Dear guests, management, staff and, not least, students
When Jens Ringsmose and Anni Søborg asked if I would give this year's student speech, I was very proud at first, but I must admit that I was then also struck by a certain nervousness, as I feel it is a great responsibility to speak on behalf of all students at a large event such as this. I haven't attended the Annual Celebration before, but I have been very much looking forward to today, and I am looking forward to experiencing and sharing this evening with all of you.
The first time I visited SDU was in 2017 for the uniTEST - because I am also one of those who got in via quota 2. It helped me believe that university could be a place for me too. A place where I could pursue my academic ambitions, ideas and dreams. At the time, I didn't know how much I would gain personally from studying at SDU.
I remember arriving at this huge building, a little bit confused. I didn't quite know where to park or how to get around. The first thing I noticed about SDU was its size. I almost felt like I had entered a small town where Gydehutten was the main street, the different departments were the suburbs and the students and staff were the residents. Since I started on my study programme, I have become much better at navigating here. As well as learning how to find my way around here, I've also become better at navigating the academic world. Seeing the connection between the subjects, transferring theory to practice and understanding how much I can use research and the academic craft.
SDU is helping to create many opportunities for us as students. We can live out different dreams: study, be entrepreneurs, try out different roles, be part of associations and organisations that contribute to communities large and small. The University is very good at setting up frameworks in which we students can join communities. We can engage in academic, interdisciplinary and social communities, and this is a sign of the great amity that SDU accommodates. Communities are particularly important in times like these, so that we can help each other and ourselves.
I love walking down Gydehutten, where I meet many different people. But despite different areas of interest and expression, we all have the right and space to be here at SDU, and I am proud of that. SDU will always mean a great deal to me.
A lot has happened since I started at SDU. Especially in the world outside SDU. We had just come through the COVID-19 pandemic when the war between Russia and Ukraine began, which has subsequently led to an economic crisis in which prices are rising. As students, we definitely feel that too.
New research shows that young people's mental health is under severe pressure. We students are under pressure like never before. A pressure from which not even I have been able to escape. I've felt it first hand, and I know from talking to my fellow students that I'm not alone. For example, the Youth Welfare Council reports that 28% of young people have sought medical help or have been on sick leave from education due to stress.
This is not new. It has been going this way for a long time, and I am not the first student to point it out. That challenge has been emphasised in many previous student speeches as well. And you wonder when the politicians at Christiansborg will start following the real challenges of young people's well-being.
The proposal for the new master's reform is just the latest example of political initiatives in which everything still has to be achieved but in half the time. This worries me, because will there be time for contemplation, study-related activities and just being human? Will the quality of our education be compromised?
On top of this, the election campaign is underway. Key issues, speaker debates, features, priorities. There are many things we have to relate to. The quality of education must not be lost in the haste to make savings.
With so much going on in the world and in society, it's important that there's a place where we students can safely find help to navigate. We can find that here at SDU. When the world seems like a storm and we are thrown into deep water, SDU is a safe haven where we can seek shelter. If we get lost, we can seek out lecturers for guidance, fellow students for sparring and take advantage of all the offers and opportunities SDU has to offer. You can feel that SDU wants the best for its students, and there is help to be found when we look up and reach out.
We are all part of the great community called SDU, and we must use, cultivate, cherish and enjoy it.
Thank you for your attention.