Communities have the power to tackle racism

Racism is also a problem in the university community. We are part of the wider Finnish society, where racist structures are at work. It is therefore important to be aware that racism also exists in our community and to be ready to address it when necessary. The University of Oulu is an international community. Hundreds of exchange students arrive here every year, and hundreds of new students start our international degree programmes every year. Our Finnish-language degree programmes also attract many people from different cultural backgrounds. So we have a wide diversity of ethnicities and identities in our community, which is a richness. When we get everyone involved and get to know people outside our own bubble, we get more out of the interaction and learn new things.


This year’s theme for Equality Week is tackling racism. It is a challenging topic in all its simplicity. It can be difficult for a white person to understand when someone is being racist, because racism is not always overtly hostile behaviour, but sometimes it is exclusion – systematic, structural exclusion from community and society. Communities therefore have a particular responsibility in how they involve and include people from different backgrounds.


The Student Union has a variety of ways in which we work to make the community accessible and inclusive for all our members. Our communication is bilingual and we aim to provide a variety of activities for all students. Information about events is available in two languages and interpretation is provided where necessary. Although our resources are limited, we are constantly striving to improve our activities. On the other hand, bilingualism does not in itself solve racist assumptions. Many people who speak Finnish fluently or even native speakers are used to being spoken to in English. Based on their appearance or name, it is assumed that they do not speak Finnish.


The Student Union has its own process for dealing with inappropriate behaviour and harassment. A harassment contact person is present at all our events, and we also train harassment contact persons in student organisations. This allows us to create safer spaces and events for all of us. In the long term, raising awareness of what behaviour is acceptable will create a more open culture and make it easier to participate in events and community activities. Creating a better and safer environment helps to prevent racism, which is also harassment. If you encounter or witness racism on campus or at student events, please contact us at or the university. The truth is that racism does occur in the university community, so we must also have channels to report racism and harassment that we encounter. Then incidents can be addressed.


So, in conclusion, I would like to say that please feel free to contact us about racism against you. The Student Union wants to make our community more open and to guarantee equal opportunities for all our members, regardless of their background, to participate in our activities.


The writer of the blog is OYY’s board member Aino Uitamo

Lisää kirjoituksia