Jan Suortamo (left) and Tero Ahlgren (right) from Student Village West, Photo by Makoto Chiba
What are the tenant committees, why do they exist and what do they do? Only a few know what tenant committees are about and what are their main tasks and responsibilities. At the beginning of September, the boardmembers of the tenant committee Tero Ahlgren, Jan Suortamo from Student Village West and Marianna Petrova and Neea Leino from Aitiopaikka had a chat on what the committees bring to students living at TYS.
As long summer vacation has ended, a new academic year is now in full swing in Turku. Lots of new students coming from different cities and abroad have started their student life in Turku. To support and make these students’ life as enriching as possible, there is always a tenant committee around. A tenant committee is run by a board that has multiple members and a chairperson overseeing the whole picture. Almost in every Turku Student Village Foundation (TYS) housing location is a tenant comittee. Tenant committees give residents opportunity to for example affect the living quality in their location.
Each tenant committee has its own spirit
The major questions are what the tenant committees are about and how they are functioning. Currently, there are more than 18 student-housing locations in Turku. Student Village West and the newest tenant building Aitiopaikka are located just right next to the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. This allows the students to easily commute between the university and the Student Village West and Aitiopaikka on foot or by bike. Since there are many students living in both locations, the areas are lively and active with their own vibes.
“I feel like we are living in a small village with a good atmosphere and with good people. If you are interested in a new environment and meeting new people, this is the place to be,” Tero tells passionately.
As part of their work tasks, the tenant committees do different types of activities such as purchasing equipment needed for the shared spaces and the apartment blocks, managing committee budgets, and actively organizing get-together events for the residents and students living in the village.
Tenant committees frequently communicate with the Turku Student Village Foundation (TYS). They organize monthly Advisory Board meetings where chairpersons of tenant committees can discuss common needs and suggest their opinions and new ideas gotten from the residents to the TYS. The Advisory Board meetings are open for all boardmembers of different housing locations.
Diversity of activities play an important role
During the midsummer season last year, the Student Village West organized a summer event in cooperation with other tenant committees and TYS. They booked a big cottage in the island of Vepsä and the participating students got to enjoy the pure beauty of the Finnish summer.
“We organize various types of interesting events such as hiking to Kurjenrahka National Park to pick the mushrooms, ice-hole swimming, and board game night. Our tenant committee is full of different activities”, Jan explains mirthfully.
Jan added that these kinds of versatile events make the students and residents feel more united.
Yet it is difficult for the tenant committee members to know what kinds of events and activities suit the participants and therefore it is essential to test different types of activities regularly to find out what works and what does not.
“When we have ice cream night and Christmas party, we also offer some vegan food and different food options so that everyone living here can reach the events, enjoy and have a fun time with everyone,” Tero describes.
When it comes to the number of participants, there are more or less 18 people in every event. The number varies, and it depends on the type of the event the tenant committee offers. Game nights, for example are popular among the students where new games can be tried out or just enjoy each others company.
“I really like BBQ event that we held during summertime there were more than 50 people came to the event and it was so awesome,” Tero adds.
Furthermore, typical Finnish-like activities such as mushroom picking, hiking in the forest and blueberry picking are popular events among exchange students who cannot have the same experience in their home countries. The events are open for those living in the housing area e.g. in Student Village West.
“We are here for the students”
The tenant committees are very down to earth and trying their best to make the student community lively and versatile. The tenant committees have an important role to offer the opportunities for the residents to gather up regularly and to meet new people. When students know who is living next door, they can easily communicate and help each other out.
“Socializing part is the biggest value that tenant committee brings to the students’ life,” Jan explains enthusiastically.
Both tenant committees are strongly hoping that these committees stay alive, more active and support the students’ life for years to come.
You can find more detailed information about TYS and each tenant committee from here!