Community on lockdown – what comes next?

From Chair of the Board

Vituttaa. What would be the proper translation for that? During the past year, we’ve struggled with ever-changing situations. Cancelled gatherings on short notice. Heard words of encouragement only to have another turn towards darkness. Received criticism that felt excessive and unfair.

This turmoil has most definitely affected my personal wellbeing. Excessive Wolt orders, growing piles of laundry and snoozing until the first mandatory Zoom meeting… For our community, the pressure to succeed and fight the pain has always been there. The earliest column of a KY chair on my Google Drive is from May 2003, written about the anxiety and an unforgiving atmosphere.

“In our community, everyone should be able to say aloud when they can’t. One doesn’t always have to perform and pull through. And there is nothing wrong in failing sometimes.” (Kylteri, 2003)

We need to be more forgiving to ourselves. Especially as we head towards another spring of closed restaurants and gyms, cancelled hobbies and little to no live gatherings, this is nothing we can ever get completely used to. I’m very happy for everyone who has managed to optimise their daily lives to be productive, balanced and healthy. But that is not the universal norm.

For most of us, small steps and successes build better wellbeing and happier everyday this spring.


New board, new volunteers, similar challenges – what has KY done?

KY is a community made of students, and our volunteers are not immune to the wellbeing challenges of the broader community. Our traditions, working culture structures have formed over 110 years: we know how to organise strong traditional events and advocate for business students’ interests. Our culture lives on all the live interactions at the events in our community and random meetings on campus. It has taken time to shake things up, but we are getting there.

Concretely, we have looked at this challenge in three ways: setting predictable restrictions, supporting associations, and advocating better practices in studies at the School of Business.

Firstly, we have wanted to set restrictions and give recommendations that comply with the authorities but also give guidance in the longer-term. Our board has made the decisions trying to treat everyone in our community equally: closing our premises, recommending remote and hybrid gatherings and piloting remote concepts in committees run by board members.

Secondly, we opened Saha as a support point for associations organizing remote events. In addition, KY Foundation project grants are available for support in trying out new remote concepts. The first approved grant was to Aalto Investment Club’s Aalto Invests, a new concept for bringing the community together in a game-like form. More details on how to apply for project grants are here.

Thirdly, our meetings with the Dean and other School of Business faculty and staff have played an important part. Including community aspects in studies, supporting students with more flexible study arrangements and promoting summer courses to assist everyone’s personal schedule.

We’d love to hear what you want us to do. Shoot me a message anytime!


Yes, distance learning is flexible, but the pandemic situation takes away the gains.

Students are looking for concrete solutions from the Finnish Government and health authorities in both municipalities and the FSHS. In the special COVID-19 briefing directed at students from ministers Sanna Marin, Annika Saarikko and Jussi Saramo, the ministers’ answers were focused on surface-level patches, not sustainable solutions. 

Ministers agreed that we are facing an exceptional situation. Some silver-linings of COVID-19 were raised, including the added flexibility to learning. Saarikko brought up the social and health reform, but it does not help us tackle the immediate crisis in any way. Some reliefs, including flexibility to study grants by Kela, have been added. That deserves a thank you.

Unfortunately, none of the measures help the students facing months-long queues for urgent mental health services. Those who are facing lockdown alone in their new homes. International students who cannot visit their families due to closed borders.

We students, mostly young adults forging our personal, professional and academic identities, have been feeling alone. Stronger support measures and a sense of caring need to emerge.

The situation requires more resources for urgent mental health and student services.

Annika Nevanpää, the chair for the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), highlighted on Twitter students’ disappointment for the briefing. We expected something new but received taps on the back. Adding resources to mental health and FSHS, supporting student services in universities, and opening campuses for our communities safely? That is what we need.

The ministers promised that after the three-week lockdown, the restrictions would be stricter for adults whereas the young would have the chance to go back to normal as much as possible. Students in higher education are young adults and this won’t help us in any way. We have already been studying remotely for one year and there have been no signs of going back to normal.

The government needs to show light at the end of the tunnel for us, students in higher education. Prime Minister Marin concluded the briefing by stressing that the restrictions are there to help us and get back to normal as soon as possible. Most students understand that. One thing is clear: the vague concept of hope does not help when you are screaming for help and no one answers.


Niko Ylä-Poikelus

040 414 3619