BTSB interviewed Niko Haussila, the newly-elected SUB presidents, on his election, that other election, the direction SUB will take under his rule, and more!
Niko, congratulations on your recent election as President of SUB! What are the feels right now at the start of your presidential 2017?
It still doesn’t feel entirely real yet, since the new board hasn’t gotten properly started yet and we’re still waiting on our first meeting. I feel like I have a decent idea of what I’m expected to do as president, but it’s impossible to know what the next year is really going to be like, so it’s all a big unknown.
Now, you had quite the journey to become elected from among three candidates, one of them the incumbent president. How would you describe the race? Why do you think you managed the feat?
It was a pretty tense race because for the first time that I’ve seen, the candidates were announced in advance instead of declaring at the election meeting. Knowing what you’re up against relieves a bit of the uncertainty, but it definitely also introduced a different kind of nervousness for the run-up. The election process at the meeting was also a lot more structured, with individual interviews of the candidates using previously prepared questions. I don’t always do very well in those situations, so I was pretty worried about that going in.
You could tell that right up until the results were announced, nobody really had any idea how it was going to go, so there was a lot of excitement in the air at the meeting. I did my best to prepare some convincing arguments in advance, and I feel that really helped me to build a case in the interview, relying mostly on my wide experience as a three-year board member and the financial knowhow I’ve gained from my previous work as treasurer.
One might think that ousting the sitting president signals a measure of discontent in the voters or possibly a divided governing body from the previous term. How would you comment?
I absolutely disagree. Even going into the election, I felt like he might easily win on the strength of his popularity, because everyone agrees he did a fantastic job last year, but at the same time I thought his status as the sitting president might actually be a big handicap for him. There’s been a pretty strong tradition of one-term presidencies at SUB, and that definitely worked in my favor at the election meeting. I can’t comment on where the votes went, but in terms of morale there was never any kind of split in last year’s board, the team spirit has been amazing and I feel like that really showed in our level of activity last year.
Moving on from this election to digress into another, I understand that you have a US-FIN dual-citizenship and would very much like to hear your views on Trump’s looming inauguration.
Well, I don’t want to sound too alarmist, but I feel like now would be an excellent time to start living like every day could be your last. Seriously though, while I do feel like ever since Election Day there’s been barely any breaks in the bad news from across the water, I’m hopeful that we’ll only need to deal with four years of this nonsense, and maybe the long-term damage won’t be quite as devastating as we now fear. That said, I don’t think anyone has a very strong sense of where all of this is going, least of all the man himself. We’ll just have to wait and see.
What kind of an experience was following the US election for you?
Nerve-racking. Unfortunately, and against my better judgment, I can’t help but follow US elections very closely, and this last one was not easy on the spirit. I never really thought Trump would win, but the constant flow of bad news for Hillary was still discouraging to watch. The Wikileaks thing was awful, but following the whole Trump sexual harrassment scandal, I felt like Hillary pretty much had it in the bag.
Then Comey happened, and suddenly everything changed, and for the first time all year I started feeling like there was a real danger Trump might win. I still believed Hillary would probably beat him, and it was a close-run thing, but there you go. I think she basically lost the election over a vague FBI announcement that was missing all the essential information and eventually proved to be nothing at all. Just incredible.
On a lighter note, my sources indicate that you are quite the whiz in kitchen. Could you tell our readers a bit more about this side of yours?
I don’t want to make too much of it, Master Chef I ain’t, but I do like to cook. I enjoy good food a great deal, and I feel like being able to make it at home is one cornerstone of a happy life. I like cooking lots of different types of food and trying out new recipes, anything from Italian to Chinese. Lately I’ve also been getting increasingly into making cocktails.
And what other things are you passionate about on your free time?
I’m very big on movies, and also keeping up with the best new TV series, which are in a kind of golden age lately. I also enjoy both computer and board games, and naturally books.
Let’s talk more about SUB and student life. First of all, what are your plans in general for the SUB-urban community?
I don’t really have any grand, radical vision for SUB, I think the past few years have been great for us and I’d very much like to keep that going. Mostly I’m thinking of focusing on making small procedural improvements here and there and introducing new ideas where they’re called for. It’s difficult to be more specific at this point, we’ll just have to see what the new year brings.
As we know, the university is still going through massive changes in administration, degree structures, and more. How is SUB planning to support its members through these changes? What concrete means do you see organizations having in making things easier for their members, old and new?
Our studies coordinators have and will be working hard to keep abreast of the changes that will affect our members, and guide our fellow English students through whatever transition process emerges. That said, there’s only so much we can do as a student organization. Some of our members are working with the staff to try to guide things in the right direction, but for the most part all we can do is wait for edicts on high and then try to figure out a response.
SUB has been fairly successful in promoting activities other than parties in the past few years with increased focus on, for example, sports, study groups, and working life orientation. What are the next steps on this front?
Just to keep it rolling first and foremost, and if we can do that, then build on the progress we’ve made. All of our various sectors have been doing a great job lately, and I absolutely want to keep that momentum and encourage each new board member to show initiative and use their creativity in the new year. Express yourselves!
As has been customary since times of yore, we went and photoshopped your likeness onto a blockbuster movie poster. Now, if you’re being completely honest, wouldn’t the Empire do a great job at providing peace and order for our SUB-galaxy? Or are you just one of those pesky rebels, a rogue one?
Don’t take this as a reflection of my politics, but I must admit that I’ve always had a bit of an affinity for the Empire. What can I say? They have cooler outfits and music, and it doesn’t get much cooler than Darth Vader.
Thank you so much Niko for these comments. We wish you a prosperous reign of no terror or tyranny whatsoever!