The Finnish Student Sports Federation demands equality in university sports services

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The equality, accessibility and safety of university sports must be improved, the Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) demands at its General Assembly held in Tampere on the 8–9 November. The Federation, which is preparing for its 100th anniversary, is inviting university communities to join together to build an equal university on the move.

Equality has not been achieved on a national level as the quality of sports services varies from one university and one city to the next. The Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) expects the government to provide financial incentives for increasing physical activity in the higher education environment and developing the services. OLL also demands that the government call off the planned VAT increases on sports services.

“There should also be incentives to increase collaboration between universities so that students in blended learning, for instance, can use sports services flexibly in their hometown,” OLL President Emilia Junnila says.

From an individual student’s perspective an experience of inequality can have a significant impact on their wellbeing, and it can also lead to reduced physical activity. Often, physical activity is discussed from a normative starting point and the perspective of able-bodied people who fit the norm. In order to improve equality, accessibility must be understood in the broad sense of the word.

“When we talk about accessible services it’s not just about the height of thresholds or the slope of ramps, but it’s equally about how well rooms, instructions and ways of working are suited to neurodivergent students or students living with different kinds of sensory hypersensitivities,” says Mio Kortelainen, who was elected President for 2024.

OLL wants to work with the university communities to ensure that every student is able to have an active lifestyle without needing to worry about being subjected to discrimination or harassment. The Federation is currently collaborating with its partners in university sports to create principles for a safer space which it will invite universities to commit to. The principles will be published next year as part of the centenary celebrations, when OLL, which was founded in 1924, will be celebrating a hundred years of university sports.

“Creating safer spaces for all is closely linked to stopping all kinds of assumptions. We can’t know someone else’s experience, gender or ability, so it’s imperative that we are prepared to change our views on things,” President Junnila states.

More information:

Niko Peltokangas, Secretary General
+358 44 780 0210

Emilia Junnila, President
+358 44 780 0211

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