“Bruce Springsteen once sang ‘They spend their lives waiting for a moment that just didn’t come’. Don’t let that be you. Don’t waste your time waiting. Enjoy being a student, engage in activities, participate in your community, and make the most out of your time here at the University of Stavanger”, Roy Steffensen said to the thousands of students who had gathered in the marquee for the semester opening ceremony.
On August 13th, more than 12,000 students, including approximately 1,400 overseas students from 74 nations, embarked on a new academic year at the University of Stavanger.
Before the official ceremony took place, the Fadder festival team organized what turned out to be a world-record 680 meter long breakfast table on campus. A total of 5000 people were invited to enjoy their morning meal at this event.
Steffensen, who is the chair of the Standing Committee on Education and Research in the Norwegian Parliament, expressed his strong belief in today’s young generation:
“Your generation has everything it takes to lead us to toward a brighter future. I’m confident that you can make the right choices. You are well educated, you’ve been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures, and you have access to all kinds of information at a push of a button”, he said.
Faith in the young
Steffensen continued by declaring that since he has such great faith in the young people of today, he would refrain from handing out practical advice on how to succeed in life.
He did have one thing to ask, though:
“Have faith in democracy! Societies are built through democracy. Democracy is full of compromises. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In our use of social media, the trend now is to only search and listen to people we already agree with. Be sure to also seek out the arguments of those who disagree with you.”
Steffensen had one final request for the students in the audience:
“When you finish your last exam, I hope you will decide to settle down in this region, because we need the skills you acquire here at the university”.
In her speech, UiS rector Marit Boyesen highlighted the university’s success in transferring knowledge from the petroleum field to other fields, such as the health sector and environmentally-friendly energy solutions.
“This has been made possible thanks to creative researchers and students who work hard to bring forward new and innovative ideas”, she emphasized, encouraging new students to let this be their guiding light.
Boyesen also drew attention to the formative aspect of being a university student.
“Be critical and curious!”
“It is not about memorising facts and blindly accepting what you hear or read, but rather about analyzing, reflecting and drawing your own conclusions, keeping an open mind and being curious. You will see that you will benefit from this throughout life – in so many ways”, rector Boyesen said.
“In time, you will also experience, like so many of us have experienced before you, that you graduate from university as a different person – more mature, molded and inspired by new knowledge, perspectives and friendships”, she added.
The mayor of Stavanger, Christine Sagen Helgø, greeted the students at the ceremony by quoting Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.
“Your studies will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal”, she said.
President of the student union StOr, Cathrine Johanne Sønvisen, held the student’s speech. She compared student life to a book. A book that you write yourself.
“Some of you are starting on chapter one of this book today. To fill the pages with even more content, I recommend getting involved in extracurricular activities”, she said, making reference to the abundance of societies and teams available for anything from sports to economics to politics and human rights.
“Getting involved here is fun! It opens up for new friendships and new opportunities”.
The president of StOr also pointed out that student life can be difficult and challenging.
“It is important to create an awareness around psychological problems, also among students. We must be there for each other. Let’s start this week. By being open. By saying ‘Hi’ to each other when we meet. By caring. By doing our share to make sure every student gets off to a good start of this academic year.”
Stavanger Forum’s Dissemination Award
TV personality and professor of medical statistics at UiS, Jo Røislien, was awarded Stavanger Forum’s Dissemination award for 2017 at the opening ceremony.
The award was presented by CEO of Stavanger Forum, Jan Hauge.
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Mugisho performed at the ceremony.
UiS alumni Stina Kjelstad also took to the stage with her acoustic trio, performing the title song «Home» from Kjeldstad’s second solo album, released in April this year.
Students at the Faculty of Performing Arts, Hilde Toresdatter Tangen (song) and Mengyao Wang (piano), gave us «Solveigs sang» by Edvard Grieg.
The vocal group at UiS – Stavanger studentsangforening – also participated with an act.
President of the Fadder festival Kim Roger Andersen brought the ceremony to an end by kicking the Fadder week off with loud cheers and a shower of confetti.