Kannunvalajat is the social sciences students’ association at the University of Helsinki. Founded in 1945, it promotes the students’ interests during the whole span of studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences and beyond. Kannunvalajat also acts as a student organization for the entire Faculty, thus enhancing cooperation between students of different disciplines.
Comprising of around 3500 enthusiastic members, Kannunvalajat has a vivid history of raising up social discussion and bringing a fresh point of view to sometimes stagnant discussion. Since the student movements of the 70’s, Kannunvalajat has retained its interest on daily politics and spoken for students’ status in Finland.
Kannunvalajat serves its members as a promoter of students’ rights, good studying conditions and quality teaching at the University of Helsinki. It also organizes a large range of traditional social activities during the year and has its own quarterly magazine, Tutkain (some articles in Finnish, by contacting the magazine you can write there too!).
The executive organ of the association is the Board annually elected by the students of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The board consists of a chairman and eight to sixteen other members who each have a special field of responsibilities. The Board also represents the students’ voice in the Faculty’s decision-making mechanisms. Traditionally board members also take an active role in the Student Union and maintain good relations with partners from the many sectors of student and social life.
In addition to Kannunvalajat, who represent the faculty, there are fifteen disciplinal student associations in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Each association has an annually elected board, working to cover students’ needs in their Discipline. Tasks they’ve taken cover a wide field. Among other things, the associations organize parties and other social events, gather student feedback about lectures and represent students in the disciplinal and departmental decision-making.
Guidelines for a foreign student
Feeling lost in a new place and new school? Detached from your old social life? All alone in a strange, cold country?
And who are these quiet, reserved people, acting all weird around me? Why don’t they speak to me? And what the heck is it with those red overalls?
First of all, welcome to Kannunvalajat, new exchange, visiting or degree student! As you might have noticed, student associations are present everywhere in the student culture in Finland. Participating in an association’s events is a great part of one’s time as a student. It’s a way to get to know your study colleagues, have that fluffy feeling of belonging somewhere and just have plain good ol’ fun.
As a student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, you’re automatically considered our member. Therefore, you are warmly welcome to all the activities organized by us. No membership fees, no strings attached. Yay!
Besides acting for students’ behalf in a more bureaucratic manner, Kannunvalajat organizes events where to do that social thing! As a foreign student, you’re welcome to come along – we’re very Finnish, so partaking is the best way to get to know some great native people and experience our student culture during your stay in Finland.
Below you’ll find some highlights which characterize the vivid, traditional, sometimes dubious but always entertaining student culture in Kannunvalajat.
A traditional part of Finnish student culture is sitsit, or academic dinner parties. Sitsit can be said to consist of a several very integral parts: sitting, eating, drinking and singing. Depending wholly on the theme of the dinner parties, all this takes place either at, on, near or under the dinner table.
Student dinner parties are far from boring! Each association has its own unique traditions and songs, which are accompanied with toasts and downing of shots. Some people consider dinner parties the most fun part of Finnish student culture. In any case, sitsit is definitely something worth experiencing when studying in Finland.
Sitsit normally start around 7pm and go on late into the night. A flow of traditional songs and immemorable speeches is paced by a three-course meal. The dinner part is usually followed by an after-party. Normal dress code includes black suit/cocktail dress. This varies according to the nature of sitsit.
Kannunvalajat and departmental associations hold several sitsit during the year. Stay tuned on the mailing lists, because tickets for the most popular ones are sold in a flash! Sitsit sometimes have a theme, for example the preferred language or fancy dress-code. Anniversary dinner parties tend to be a bit more formal.
Of course there is also plenty of other social events besides sitsit, varying from movie nights to rave parties and from wild city races to panel discussions. Information about events will be given mainly through mailing lists.
Sure sign of a student is an overall covered with patches and colorful canvas patches. Members of Kannunvalajat wear their own traditional, red-colored overall. Overalls are used from time to time on parties and during general celebration. It’s fashionable to tune up one’s own by sewing patches of different student associations on it.
The biggest party of the year to wear one’s overall is the 1st of May. Students of different fields roam the centre of Helsinki and Kaivopuisto Park. Streets bustle with color and overalls, students heading for picnics or to other festivities. Other popular times for wearing one’s uniform are pub crawls, new student initiations and student events in general.
The Kannunvalajat overalls are available for order in the beginning of Autumn. They are cool, convenient and basically make you invulnerable (results may vary). If you want to buy an overall, follow the mailing lists on Autumn or ask the Kannunvalajat board.
Students of social sciences have their own cozy hangout space, Kuppala. It is used by the student associations to throw parties, organize meetings and hang-out evenings. About coming events in Kuppala you can learn by following the mailing lists.
Kuppala is located in the basement of one of the Faculty’s buildings (inner courtyard, Snellmaninkatu 17).
There are also four club rooms at the Uusi Ylioppilastalo (New Student Union House, Mannerheimintie 5). They are located in third floor, and are free to use for meetings, movie nights or band contests, for example. To organize your own event, get into contact with the Kannunvalajat board, hallitus (at) kannunvalajat.fi.
In addition to the disciplinal student associations there’s also a student association for international students, Committee of International Social Scientists at the University of Helsinki or in short, CISSI.
Kannunvalajat has an English-speaking mailing list, CISSI-news, which is used to channel information about coming events, although most emails in the “kaapelin-valajat”-mailing list are translated (below the Finnish text) as well. Announcements about sitsit, parties and courses are directed to the list. A must for every exchange student!
To subscribe CISSI-news list, send the following line to firstname.lastname@example.org leaving the subject field blank: subscribe CISSI-news. You will receive an authentication message with a text line, which you are supposed to send again. If you don’t receive this, make sure that your filters aren’t blocking the response!
To unsubscribe: send the same line, but substitute ‘subscribe’ with ‘unsubscribe’.
Ever wanted to organize something that none of our faculty’s organizations have thought of? Now you can: found a club!
Kannunvalajat is pleased to offer to its members (yes, you too!) a chance to organize activity outside our regular student organizations as well as between different organizations. Clubs must follow Kannunvalajat’s general principles, but other than that when it comes to the content of your club the sky is the limit (if even that!)
Kannunvalajat happily helps you in other than just financial ways with your club’s activities’ as well: reserving spaces, billing events and advertising your club. Every single application will be read and granting financial support will be considered case by case. Here’s a link to the whole protocol including the contact information.