Essi Lumme: Decisions on the future of students’ wellbeing and promotion of physical activity are made now!

Who needs the Finnish Student Sports Federation? Our President Essi Lumme launches a discussion on the future of OLL.

According to the results from the recent health and wellbeing survey, more and more university students are feeling unwell. The ill health is comprehensive – both mental and physical. At the same time, more and more student unions are considering where to make cuts to make the money stretch far enough. Sadly, promotion of physical activity is something that often ends up on the “things to cut” list.

Cutting down on physical activity often means saving on the OLL membership fee, i.e. cancelling the OLL membership. Cancellations reduce the scope of the Federation’s activities and our shared resources for promoting student sports and wellbeing. At the same time an increasing proportion of our reserves of energy are spent on justifying our existence. It is clear that no organisation can continue to work effectively for long with this setup.

So what is our role in society? Who needs us? While there are discussions of cancelling memberships on one side, on the other our work to improve university sports and universities on the move are bringing results. We are praised for the rewarding discussions with our member organisations, while it is difficult to motivate other member organisations to discuss sports services and increasing physical activity in studies. We are always needed in some part of the university world, but a couple of student unions and a few student sports organisations cannot keep the Federation alive forever.

Our shared responsibility towards students

According to the Universities Act and the Universities of Applied Sciences Act, the mission of the student unions is to promote students’ societal, social, and intellectual aspirations and those relating to studies and the status of students in society. Wellbeing and the ability to study, which are based on sufficient physical activity, are related to all these aspirations.

Luckily there is now an awareness of the situation, as we have begun to map out potential future membership models guided by the organisation strategy which was approved in 2020. We are writing up a report on potential membership models with the working group established for this purpose, and will present it at the General Assembly in the autumn. This year, we will discuss our Federation’s future with our member organisations. We hope that we can find a direction which will allow us to safeguard the advocacy work related to the physical activity of all university students in Finland.

It is important that students from as many universities as possible take part in deciding out future. That is why we must also include the student unions that are not our members in the discussion. Whether a member of OLL or not, we all have a shared responsibility towards students to reduce sitting and improve opportunities for physical activity.

Please take this opportunity to have an impact on the future of promoting students’ physical activity! Join us and tell us your views!

Essi Lumme

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