TUO’s Chair Blogs: How to become a chairperson, part 1


Hi again!

A lot has happened since my last blog post. Get-togethers, meetings, trainings, choosing representatives… But before I tell you about all that, I thought I’d go back in time for a moment and let you know how I decided to pursue the post of Student Union TUO’s chairperson.

Like I wrote in my last post, in 2018, I was a member of the student union board. I was responsible for tutoring – though, of course, board members also work with all the other things I wrote about last time. When I applied to the board I had certainly not found out about everything the post entailed. Someone had told me it’s not all about tutoring, but I thought that it wouldn’t matter. I wanted to advance tutoring so eagerly that a couple of little things to do on the side wouldn’t really matter.

I had certainly not found out about everything the post entailed.

Very soon, I realized that actually, as a board member, you’re meant to be making an impact on EVERYTHING that’s to do with student life. Not just in Turku University of Applied Sciences, but also in the city of Turku and even in Finland as a whole.

I wanted to have responsibility, and when it came to tutoring, I was ready to work and make tough decisions, I was after all a tutor myself too. But all the other responsibilities were too much, too fast. If I wanted to do a good job within the student union, I’d have to find out about all different sorts of things, most of which I had no previous experience of, and if I did, it was from ages ago and all my previous knowledge would be past its expiration date by know… And, at the same time, I’d still have to advance my studies.

After getting past the initial panic, I started thinking it would be all right. I would do my best and be a part of a student union board that makes good decisions. I was sure that I’d learn everything. A student union as big as this one was certain to have good practices in place to help new board members with their duties.

TUO used to have such practices, for sure. It was just that unfortunately, when I started as a member of the board, there had just been plenty of personnel changes within TUO, so the training for new board members had suffered. What’s more, there were plenty of big organizational changes coming up. Right away, there was a lot of work to do for both the personnel and the board.

It wasn’t all bad: we all helped each other and formed strong relationships within the board. For example, I made friends with my future vice chairperson Miro Toiviainen. Now, here is the reason why I’m the chairperson of TUO today…

My year as a board member almost through, I started thinking about the next year. I didn’t think board membership suited me all that well, since I felt I wanted to have a say on the student union’s biggest issues. I wanted more responsibility.

I’ve always had lots of ideas. During the year, alone and together with others, I had been thinking about how the student union could be improved and the work made easier. As the chairperson of the board, I could both have a say and put ideas into practice, but it had been a long year, and I didn’t feel I had what it takes to apply for the board again right away. I didn’t even consider running for the post of the chairperson of the representative body, thinking that I wouldn’t make it since I had no experience as a member of the representative body yet. I thought my time in TUO would, for the large part, be over.

What else could I do? Focusing on my studies seemed like a good idea, I had after all fallen a bit behind during the year. But just when I had decided to aim for a smaller role within the student union and only run for the representative body, Miro popped up with a new idea. He wanted to keep working for TUO, but the board didn’t interest him anymore either. So how about the two of us we tried to run for the chairpersons of the representative body? We agreed on a lot of the issues within the student union, so working together would be nice and easy.

My answer was that no, I don’t think I will pursue that.

My answer was that no, I don’t think I will pursue that. I had gotten used to the idea of focusing on my studies only, and in my opinion, being a member of the representative body is a very important task too. If I were elected for the representative body, that would be quite enough for me.

Miro didn’t give up right away but started talking about the things we could achieve if we were chosen for the chairpersons. We could have a say in all those problems we had noticed, and make sure they’ll be fixed. We could help TUO become even better. And besides, Miro wouldn’t run for the post alone.

I promised to consider it. First, I decided to find out exactly what being a chairperson of the representative body entails. I didn’t want to be surprised anymore! I asked everybody who had any information on the issue, and after hearing plenty of info, I made my decision. I tried to approach the thought very carefully still, though, because it would be a long way before I would be chosen as the chairperson for real. First, I would have to get enough votes to be elected for the representative body, and then, I would have to win the trust of the other board members to be chosen to lead… But more about that in my next post.

Until then, take care!

– Jose