Brief in English


26 Years at Franzenia

In 1961, Yrjö Anttila was chosen from 100 applicants to become the new superintendent of Franzeninkatu 13. `Franzenia’ went on to become the property of the University of Helsinki in 1965, housing the departments of sociology, social policy, and social psychology. The 1960’s in Finland were the `golden age’ of social studies, when baby-boomers filled the auditoriums and sociology was the fashionable subject to study. Anttila remembers all the work that went along with the departments’ popularity. The 70’s, on the other hand, expanded his job responsibilities in ways he didn’t expect.
     “Franzenia was the hotbed of radical students. They disturbed instruction and professors came to me many times and asked me to remove a heckler from the lecture hall. Some of them protested, but I just threw them over my shoulder and walked out,” Anttila laughs. “If they put a poster up that was bigger than A4, I got out the scissors and cut it to the right size. If they put up propaganda somewhere other than the bulletin board, I took it down. I was just doing what I was told to do.” He adds, “Later, one young radical student came to me and said that I was the nicest of all of the University superintendents.” Over the years, thousands of students have come to identify Anttila as the genial father figure of Franzenia. “Our family was often invited to doctoral celebrations and Christmas parties – places superintendents aren’t usually invited.” The Social Sciences recently re-located to the center of town and Franzenia now stands empty. The University is trying to sell it, but no buyers have been found.

U.S. Students Apathetic About the Vote

Less than a month until the presidential election in America and Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are preparing for their final campaign onslaughts. College students throughout the United States are disillusioned with the negative images and dirty campaigning. Politics is corrupt and self-repsecting young people stay far away. Voters have to register before they can vote in America and a major effort, Rock the Vote, is encouraging young people to use their voting right. Voting is `cool’ and a representative democracy is `hip’. Crissy DiVincenzo has come to a Rock the Vote register point, “I don’t have a clue who I’ll vote for in November. Perhaps I am an independent Democrat. Voting is important, but it is so hard to choose between the candidates.” Eddie Daniel is also registering, “I’m voting for Clinton. Dole is OK but the Democrats are more trustworthy.”

Students Vary When It Comes to Clothes

Students these days are level-headed consumers. Some believe in recycling clothes, others look for new quality clothes that will last. Soili Marjamäki buys all of her clothes at the flea market. Her twin sister, Sonja, buys “a little bit more from stores… nice stuff that doesn’t cost much, like sweaters, jeans and flannel shirts.” Anne Luukkonen has a more expensive style, as her leather jacket shows. “I buy something if it looks good. Many of my friends buy cheaper things, but more often.” Toni Kräk says he uses about 200 marks a month on clothes, “I like to look good.” Rami Nevala would be ready to spend 5,000 marks on a new jacket if it was stylish. He spends about 1,000 marks a month on clothes, or “however much I’ve got.” Pate Helander remembers buying one shirt from the flea market. “I don’t care what I put on in the morning. I’ve gotten most of my clothes from friends.”

Rolling With the Changes in Russia

    After seeing a number of good Soviet films as a teen, Maria Lappalainen decided the only place to study film directing was Moscow. “I imagined that that I would find real art.” Although politics had nothing to do with her decision, she ran into Soviet bureaucracy right away. Before her studies began, she was sent to Kiev to the `preparatory faculty’, where she met other foreign students. She was later informed that in order to be able to go home, she had to bribe the Dean with video cameras and the like. Her negligence in this respect earned her a nasty recommendation from the school.
     Despite this, she passed the entrance exam at the Film Institute in Moscow. In 1990, only three students were admitted. During her stay in Kiev, the Ukraine declared itself independent and many foreigners were killed in the fighting. “When I got to Moscow, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought I had seen my last tank,” Maria explains. But in the winter of 1991, sugar, vodka, tobacco and virtually everything else was rationed and violence towards foreigners was frequent. “I was lucky because I have white skin and I learned to dress like the Russians.” The Soviet Union fell and Maria saw tanks again on the streets of Moscow. Looking back, would she do it again? “If I was 19 years old and knew what I should expect…Hindsight is a complicated thing. I probably wouldn’t know as much as I do, if all of this hadn’t happened.”

Kumpula’s Campus Grows

The Faculty of Math and Natural Sciences has long dreamt of creating its own campus center. This last August, the dream took a major step towards becoming reality when the faculty’s administration moved into the old estate building in Kumpula. The effort to centralize the faculty in Kumpula began in the 1960’s when planning for the new building for the chemistry department began. Although the biosciences ended up in Viikki, the next goal is the transfer of the physics and geography departments by the turn of the century, bringing all the exact sciences to Kumpula. Satu Turunen of the Faculty’s Senate explains, “We also hope to get decentralized registration and registrar services to Kumpula eventually.” For city-centered students, Kumpula seems like a long way out from downtown. But, most students agree that the fall colors on the Kumpula hill are a beautiful sight to behold. Janne Jokinen, a post-graduate student of physics, comments, “Before I had to run around all over the city, now all I’ve got to do is go to the library.”

Kystä Group Finds Favor

    Kultturin Ystävät (Friends of Culture), or `Kystä’, is a student-based political group that has gained a wide reputation for itself with its out-of-the-ordinary campaign techniques and slogans. Before last year’s election for University Student Senate representatives, Kystä’s members distributed sahti, a Finnish alcoholic drink, to students in front of Porthania. Kystä also has gathered together 22 young candidates for this weekend’s upcoming elections for Helsinki city council. `Immaterial consumerism’ is the party’s slogan. Milka Sunell, the party chairperson, feels it is truly the best way to promote employment, “I don’t hope that our generation will reach the material standard of living out parents have, but I do hope that we will reach a better spiritual level.”
     At the recent opening party for the campaign, Finland’s ballet guru Jorma Uotinen explained what drew him to participate, “I am excited about this phenomenon. It is good that young people show themselves and break off from the major parties. There have to be groups like this so there will be some dynamics in our society. I have been considering whether I should even vote for them.”

A Writer Of His Generation

    When Kjell Westö began his career as a writer in the 1980’s, he said he wanted to write a `sad song for the lost generation.’ Today, ten years later, Westö breaks into laughter when reminded of his words. “You have to remember that I was in my early twenties when I said that. Every generation is lost somehow, really. I have no intention of writing about particular generation any longer.” Westö’s latest work, Drakarna över Helsingfors , (Kites Over Helsinki), is his first full-length novel. The book tells the story of four generations of the Bexar family, beginning when the father of the Bexar family returns as a child war refugee from Sweden to Finland. “I wanted to show just how the post-war generation’s work morale and picture of the world has become an impossibility for our generation. In the same time span Helsinki has become a totally different city – foreigners on the street and beer in public places.” Westö is a Swedish-speaking Finn, but prefers not to align himself too closely with either language camp. He feels this non-alignment is valuable to him as a writer. “There is no pure Swedish-speaking Finnish, just a wider language scale. My bilingualism has not been a problem for me, but for others it has.”

Pamela Kaskinen