The hard-working and busy student council, the institute of Estonian and general linguistics

The student representatives are good, sharp, versatile students to whom you can turn with your thoughts and worries at any time and throughout your studies, unlike the tutors. No topic is too small, from making the study buildings cosier to larger issues with the organisation of studies. But how does a student council work and function? We asked the student representatives of the Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics.

The Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics Student Council has four enthusiastic representatives – Marin, Marili, Karmen and Agnes. As students from different study levels, they have a better overview of what’s going on in their specific study level, but they haven’t really divided the activities up amongst themselves. “There’s a certain power and charm in working together,” they say.

They created a good relationship with the students of their institute already at the beginning of the academic year when contact teaching was still allowed, and they could organise get-togethers. These events created a good base for active communicating during the current covid restrictions, where we have to settle for talking via social media, Zoom and mailing lists. But the students’ concerns are also discovered through surveys, and sometimes some aspects are brought to their attention by the Board of UTSU or the institute council.

One concern this academic year was the break room and the opportunities for preparing food.

“Our institute had a long-time problem that there was no break room, but when they started renovating the faculty’s student corner, we had to find a solution. We got the opportunity to temporarily use room 412, which we tried to adapt to the students’ needs,” they explained. The institute offered an electric kettle for the room, but the issue of the need for warm food during long days was still unsolved.

“It must’ve been Marin’s empty stomach that led to this thought,” they laugh. But they still took finding a solution seriously and used the opportunity to receive support from the student union’s development fund for carrying out student projects.

The whole process moved quickly. Together they filled out an application during a meeting, which was quickly approved, and within a few days, the suitable microwave had been chosen.

“We didn’t actually expect or hope that this could really work. We chose [the microwave], and it was delivered to the institute. The same day, tiny Agnes’ big and strong co-students helped carry it to the fourth floor. The students were excited when they found out about it,” the representatives say with pride. Sadly, pretty soon after that, studies moved back to distance learning, but they are certain that the microwave will definitely be used a lot during contact learning.

For a student council to work, they find motivation, consistency, honesty and direct communications to be the most important parts.

“But let’s be honest, everything starts from a single person’s own motivation. Luckily all our interests meet each other, and thus our collaboration is better as well. Like usually in teamwork, we also have our ups and downs sometimes, but we manage to solve them amongst ourselves quickly,” they find collectively.

They mainly meet each other right before the council meetings, but there are also unplanned meetings for urgent issues. The meetings are protocolled to stay on track with their activities and also to analyse, what could be done better and how.

For the future student representatives, they say that specifically, what’s important is the motivation and interest in what’s happening at the university, but also solving shortcomings.

“The skills and knowledge come with time, and you shouldn’t be scared in the beginning because of it,” they say encouragingly. “Don’t be afraid.  [as Estonians say,] When you see a fault to criticise, come and help out with it instead! You’ll learn to know the university better and to stand for the rights of your fellow students. At the same time, the student representative’s work is also self-development, for example, on how to express your opinions and to take your co-students into account.”

They wish courage and moxie in solving problems for their institute’s student representative candidates.

“The student representatives have, in particular, the opportunity to find larger visibility for the institute’s problems and the solutions. Sadly, our institute’s students’ activity is fairly low, but things will only change if we work for it,” they urge their students.

Read more about UTSU

Workgroups: communication

workgroups: study quality

Workgroups: International Students’ Workgroup

Workgroups: development group

What do the representatives do – standing for rights, for real!

What do the representatives do – how to be visible?

UTSU’s structure