Media & archives

15 myths about the Old Student House and music corporations

15.01.2014
“The Student Union is evicting the music corporations from the Old Student House.”

HYY has reserved one evening per week for its own use and offered it to be used for the music corporations’ rehearsals free of charge. In addition, HYY has offered to pay for other rehearsal facilities for the corporations, or other forms of support they could require for their rehearsals. One option would be for the corporations to rent the Music Hall from Royal Restaurants with HYY subsidizing most of the rent.

From the beginning of the year 2014, the Old Student House is has been rented out to Royal Restaurants. HYY asked the music corporations to confirm their departure already in the autumn of 2013. As they did not respond and we have not been able to agree on the use of Music Hall – the music corporations have not even expressed a desire to use the one evening per week being offered – HYY had to apply for an eviction order from the court, so that the facilities of the Old Student House can be vacated and handed to the tenant's use in accordance with the signed agreement.

”Membership fees and automatic membership impose obligations on student unions to foster culture.”

According to the Universities Act (2009): ”The purpose of the student union is to act as a link between its members and to promote their societal, social and intellectual aspirations and their aspirations regarding studies and students' status in society.” There is no mention of culture in the Universities Act. Despite this, HYY wishes to support various cultural organisations, through both financial subsidies, and providing facilities.

“HYY has marched out of the negotiations and forbidden Royal Restaurants to rent facilities for music corporations.”

HYY was not invited to the latest meeting with Royal Restaurants convened by the music corporations. HYY has in no way forbidden Royal Restaurants to rent facilities for music corporations. HYY cannot, and does not want to, dictate to its tenant how to carry out its business outside the framework agreed to in the lease.

The most recent option discussed in the negotiations has been one in which the music corporations could rehearse at the Old Student House four times a week, and agree to be subject to certain terms and conditions regarding, among other things, cancellations. During the time of the proposal, there were so few prearranged cancellations that music corporations could have rehearsed at the Old Student House during most of their rehearsals. Music corporations have already occasionally rehearsed in other facilities, if other events held at the Old Student House have required them to do so. The latest proposal was not approved by music corporations.

“HYY has refused to even investigate the possibility that music culture would remain at the Old Student House.”

The Student Union has been ready to book one rehearsal slot per week in the Music Hall for music corporations from the very beginning. If the music corporations and Royal reach an agreement on more time-slots, HYY is ready to participate in the incurred costs. 

”The Student Union no longer supports culture.”

Dozens of cultural organisations operate within HYY, for which the Student Union provides support, both in the form of facilities and funds. Cultural organisations engage in, for example, photography, folk dance, techno culture and theatre. Besides the music organisations, several other choirs also operate within the Student Union. HYY's organisations can be found here. For the year 2014, the Student Union has reserved EUR 60,000 solely to pay for the facility costs of YL Male Voice Choir, Helsinki University Symphony Orchestra,
Akademiska Sångföreningen and Akademiska Damkören Lyran.

“The Old Student House was built for music corporations, with funds collected by them.”

The student house was built so that all students could use the building and benefit from it. Among other things, the Student Union's library, HYY's Central Office and a cultural centre have operated in the building. The building was constructed almost entirely with money borrowed by the Student Union. 15% of the construction costs have been collected through donations. The funds were collected for the building itself, and not directed to any specific organisation using it.

“The Old Student House was not built for business purposes.”

Restaurant business has been practised at the student house for more than 140 years. For most of these years, the restaurant has been managed by a private business unrelated to the Student Union. In recent years, restaurant business in the Old Student House has been run by HYY Restaurants, and corporate events, seminars, academic celebrations, comedy festival and Summer Heat club have been organised in the building. It is unlikely that the type of events held at the Old Student House will change due to the new tenant, Royal Restaurants.

”The Old Student House will become a former student house.”

The Student Union is not discontinuing the rehearsal opportunities for music corporations at the Old Student House, but the music corporations have the right to rehearse at the Music Hall at least once a week. The Student Theatre also rehearses and performs in the building. Additionally, among other things, HYY's anniversary parties will continue to be held in the building. The Old Student House is also known for “Vanhan Kuppila” and the scene of various discussions of academic politics and festivities. These will continue to be part of the building.

“Students finance business operations through their membership fee.”

HYY engages in business operations only in order to finance the student union’s activities necessary to ensure its advocacy work, and recreational opportunities for its members. Membership fees are not under any circumstances used for business purposes. Business revenues account for about ⅔ of the costs of HYY's operating funds (ie. student activities). HYY's membership fee is one of the lowest among the Finnish student unions.

“The Student Union destroys the recreational opportunities of its members.”

According to information received by HYY from the music corporations, 42% of the music corporations’ members (a total of less than 140 people from over 27,000 HYY members) are current members of HYY. A total number of members in music corporations accounts to approximately one per cent of HYY's members.

HYY has approximately 250 organisations, including subject and faculty organisations, student nations, societal organisations and recreational organisations. All of these provide various activities for HYY's members, depending on their own preferences. The Student Union is still willing to support the music corporations which have rehearsed at the Old Student House.

“But the music corporations only want to use the Music Hall, this should not affect the rest of the building.”

When the Music Hall is in use, the Old Student House cannot be rented for occasions which need the entire building. If it is impossible to organise major events in the building on four days per week, it is understandable that it will interfere with business operations. 

”The Student Union is greedy.”

Revenue from business is used for the student union’s activities. If business revenue is reduced, the student union will have to cut its activities or increase its membership fee, which has an effect on the wallet of every single student. The Student Union has already had to increase its membership fee, and reduce human resources, and the facilities used by member organisations. HYY should also make ensure the wellbeing of future university students, and that there will be funds to take care of future students as well.

“HYY is the richest student union in the world. Surely it has enough money to fund the music corporations.”

Compared to other student unions globally, HYY's property is significant. The Student Union's annual budget is indeed relatively high. HYY's assets, however, consist mainly of properties, and the majority of them are used by the students and therefore do not generate income. The maintenance of old properties, such as the Old and New Student Houses is expensive, and they also have to be continuously renovated. Therefore, maintaining operations in these properties require a great deal of money. HYY also has a very wide range of activities in itself. The funds are spent, for example, on the operating grants and facilities for organisations, maintenance of child care services, student magazines, free legal aid to students, and staff salaries.

“Replacing facilities offered to music corporations are not suitable for music rehearsals.”

According to an evaluation of an engineering company specialised in acoustics, the Mechelinia Hall that is being offered to the music corporations is suitable for music rehearsals. HYY has also been ready to financially support the rent of other rehearsal facilities, that would be more appealing for the corporations. The music corporations have not been willing to discuss any suitable rehearsal facilities other than the Music Hall itself.

”The Student Union has treated the corporations outrageously.”

It is understandable that the decrease in free rehearsal hours in the Music Hall is unfortunate for the music corporations, and HYY apologises for the caused inconvenience. HYY has prepared the matter in accordance with its regulations and normal procedures. The music corporations have been informed about the matter in accordance with the regulations and in the same manner as HYY informs its other organisations about similar decisions. In addition, the representatives of HYY Board have been ready and willing to meet the representatives of the music corporations whenever they have so requested. The music corporations, on the other hand, have threatened the board members with personal liability to pay for compensations and, among other things, hinted at difficulties in their future employment because of this decision.