Kylteri 02/23

A Love Letter to Student Activism

“Feeling, thinking, caring people – take action!” I found myself in the lobby of the main campus of the University of Helsinki after staring at the message scrawled on a piece of cardboard for many long minutes. Journalistic interest had driven me to explore the university that had just been taken over. Dozens of students were protesting the discriminatory cuts to the government budget that were being planned in the adjacent building. There was a feeling of change in the air: only a moment before, thousands of demonstrators had marched by the university for social and ecological justice. I imagined the calls for human rights echoing in the university lobby, distant but strengthened by the power of community.

There is something great and beautiful about civic activism taking the side of the suppressed. I might be an incurable romantic, because I think those in the most vulnerable positions in society should be defended together, without fear of the political hierarchy. However, standing in that lobby filled with slogans calling for humanity, the situation felt somehow rotten. How can a system built for the people – and the ones chosen to serve it – reject the idea of basic human dignity so firmly that justice has to be demanded with banners?

Political decisions are not about how we have to distribute resources, but about how we want to distribute them.

It’s wrong to think we can’t afford social justice. Political decisions are not about how we have to distribute resources, but about how we want to distribute them. About who these decisions are made for and the time frame in which we are willing to consider their consequences. Social philosopher JOHN RAWLS stated that we can’t build a fair and resilient society if its leaders only pursue their own interests and the interests of those from similar backgrounds. I bet Rawls wouldn’t be happy with many of the decisions made by our current government – for instance, their choice to listen more to interest organizations and communication agencies than to the scientific community regarding public finances1.

The articles in this issue of Kylteri have been written during September and October. In them, our editors examine what our society tends to value and offer alternatives to these defaults. We look at how people and their actions are regarded differently based on, for example, skin color, lifestyle, and income level. We’ll reveal Sixten Korkman's thoughts on the limits of economics, discuss how artists can set a price for their art, and offer suggestions on how to make the current ideal of perpetual productivity more humane. We’ll also devote space to examining the funding of educational institutions and the ways in which students can help shape them.

As you might notice, Kylteri is our way of taking action.


The author is the Editor-in-Chief of Kylteri magazine, who believes every human deserves to be treated with dignity. Her helpful tip for our government is that young voices should be listened to even outside of university lobbies hosting sit-ins: right now, the best way to start humanizing politics would be to oppose the Israeli genocide of Palestinians.


1. Yle, 4.6.2023, Yle perkasi hallitusneuvotteluissa kuultavien taustat.