At its meeting on 21st April, the Student Union’s Council of Representatives approved JYY’s updated policy paper. The policy paper is opened for consideration by the Council of Representatives every two years, at the beginning of the Council of Representatives term.
The policy paper is a document that outlines the kind of advocacy and lobbying work that JYY does and the goals the student union has; both within the university and in the society in general. Therefore, the purpose of the policy paper is to describe the goals that JYY sets for activities and advocacy work outside the organization. The policy paper is divided into five main sections, which are: Higher education policy, Society, Regional policy, Housing and Sustainable development. Each section is then divided into smaller sections that describe the objectives associated with the topic. In a nutshell: the paper outlines what JYY thinks.
Why is JYY doing advocacy work?
The role of the student union is to oversee the interests of its members – i.e. the students. Through our advocacy work, we aim to ensure that no party – such as the university or the city – makes decisions that negatively affect students’ lives or opportunities to study. On the other hand, lobbying and advocacy work is also carried out to ensure that no party takes away the benefits already achieved and to ensure better opportunities for students to live and study in Jyväskylä.
Student life often revolves around the university and campus. However, students are also part of the city and they operate in environments and communities other than those directly related to their studies. That is why it is important for us to be aware of, as well as to influence and monitor the decisions made by the city as well. We want to ensure a comprehensive, good life and living environment for students in Jyväskylä.
The policy paper also serves as the basis of JYY’s future municipal policy program, which outlines the municipal advocacy work carried out by the student union.
Changes and clarifications to the policy paper
The policy paper was first approved in November 2018. It also formed the foundation for this updated version. Some of the objectives and policies were added, removed and specified. In addition, separate housing policy paper and working life policy paper, which were already outdated, were refined and combined with the policy paper.
A working group consisting of the members of JYY’s Board of Executives was responsible for updating the policy paper. The working group cooperated with the Council of Representatives groups in a total of six workshops that each introduced one main topic. The proposed amendments, deletions and additions, as well as the workshop discussions, eventually resulted in an updated policy paper, which was approved at the Council meeting on 21st April.
The biggest updates in the policy paper are the clarifications regarding the policy goals of student admission in higher education institutions, as well as the clarifications regarding the equality and society sections of the policy paper.
Applying for universities is a hot topic especially this spring. Although the state of emergency did not affect the content of the policy paper as such, JYY’s stand on the issue has been specified in the paper. Especially in connection with applying to a university, JYY’s view was emphasized that the role of the open university as a channel in applying to a university should not be increased, because as long as studying at an open university is paid, it is not accessible to everyone and an equal way to get accepted to a university. Studying in Finland is free of charge and should remain so.
In the equality section, it was emphasized that JYY is a feminist organization. As a student union, we believe that every person, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity for an equal and dignified life and well-being as well as the opportunity to participate in the surrounding society. Equality is one of JYY’s four values and the Student Union has been actively working to promote it for years. By declaring ourselves a feminist organization, we want to emphasize JYY’s active role and strive to achieve comprehensive equality. Feminism as a term is broader than equality, because in addition to the core values, it also emphasizes the importance of taking an active role in the social debate and dismantling the structures that limit meaningful action.
The updated version of the society section outlines that JYY is a democratic organization that actively opposes extremism that threatens democracy. We felt that it was important to talk about it out loud and state that our student union does not accept activities and movements that threaten democracy. JYY’s Board of Executives participated in the social debate in February with the statement “There is no place for fascism in a democratic society” and now it has officially been stated in our policy paper as well.
The writers are members of the working group responsible for updating the policy paper.
Municipality and advocacy
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This blog text is a part of a series of articles in which Student Union decision making and activities are made more clear. Blog texts so far:
- JYY Updated the Policy Paper
- As a Member of JYY, You Also Own JYY’s Business – This Is How We Want to Develop Student Housing And Restaurant Business
- JYY Is Calculating Its Carbon Footprint and Planning How to Reduce the Student Union’s Emissions
- JYY to Increase Efficiency by Reducing Bureaucracy in Business Decisions