University Environmental Plan Limps Forward
The University of Helsinki has the environmental impact of a medium-sized city. 30000 students and 6000 employees work in over 400 buildings, with combined energy costs of over 30 million Finnish marks. 135 tons of waste are brought to landfills every month and 65 million copies are made annually.
”In the last few decades, Helsinki University has not acted as a trailblazer in its functional ecological development, although this is a role that should be expected from a higher education institution.” This is how the University Senate appraised the situation in their sustainable development plan released last spring. When compared to the environmental planning of the corporate world or even municipalities, the University has fallen behind.
The sustainable development plan found several areas that could be improved upon. For example, there are only 600 bike racks throughout the university premises, compared with 800 free parking spots. The plan outlines 28 proposals for sustainable development, like requiring a careful consideration of the environmental effects of any new investments, the acquisition of video conference equipment, discounted public transportation tickets for all university employees and annual environmental action reports.
Project Director Bernt Nordman believes that the University administration is serious about the plan, but wishes the plan had more backbone. ”The responsibility is divided among the administration, most of it split between the technical division and the personnel. Of course, they are the ones that influence whether things go according to schedule or not, but there are not enough resources to hire people that would concentrate on only this and develop it further.”
No Land to Build On For Student Housing
Housing policy studies support more student accommodations in Helsinki. Hoas, the Helsinki Student Housing Foundation, has the money to build them. The problem is finding the space to do it.Add to this an interesting turn of events. Some time ago, the city of Helsinki reserved a track of land east of the city for Hoas to build student apartments. The land was near the shoreline in a part of town called Arabia, after the old ceramics factory there. The Arabia area is a short distance from the growing university communities of Kumpula and Viikki, homes of many departments from Faculty of Science and Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
There was one problem however, the ground had been contaminated and would require expensive cleaning before any building could be done. The city cancelled the Hoas reservation, not because they were worried about the contamination, but because they had decided that the city would attract more money from other prospective homeowners if there were no students to lessen the area¦s appeal.
The Helsinki University Student Association, HYY, was up in arms. It released a fiery statement with the title, ’Students aren’t good enough for Arabia’s shoreline’. The city’s real estate board quickly responded that their decision had nothing to do with image preservation. The response from HYY seems to have made a difference, however. The prospect of a Hoas building in Arabia is now back on the table.
Peter Fredriksson, a Researcher for the Ministry of Environment, is preparing a new housing policy plan. The need for more student housing is clear. The estimate from the student housing advising committee is a yearly increase of 3 000 units to meet demand, up from the current 1 000 ¡ 1 500 units annually.
A new student housing complex in a downtown area of Helsinki called Kamppi, behind the central bus station on Leppäsuonkatu, will open in the fall. Renovation of the Domus Academica A building, that formerly housed the Undergraduate Library, is now completed and work will begin shortly on buildings B and C.
University Gets Its Own Bar
A small, vaulted cellar bar was opened last week in the Helsinki University vicinity, at Unioninkatu 38. The bar can be reached from the courtyard of the building, or by entering from the Fabianinkatu entrance. The University Club (Yliopistoklubi) is a new venture of the Unicafe food services, the same company that provides the university with cafeteria and cafÃš food.
The Club was founded with university staff as its target clientele, but students are also welcome. The bar serves alcohol, coffee, rolls and sandwiches from 2 ¡11 p.m. on weekdays.’Private functions and parties can also be accommodated. ”So far I’ve seen more students than professors,” says
Timo Nerg, the bartender who worked through most of the first week. The bar is looking to expand into the courtyard when the warm weather comes, but it must first get permission from the university to serve outside on a terrace.
Starmakers: Becoming a Pop Music Icon
For several years now in the music industry, stars no longer appear, they are made. The Finnish teenage girl band Tiktak is an example.After hearing some rehearsal tapes from the girls, the Finnish Universal Music studios decide’ to make the girls stars. While the studio execs polished the band’s image and sent out media hype, Maki Kolehmainen
from the Finnish supergroup, Aikakone, wrote some songs. A few months later, Tiktak’s debut single appeared along with its video. Their second release,Lopeta (Stop), won a song contest on Finland’s teen music show, Jyrki. This propelled it to the playing circuit of Radiomafia, Finland’s most popular music radio station, with over one million listeners every week. Once the hype was big enough, Tiktak’s first album was released. Last week, the girls accepted a platinum album for over 40 000 copies sold.
The fifty-year-old Universal execs had correctly anticipated the reception among teenage girls: they had made Tiktak stars. It was a perfectly executed plan.
The Finnish rock magazine Rumba did a survey three years ago in which they asked music industry representatives who they felt had the most power in the domestic pop music business. Four record companies, four representatives of the media conglomerates and two concert producers rose to the top of the list.
The trend today worldwide is to concentrate efforts. Music industry giants have a vested interest in combining public relations, advertising and recording all under one roof. The recent merge of America Online and Time Warner is the latest sign of this change.
For the time being, the music industry in Finland is still playing by the old rules. ”(Music producers) send pins or stickers or crap like that, but I haven’t gotten any booze for years, not even for Christmas,” laughs Ilkka Mattila, a music critic and former editor-in-chief of Rumba. That’s not to say that top artists don’t appreciate the support they receive from the media. The Finnish band, Apulanta, presented its first gold album to Rumba, Soundi (another Finnish music magazine), and Radiomafia to thank them for their good words.