The numbers show that students in Trondheim are better off than in the rest of the country, but we cannot take this for granted.
SHoT figures showed a serious degree of loneliness on a national basis, with as many as 4 in 10 students having few or no friends in their studies. This number drops dramatically if you are involved in student volunteering. As representatives of the largest student unions in Trondheim, it is good to have the unity among our volunteers recognized. The numbers speak for themselves: Participating in student volunteer work leads to less loneliness and better mental health. So we must work to ensure that more students participate in the future as well. Then we need better framework conditions for student volunteering. Both politicians and educational institutions have a responsibility here.
The Volunteering Group is a collective forum for student volunteering in Trondheim and consists of, among others, the Assembly Leader, ISFiT Chair, UKE Chair, NTNUI Leader, Student Parliament Learning Environment Officer, Student Parliament Leader of DMMH, External Member of BISO, Chair Calligraphy unions at HF&SU and the president of calligraphy unions at Gløsaugen, as well as a representative from technical student organizations.
First, the land needs of volunteers must be taken seriously. In working on campus development, NTNU must demonstrate a willingness to allocate sufficient office space for all line associations. Within two years of the coronavirus pandemic, many people have realized how important it is to have a community. Association offices, workshops, and volunteer work spaces provide the opportunity for volunteers and members to meet over a cup of coffee and two waffle hearts. Perhaps most importantly, you always find someone to talk to when you need it.
Many associations do not belong to a faculty, and are in danger of not expressing their opinion on the distribution of land. Made up of 450 members from all over the world, technical student organizations are a unique offering that enables students to put theory into practice. If it is weakened, there are no alternatives that provide the same experience. By giving all student unions a separate office and workspace on campus, NTNU will ensure that student volunteering is maintained in Trondheim.
In the campus group plan, backfill plans were included in Høgskoledalen, popularly known as Death Valley. NTNU wants to implement this in two stages. This will have significant negative consequences for student volunteering, particularly UKA and NTNUI. Dödens dal is used for regular training and self-organized activities for over 1,000 students. The valley is also a major UKA hub, and a beacon of student culture without equal. During UKA-21, more than 500 volunteers worked in the valley to accommodate more than 30,000 students.
A two-stage filling will significantly reduce activity in the valley. With the first phase of mobilization planned, UKA will not be able to properly pitch its tent. If it is filled in two stages, you also do not know the time perspective of the last filling. This means that the sports facility cannot be upgraded, and the football field will be virtually unusable before the end of both phases. Therefore, the municipality, NTNU and Sit must ensure that the mobilization process is carried out in one stage.
Last but not least, it is absolutely essential that the city’s major social actors ensure that the Studentersamfundet development is fully funded. Today’s building was built with a space for only 1,000 students. With the new building, the ambition is to be able to accommodate 4,000 visitors. This corresponds to 10% of all Trondheim students – regardless of the institution of study – every day. It will also make space for more than 1,000 additional volunteers at the association and at ISFiT and UKA festivals.
The numbers show that students in Trondheim are better off than in the rest of the country, but we cannot take this for granted. Many students are still out of student volunteering, and are struggling to find their place. For a generation characterized by infection control, lockdown, and loneliness, it will be critical to reverse negative trends in student well-being. Now we need the municipality, educational institutions and other social actors to come out on top and tackle this challenge. If volunteering is to grow, the volunteer room must grow first.
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”