Impressive student metropolis
Alviina Alametsä is a student from Helsinki with a passion for participation. She was involved in the World Student Capital Network of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) with responsibilities related to lobbying for student rights. Currently, Alviina is a member of the Board of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) with special responsibilities for international lobbying for student rights and development work. Spreading the word about the greatness of Finland and Helsinki via SYL is part of Alviina’s life.
More urban Helsinki
Chairing the World Student Capital was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences in Alviina’s career in student lobbying. The World Student Capital Network consists of the student unions of the Helsinki metropolitan area and represents almost 100,000 higher education students. The network carries out research, issues statements, and aims to influence matters in order to make Helsinki the world’s best metropolis for students.
”When I became the Chair, I decided to do this in a big way. We had many enthusiastic people and we were able to use the networks.”
The highlight of my term as the Chair came in December 2015, when the ”Opiskelijan kaupunki” (Students’ City) research was published with the focus on the need for affordable student housing. The response has been good: after the publication of the study, the City of Helsinki announced plans to build almost 900 new student dwellings.
Lack of affordable housing is a real challenge in Helsinki. ”Today, average students are spending 70% of their income on housing, which really is too much. In addition, international specialists are not staying in Finland after completing their studies, partly because of property prices. Accomplished people should be able to afford to live in Helsinki and use the services of the city.”
Alviina also sees room for improvement in more compact building in the city.
”We should be even more ambitious. Models for higher and more compact building do exist. We must not destroy the environment when building housing.”
Equal opportunities to make a difference
”The environment in Helsinki is clean and the air is fresh. There are conservation areas for relaxing, and art and culture to enjoy in the city. The city has positive energy, and the opportunities for developing entrepreneurship are excellent.” These are Helsinki’s key assets and, according to Alviina, they could be developed further.
Having moved to Helsinki from the small town of Jokela, Alviina was surprised by the opportunities available in the city for making a difference and getting involved in interesting organisations. ”The opportunities in small towns are nothing like this.”
What makes Finland and Helsinki great are the genuinely equal opportunities that people have for making a difference. If you wish, you can get involved in influencing matters regardless of your background.
Alviina has an encouraging example from around the time she moved to Helsinki. Some years ago, and much to the annoyance of many young people, the city had knocked down the Brahenkenttä skate park.
In 2013, as one of her very first proposals in the Environment Committee of the City of Helsinki, Alviina worked with alternate member Vesa Korkkula to show that the noise impact of a skate park is lesser than hab previously been thought. They expressed a wish to restore the skate park and make it permanent. In the end, both the Environment Committee and Public Works Committee approved the matter.
Some time later, Alviina was walking in Kallio in Helsinki and heard the sounds of skateboarding. “The skate park was bursting with activity. It was great to see the practical impacts of municipal politics. Instead of always saying no, we should be enabling young people and their free-time activities.”
Text: Laura Kylliäinen
Image: Sebastian Trzaska
Alviina Alametsä nominated Leena Pihlajamäki as a future maker of Helsinki.