In addition to TOKYO, which unites the entire School of Arts, Design and Architecture, there are many student associations that represent the students of one or more departments or study programs. These organizations are composed of, and run by, students and are a key part of Finnish university culture. Their roles include maintaining a lively community, organizing student parties and excursions, helping students along on their career, and, above all, advocating for the students’ rights.
Without active student volunteers to run these organizations there would be no institutions to make sure the students are treated fairly or to arrange events for students. Each student works in these associations according to their own strengths, interests and capacity; one might be interested in parties, while another wants better couches at the department home base, and yet another wants to create networks in the working life, while someone else might want to expand their graphic design portfolio, and so on. Critical scrutiny of the school’s operations, such as problems with the curriculum or inappropriate conduct by the staff, is also a key part of student associations’ activities.
Association activity is not merely a fun hobby, as the associations assume many important roles within the school’s operations and the school willingly cooperates with the associations on important matters. The associations serve as the bridge between the students and the staff, ensuring that the students’ voices are heard in key issues. They also cooperate with the school’s Learning Services to facilitate the orientation and tutoring of new students.
Student union, TOKYO, student association?
A student union is a legally mandated body that exists in all Finnish universities. All degree students in Finnish universities are part of a student union, as membership is compulsory. The students of Aalto ARTS are part of the Aalto University Student Union (AYY).
TOKYO ry is the umbrella association for all Aalto ARTS students. The association upholds the traditions and culture of the former student union of the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture), and supports the smaller student associations of ARTS. However, as it is no longer a formal student union, TOKYO membership is voluntary (but highly recommended).
A student association (also called a guild in the technical fields) is an organization of one or more departments or study programs. These associations organize parties, excursions and other events, and conduct advocacy for their students on the level of their respective study programs or departments. In Aalto, these associations operate under AYY’s umbrella, but are also formally registered organizations in their own right. Membership of these organizations is voluntary (but also highly recommended).
DADA – The students of Aalto Media Lab
ETL Elokuvataiteen ja lavastustaiteen opiskelijat ry – The students of the Department of Film, Television and Scenography
GRRR ry – The students of graphic design
Guild of Architecture – The students of architecture
Kooma ry – The students of art education
NuDe, Nuoret Designerit ry – The students of design
Sista – The students of interior architecture
Vista ry – The students of landscape architecture
Vimma – The students of the Cumma and Vicca programs
In addition to these associations, many of the student organizations at Aalto University outside ARTS are also available for our students. These include both academic associations and numerous hobbyist clubs. A complete listing of associations in Aalto can be found here.
How to get involved
If all this has piqued your interest even a little bit, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the actives of TOKYO or your own department’s association – you’ll surely find something to do! Association activity doesn’t even have to be completely regular; in addition to board membership, most student associations have low-threshold volunteer groups (such as the Committee in TOKYO’s case) with several different activities to choose from.
And it’s not just about work either – above all, association activity is all about having the time of your life with an awesome group of people and gaining unforgettable experiences to look back on. For non-Finnish students in particular it’s a great way of immersing yourself in the local culture- and teaching the locals something new in turn.
Take everything you can out of your time in Aalto and come along- association activity is fun!
Help for association activity
Student associations can turn to TOKYO’s help when faced with any kind of issues. Through TOKYO, student associations are able to get their voice heard more effectively. Financial support for association activities can be applied for from AYY (see the AYY website for more information). TOKYO can also grant funds for singular projects or events.
TOKYO arranges monthly student association meetings to which all association actives and students otherwise interested in happenings around the school are welcome. Contact the TOKYO chairperson and ask when and where is the next meeting happening!