This month, BTSB took time to interview Anna Kamula, elected as president of SUB in the previous annual meeting after two terms of vice presidency. In addition to chairing SUB, Anna is currently active in HYY as a student representative and as a vice member of the preparatory committee, as well as in Hyal ry. as an event official.
So, Anna, nice to get the chance to hear from you again in festive circumstances. Last time you appeared here on BTSB as a oh-so-fresh student representative, this time you’ve tackled SUB’s presidency. Congratulations are once again in order!
Thanks! I’m excited about the new board and am sure this year is going to be the best for SUB yet! I know that’s a lot to say but I believe we’re off to a good start already.
First things first, this is a big year for SUB in terms of events. It’s the organization’s 40th anniversary and SUB will be hosting this years National Meeting of English Students in Helsinki. How have the preparations for the two events gone from the viewpoint of president? How are your speeches turning out?
Oh god, the speech.. Haven’t even had the chance to think about it. Maybe I’ll just wing it!
But yeah, both events are coming along fine. We have opened the sign-up for both events and are hoping for a massive turnout.
The anniversary dinner on March 15th will certainly be a blast! 40 years is a long time and I’m so proud to be able to be a part of this all! I have my hands full since I’m also in charge of the actual organizing of the event, but we have an enthusiastic group working on it. We have the dean of the faculty of arts, Anna Mauranen, as a speaker. As a former student of English at the University of Helsinki she’ll surely be able to tell us a lot about what student life was like in those days. And people should keep in mind that even if they’re not attending the actual dinner they can attend the after party in Alina or take part in some of the other events the board is organizing around that time.
And actually it’s a big year for NMES as well since this will be the 20th NMES ever. The event has grown to huge proportions during the last few years. When I started my studies in 2008 I think we had just over 10 people from SUB attending. This year we’re expecting about 200 participants from all over Finland! We’re having the sitsit on Friday in Tenalji von Fersen in Suomenlinna, and I think the venue certainly is more than acceptable for an event this big. On Saturday we have the traditional bar crawl where everyone is welcome. And stay tuned, we might have an extremely interesting and very important guest at the sitsit. The NMES committee will provide more information about the event later.
Following in a long line of capable presidents, how do you see the “State of Union” of SUB?
I think all in all SUB is doing well. However we have a few things that we need to focus on to make SUB even better serve it’s members. First of all we need to develop our working life and studies sector. We’re planning on organising more study groups this year and maybe even organising a “homework club” every two weeks or so in the student lounge at Metsätalo. The idea there is that people could come hang out there, have some coffee, do their homework and study. Oscar, who’s in charge of this field has promised to organise excursions this year, too. We’re always on the look-out for feedback, so, everyone, please let us know if you have any ideas.
Another thing I want to focus on this year is just that, feedback. I’m hoping we’ll be able to develop a working feedback system. We want to know what SUB members think, want and need. Without them we are nothing, and I for one am just dying to know what more we can do to make the time here at the University worthwhile. We started this process already with the questionnaire and will be bugging everybody with a few more of that kind during the course of the year.
What expectations in general do you have for your term and what directions will we see you navigating the SUBmarine?
I want to continue on building strong traditions for SUB. I believe traditions are a necessity for a community. Of course that doesn’t mean we can’t try out new stuff as well. I also want to create more structure in SUB, especially when it comes to the board. It’s essential we reflect on what we do and work systematically. To help this we have some new practices when it comes to meetings. Meeting times will become more regular and we’ll go over all the different fields in every second meeting to get a clear picture of what’s happening and what needs to be worked on. I hope this enables us to react to any possible problems.
You are immensely active in different student committees. Now with the presidency in your hands as well, how do you plan to give each post the attention they deserve? Presidency first, right?
SUB comes first, that’s a given. I have a lot of meetings every week, but luckily I also have a very capable vice-president. Toni can certainly give me a hand if I feel like I have too much on my plate at a given time. I’ve also left a few committees and organisations behind so I can give my dear SUB all the attention it deserves.
As a kind of a Devil’s advocate question, why do we need a student organization in the first place? Doesn’t HYY do a good enough job?
HYY does a wonderful job in many aspects. However the HYY board is very busy as it is and all the committees in the student union would not be enough to do everything. It’s very important to have smaller, more intimate communities and organisations within HYY. Not only can they report on subject or faculty related problems to HYY, they also provide a valid means of communication to the University. Lecturers, professors and staff can communicate with a larger group of students through subject organisations.
We mustn’t forget the importance of organizations in terms of new students either. Tutors do an awesome job, but for the new freshmen to really be able to feel like they belong to a community that is University students we really need the help of a smaller scale organization. How many of you feel like HYY is as close to you as SUB is?
What kind of possibilities do you see for SUB in promoting the cause of its members? How would you sum up that cause in the first place? Are there things we should keep our eyes open for?
We need to start building closer relations to the staff. Regular meetings between the staff and members of the board need to be started and we need to keep a closer eye on everything going on in the faculty and Uni.
I can’t really think of one specific thing that would be our biggest challenge this coming year, apart from the degree structure reform.
Finally, who is your leadership idol? Putin, Clinton, Mugabe? Or can we just agree that we’ll call you the Iron Lady from now on?
I guess I’ll have to go with Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake! Or pulla!
Did you really think you had a choice in the previous question, Iron Lady?
BTSB thanks Anna for her responses and wishes her a successful spring!
-Esko Suoranta for Better Than Sliced Bread