Founded in 1960, Symposion (an Ancient Greek term which roughly translates as ”party”) is thus one of the oldest still active student associations at our University. It is also one of the liveliest: despite reaching a venerable age, the champion of long-dead languages refuses to grow old. Its primary function is to look after the interests of classics students (that is, students of Latin, Classical Greek, Modern Greek and Classical Archaeology), to promote cooperation between students and maintain contact with our teachers and the university staff, all the way to the people at the top. We at Symposion work in close collaboration with our professors and teachers of classics at the Department of World Cultures, something which gives students the opportunity to influence the curricula of studies and generally have their say in deciding how to improve learning conditions.
Of course, this is not to say that scientific problems should consume all of our time: there is plenty of room for a rich variety of activities. We party, we travel, we keep up with the city’s cultural life – no trial, agôn, of body or mind is alien to us, and there is always room for new people and new ideas.
That said, it is best to go through the official stuff first. The highest decision-making organ, the general assembly (yleiskokous), holds its meetings at least twice a year. In November, the executive committee (hallitus) for the next year is appointed and a general plan of activities decided upon, while in February the financial statements (tilinpäätös) as well as the report of the past year’s activities are approved and, every two years, the inspector’s (inspehtori) election is held. The presence of every member is quite desirable, if not necessary.
The backbone of our organisation is formed by meetings of the executive committee, where day-to-day business is run and new issues handled as they come up. These meetings, permeated – in theory at least – by strict formality and solemn ceremony, are arranged as often as is required; occasionally it might even happen that a full week goes by without one. In practice, the number of drinks as well as other environmental factors occasionally tend to somewhat dilute the severity of these events.
At the end of every week, at 2 p.m. or so on Friday afternoon, classics students gather in the coffee room of our faculty at Unioninkatu 40 A, 2nd floor, to have a cup of coffee – as well as a tasty cookie or two – at a nominal price and in excellent company. This ”coffee hour” acts as the reception of the student advisor (opintosihteeri), although anyone in need of advice is free to seek out and question him at other times too. The association’s collection of books is also to be found at the faculty’s premises: the bookcase serving this purpose contains a fairly agreeable amount of Latin literature, while slightly less Greek material. Loaning periods are, in practice, as long as the borrowing person’s conscience permits; let it be said, though, that the books should eventually be returned – preferably before graduation.
Following the Roman tradition, Symposion organises at least four sizeable parties every year: namely Ludi Romani in October, Saturnalia in December, Lupercalia in February, and Floralia in May. Any detailed information concerning the nature of these events is, unfortunately, practically impossible to gather, owing to the fact that cult members usually seem to suffer from severe memory loss the next day. Nevertheless, the careful studying of old calendars gives us, besides the names, a general description of each festival: the Ludi Romani, held in autumn, appear to act as some sort of initiation ceremony for new students, while the Saturnalia apparently brings comfort amidst the darkness and despair following the exams in the turn of November and December. Some rather feral descriptions survive from the Lupercalia of March, although the sacrifice of goats does not appear to have taken place so far. The spring period culminates in May’s Floralia, which does have something to do with flowers – as for the bees, one cannot say. Furthermore, festivities of the classical tradition have always tended to put emphasis on an abundance of food, quality activities, music and dancing. Even the immortals have been known to occasionally descend from Mount Olympus to grace our parties, especially the grander events.
Our shamelessly biased journal, the Rostra magazine, comes out four times a year. Rostra is an open forum: anyone is permitted to participate in its making in whichever way he or she sees fit. Pictures, photographs, stories or indeed any such material, regardless of the topic, is bound to make the editor happy; there is no need to be shy! Any material can be directly handed over to any member of the editorial staff, or emailed to the editor (see ’päätoimittaja’ under the ’Rostra’ link above).
The official notice board is situated at Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40 A, 2nd floor). The notice board is a good source of information about all classical activities: meetings, parties, excursions, exam results and generally everything worth knowing at the time. It pays to check the board regularly for new stuff. In addition, information can be found in electronic form on this webpage, and through our Facebook page. The executive committee can be reached through the chairperson (see ’puheenjohtaja’ under the ’hallitus’ link above).
Symposion is actively engaged in things going on within the Department of World Cultures. The student members of the Department’s executive group (johtoryhmä) are all active sympótai. Our opinions count: suggestions and critique from Symposion’s part have had a visible impact in the way the Department operates. Every spring, our association organises a ”teaching questionnaire” (opetuskysely), which is meant to provide information on what kind of teaching is desired for the next term; thanks to our teachers, the effects of the questionnaire usually become visible in the autumn. Furthermore, we keep in touch with other universities, associations and organisations, such as our colleagues at University of Turku with their Palladion and Taberna Latina of University of Jyväskylä.
Many a society, study circle and project group thrives alongside our association. Examples include the Suklaakerho for chocolate-lovers and Kino Symposion for movie goers. The Symposion membership fee only ever has to be paid once, and your membership stays with you till the afterlife. Welcome to join a motley crew! When not studying hard, we sing, dance, drink and generally have a jolly good time together. When darkness falls and you walk a lonely road, when works and days are all that seems to lie in the night ahead, look to your friends and they will set the sun ablaze once more.