Ulla Hemminki
Chairperson of the Board in the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY)
Søren Berg Rasmussen
Member of the Council of Representative of HYY for the Tsemppi Group

International student organisations at the Student Union feel that they have been victimised by HYY in the granting of rooms for the years 2009-2010. HYY has also been criticised by these organisations on its treatment of foreign students of University of Helsinki. Chairperson of the Board Ulla Hemminki answers the criticism of Søren Berg Rasmussen .

On the room allocation process

SBR: The Economy Board made a proposal on room allocation last May. Next thing we heard was that we have been put into a closet. We thought that in the room allocation process the most important thing was how many active members you have, not how well you can lobby different groups at HYY.
    UH: I think it`s funny that you say that you didn`t hear anything before the final decision. In May it was only the first suggestion. During the summer organisations had the possibility to give us feedback. After having read all these feedback the Economy Board made the final decision in September which the HYY board then accepted. You had the access to all information. Tsemppi had a representative in the Economy Board.
    SBR: Even if you have access to all information, you have to know where to seek it. You have to know that there is some kind of information somewhere. You mentioned that there was a working group. Our representative wasn`t part of it.
    UH: No, but she had a possibility to be.
    SBR: Yes, but did she know that? Many times we have been told that hey, these committees are boring, don`t be bothered, you can`t make any real decisions there anyway. And of course it is hard for us to get representatives to these committees because most of us don`t speak Finnish.
    UH: Your representative speaks Finnish almost perfectly and she has been joining the meetings. If someone is able to join the working groups but doesn`t do so, it`s difficult to say that hey you should be doing this or that and you should join. ?????
    SBR: There is something wrong if even the member of the Economy Board doesn`t know what`s going on. It is obviously true that we have a member, but there are also other international groups that feel they got screwed over. They should have got information also. Otherwise it is a very interesting democratic process!
    UH: I totally agree with you that the process was not like it should have been. It hasn`t been like this before and it became far too political.

On discrimination

SBR: General attitude in HYY seems to be that we are kind of nuisance and we shouldn`t really ask for anything. We should just be happy that we are included if we do exactly what the Finns want us to do. Of course we appreciate people like you who have been very active for a long time. But to be honest, the only reason HYY has language policy now is that we have been fighting with the Student Union for years.
    UH: …you and other people who are interested in international affairs. I agree with you that the information given in English in HYY has not been sufficient. During the past years it has been terrible. But we really have done so much progress. This year we have started to make new web sites in English and we have hired a translator who translates everything in English.

On Ylioppilaslehti

SBR: Obviously we would like to read information in English in Ylioppilaslehti. This was one of the first things we started to discuss four years ago. We were given several promises and they were never lived up to. We would like to have an organisation where people think that international students are quite a valuable source too.
    UH: I am happy that international students are active. If there hadn`t been pressure towards HYY, people wouldn`t have seen the needs of international students. I know there are bad attitudes at the University but I think we can only get over them little by little during the years.