Brief in English


Course Books in the Shopping Mall

This summer, the Undergraduate Library’s General Lending and Course Book selection moved from its previous location in Domus Academica to the former Pukeva building, recently re-opened as the `Kaisa’ shopping center, at the crossroads of Vuorikatu and Kaisaniemenkatu. The library’s street address is Vuorikatu 7, with an entrance just a short walk from Porthania. Part of an on-going effort to create a localized `campus’, the new library is located above the new Kaisaniemi metro station. Elevators and escalators carry library users to either the third floor, containing course books, short-term loan material and English literature, or the cellar, where the general lending section has been relocated.
     Course books were crammed into a 300 square meter space in Domus, but now the library has a total of 3,300 square meters available. Elina Heikkilä, a sixth year student of art education, checked the new, spacious library out before it opened, “Looks stylish, I’ll be sure to stop by.” Former study rooms have been replaced with 42 computer stations, leaving 110 places for reading. The library will be fully operational beginning September 2nd, open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Study Aid Center Has Mercy

20,000 students throughout Finland received a letter last spring from the Study Aid Center asking for a monthly outline of income received in 1994. The objective was to crack down on students receiving the tax-free 1,570 marks monthly even though they were earning more than the state determined income ceiling allowed. These letters were the first large-scale investigation into misuse of the study grant in Finland. Students found guilty of too many earnings during the academic year were then required to pay back the misappropriated study grant. This fall, Helsinki students can be glad of their location. Of the 2,000 or so students that received the letter and were scrambling to get some money together, 800 students were pardoned.
    Seppo Naumanen
, Director of the Study Aid Center in Jyväskylä, is not happy, “As far as I know, nowhere else has been so relaxed as Helsinki. They don’t understand that if you forgive a deception, it violates uniformity.”Simo S. Soininen, Secretary of the Helsinki Study Aid Board, explains that in Helsinki, the board understood that it wasn’t compulsory to demand repayment. He even cites the statute: as long as the `excess payment was not caused by the fraudulent behavior of the recipient.” Soininen says, “Most of the students were in such a pitiful situation that there was no reason to ask them to pay back a few thousand marks.” He is annoyed with the entire campaign and feels that students should have been told that there was a chance of an inquiry already when they applied for aid. Naumanen has threatened to take away their decision-making power if they won’t adapt a stricter policy, “At worst, KELA will cancel the entire agreement with the board and things would get straightened out that way.” In any case, the decisions of the Helsinki board are binding. Those students who have been pardoned can breathe easy.

The Movies Become A Science

Starting this fall, after years of petitioning, students are finally able to study film and television at the University of Helsinki. The University of Turku has studied the art of moving pictures since the early 80’s and Oulu has had instruction for the last few years, and now, finally, Helsinki has created a 20 credit study block in film and TV studies. Docent Henry Bacon leads the department, “I believe that the study of film will quickly prove its necessity and will eventually earn more resources.” Bacon hopes that someday, students can major in film and TV studies in Helsinki. The fight to begin film and TV studies in Helsinki has been a long one. Finnish film guru Peter von Bagh supported the cause in the 70’s and the Finnish Film Foundation tried for years unsuccessfully to install a film science professor in Helsinki. This year’s success is due largely to the massive turn-outs for film lectures arranged since 1992 by the students themselves as part of the HYY Movie Group. “The process leading up to the creation of the film studies department is an excellent example of how students can directly affect university instruction if they are only energetic enough and persistent.” Bacon continues, “The University of Helsinki has a clear cultural-political obligation to arrange instruction in film studies because there is no other place in Finland with such opportunities to learn the history of film.”

New Rector Willing to Resign

Kari Raivio, the new Rector of the University of Helsinki, has started his term with hard promises. “If in two years, students don’t notice a change for the better in university instruction, I should go back to my babies.” Raivio, the former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and a specialist in premature infant studies, has experience in improving the quality of education. The Faculty of Medicine has experimented with problem-based instruction with success. Raivio plans to put each faculty’s dean on the spot and demand results in instruction development. If no proof of headway is shown, funding will be cut back. “Students have high expectations when they enter the university and they should be met.” Raivio feels the development of university instruction should also be reflected in a drop in mass lectures and faculty exams. “I think that students should be told the goals of instruction, after that, they should discover the information themselves. They shouldn’t be told that `read this and that book and you’ll pass the test’.”

A New Mannerheim Hall

The fifth floor of the New Student House, located at Mannerheimintie 5A, is now completly renovated and the Helsinki Student Union (HYY) has christened the large, refurbished hall inside after Carl Gustav Mannerheim. The name continues a tradition started in 1994 when various locations in the HYY building were named after great Finnish men and women. The central office of the Student Union already has rooms named Kivi, Topelius, and Runeberg, for example. It is also recorded that Mannerheim visited the New Student House in 1941 between the wars to receive a medal of honor from the Southwest Finnish Nation. Whether he actually visited the fifth floor is not known.

New Student Initiations of Old

Tradition has it in Finland that before new students can begin their studies at the university, veteran students can ridicule them in some way or another. Today this usually means dressing them up silly and making them wash a statue, for example. But students these days have it easy compared to the fate of the freshmen of the 1600’s. 400 years ago or so, studies at Turku Academy began with an initiation ceremony in which novices were asked extremely difficult questions they couldn’t possibly answer and were spanked for each error. The inquisition was meant to point out the ignorance of the new student and his blatant need for a university education. After the test, the novice was then strangled with wooden tongs and squashed to the floor with a planer. But it was only after the initiation ceremony that the hell began, the so-called `penal time’. Freshman were assigned an older student as a guide, but the older students quickly took advantage of the young students. They were sent to fetch newspapers, study material and beer; were forced to entertain older students by singing and dancing at parties; and provided an easy punching bag when they wouldn’t obey. First-year student Andreas Köning filed a complaint with the University Senate about two students that boxed his ears so severely, he could no longer hear out of his left ear.