The speech of OYY's Chair of the Board Suvi-Anna Salminen in the University opening ceremony

Opening ceremony of the University of Oulu was on Monday 4th of September. OYY’s Chair of the Board, Suvi-Anna Salminen, was invited to give a speech to the audience.

We are currently living a strange and even a bit scary time. We live in a time, where decision making processes might be based on handpicked opinions and conspiracy theories. We live in a time, where the limits of freedom of speech are stretched out based on freedom of opinion, but the responsibility that comes with it is forgotten at the same time. We live in a time, where it seems that nobody fights against hateful speech. The time we live in is dark, but not hopeless.

During these dark times the importance of universities as the cradle of education and science is even more important than before. Based on the Universities Act one of the universities’ tasks is to raise students to serve the country and civilisation. The Student Union takes part in this process as well by raising students to become active and critical citizens. In the lecture halls of this university we increase our understanding about the world and its various phenomena and grow up to become part of this diverse society. Scientific worldview and education together are the best medicine against the recession.

Dear listeners, we are a multidisciplinary and diverse university. The learning process here doesn’t happen only at the lecture halls and the library. Daily meetings with people from different backgrounds widen our understanding of the world and humanity. That is why it is extremely important to respect each other, because this respect follows us beyond the university doors and academic bubble. 

It is also very important to stop and review our own actions as well. Are we really as inclusive as we think we are and do we really take all the members of our community in consideration? Our community consists of international students, members of LGBT group, and neuro-diverse people. Minorities often face discrimination and prejudice, and that is something we have to interfere as a community. It is important that we all have the possibility to influence matters that concern us, whether it is the decision making process or our surroundings. 

The new students that now walk through the 2T-doors for the first time have spent their teenage years in the middle of an unstable world. Here at the university they will get the necessary knowledge and skills to make this world and this university a bit better place piece by piece. A new student can be an abiturient from Lyska, an international master’s degree student or a person from the countryside, who wants to change the field they work in. We can offer to all of them an experience that they, their dreams and their hopes are important and heard. I hope that the university is a safe space for all of them to grow and that here they can enhance their own path and aim towards their dreams. 

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