellman, (dean of the Faculty of Arts), Minna Palander-Collin (director of the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences), and Kirsi Korpiaho (coordinator of the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences). Unfortunately, neither the faculty nor the doctoral school could promise any changes to planned cuts. However, the difficult situation was recognised, and both faculty and school were ready to support other ways to improve the integration of doctoral students into the researchcommunity. Also the campus pastor Leena Huovinen came by to give her views on the (lack of) community at the university, and what could be done to improve things.
Now practical solutions are needed: how can the workspace situation and the integration of doctoral students into the research community be improved? Suggestions were collected during the event and they will be presented as soon as the organisers have had time to compile them – more info is coming!
Ultimately these cuts, like other recent cuts at the university, are caused by the Finnish government’s cuts in university funding. Did they realize that this would be one of the outcomes; that early career researchers would be even more excluded from the university community than they already are? If nothing is done to fix this problem, one question is, who benefits from the exclusion of researchers – and why. As early career researchers, our main concern now is what we can do to turn these developments in a better direction.
Together with the Doctoral School and Doctoral Education steering group representatives, HYVÄT has made a statement on the university’s policy of allocating work spaces to doctoral students.
Our main concern is that the university should provide doctoral candidates with equal possibilities to pursue their doctoral studies and complete their dissertation. Offering doctoral candidates office space is one crucial component of these possibilities, and one that many doctoral students lack at the moment.
We propose that:
1. Practices for distributing office space should be standardized and openly available throughout the university.
2. Working spaces should be free of charge. Doctoral candidates are often working on limited and short-term funding, and asking them to pay for coming to work cannot be justified.
3. Source of funding as a strict criterion for working space should be abandoned because it creates several hierarchies of doctoral candidates.
4. Doctoral candidates are a significant part of their disciplinary research communities/groups and this should be acknowledged in practice by integrating them into the office spaces of their research disciplines or groups.
5. Doctoral candidates significantly contribute to the research that is carried out at the university. Hence, it should be in the university’s interest to provide an attractive working environment for doctoral candidates.
The key is to allocate work space to the doctoral candidates in connection to the relevant discipline or research group, so that they have a possibility to connect with colleagues in their own field (supervisors, staff, and fellow doctoral candidates). Office spaces where they are cut off from their closest colleagues do not offer the support of the community.
The entire statement as well as a list of the recipients can be found here.
EDIT [10 May]: The Faculty of Arts replied to our statement 9 May, the reply can be found here.
On 26 April HUART and HYVÄT made a joint statement on the university’s planning and decision-making concerning work spaces. That statement can be read here (only in Finnish). The Faculty of Arts reply to it can be read here.
We are very pleased to announce HYVÄT’s first Wellbeing Workshop!
Our latest survey has shown that doctoral candidates are in dire need of support to face the multiple challenges related to studies, work environment and community, as well as thesis writing. As a reaction to this, HYVÄT decided to organise a workshop, focused on the theme of Wellbeing. We have invited student psychologists from the Nyyti group, work community consultants and counsellors from the Faculty of Theology, and a representative from Unisport. The experts will give their presentations, followed by discussion session, coffee and snacks.
The workshop will be held on the 9th of May, from 14:00 to 17:00 in the Language centre of the city centre campus.
The address is Fabianinkatu 26, first floor, room 115.
On May 24th, the students of the University of Helsinki celebrate the dawning summer by gathering at Senate Square for an academic dinner party (sitsit). The event gathers record-breaking 2000 participants to eat, drink and sing together. You can find the event in Facebook.
HYVÄT has reserved 20 places for its members. The seats will be given to the first 20 to register. The registration will open on April 9th at 12.00 and will close on May 3th.
The participation fee is 15 euros and it includes a three-course dinner, drinks and a great company with fellow PhD students. The participants are asked to bring their own plates, cutleries and cups.