I came to King’s as an international student feeling like I had entered a surreal, dreamlike environment. I wasn't able to comprehend the life around me because I missed out on Fresher’s week, so missed out on the many opportunities to make friends.
It was difficult at the start, but I knew that I was surrounded by opportunities at King's, and I decided to make the most of them. I started off as a Welcome Ambassador helping fresher’s move into halls. Then, I worked as a community ambassador, calling first-year students and asking them about their experience at King’s so that we could make it better.
I then took the next step, making the decision to fully commit to changing the lives of the students around me. I ran for International Students’ Officer at KCLSU, then went on to became the Vice President for Activities & Development and then finally, I made the choice to run for President.
My time at KCLSU has been the best time of my life, despite the challenges that came at me. I have been in almost every major newspaper of the country, be it The Times, Guardian, Daily Mail or the Evening Standard. There have been times when I have felt like tearing my hair out from stress, and there have been times when I have felt my heart was going to burst from excitement. Throughout this roller-coaster ride, I have grown as a person, developed as a leader, and learned skills that will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life.
This journey has been incredible. I could probably write a million more words about it, but I would rather pen down some of the things that I did for the students during my time in KCLSU
345 rooms for international students in the King’s affordable accommodation scheme
This was my main campaign for the year. I successfully got 345 rooms at a subsidized price for all those international students who come from lower income backgrounds. This is, in addition, to already established King’s affordable accommodation scheme for home students. Many of our international students face immense financial hardships, but don't receive enough support. I closely worked with King’s residences, changed that in King’s, and made sure we think about them. This is not about affecting 345 students - this is about affecting 345 families.
Visa fees for international students
I managed to secure visa expenses for all international students wishing to go for a sabbatical position. This means that if you are an international student and you get elected as a sabbatical officer in KCLSU, the SU will cover your visa expenses. I wanted to incentivize international students to run for sabbatical positions and create representation from the sizeable demographic of international students we have at King’s College London. I believe international students are an indispensable part of the student community, and we are trying our best to make sure they are supported and are active members of the SU alongside other students.
Accessible toilet campaign
Many individuals are affected by ‘invisible’ chronic conditions and need accessible toilet facilities. I have worked to implement improved signs for accessible toilets, with the message that ‘not every disability is visible’. This raises awareness of chronic conditions and helps to make facilities fully acessible to everyone. It encourages privacy and facilitates acceptance, eliminates personal embarassment in using the disabled toilets, and demonstrates awareness of and support by King's and KCLSU for numerous affected and marginalized groups.
We will have these accessible signs outside every accessible toilet from 2018-2019, which I see as a big step towards inclusivity and diversity.
In my year as VP Activities and Development, I managed to keep King’s College London open for the first time during Christmas break for all the students who do not go back home. The free food and games the university provided gave them a feeling that they were being looked after. Sometimes, even small things like this can have a great impact.
Freedom of expression
We have been working together with the university on a freedom of expression review to make sure that our process are defensible, efficient, transparent, consistent and fit for purpose to support the growing demands of our vibrant community which I believe has been very successful.
We hired an external consultant. The consultant, after interviewing different stakeholders within the university including student society presidents, staff from the union and the College, has presented some reflections and suggestions for the SU and university to work on which we are hoping to take on board after considering the practicality of these. A recommendation of a joint advisory committee comprising of people from KCLSU and KCL has been suggested in addition to some other recommendations which will now be taken forward. This should be in action in the new academic term.
When I came to King’s back in 2014, I missed Freshers Week due to issues with my visa. Hence I missed out on the opportunity to make friends, which affected my student experience from the start of my time at university. I wanted to change that.
This year, for the very first time, I made sure that we had a refreshers orientation in mid-October for all those students who missed Freshers. This provided them with the opportunity to have an induction with the king’s community, resulting in a much better start than what I had.
Toilets with douches
I worked alongside the international student’s officer from 2016-17 and started a campaign on having more toilets with douches in King’s. Considering the sizeable demographic of students from Asian countries and the Middle East, we wanted to make sure this becomes a part of Estates policy.
After several discussions and meetings, I am extremely happy and proud to announce that we achieved the following:
- Having toilets with douches has officially become part of the King’s Estates policy, which means King’s will have toilets with douches in any future King’s estates development.
- Toilets with douches have been installed in the Waterloo campus.
- We have secured approval to have toilets with douches in Bush house.
Room booking time for booking King’s room
Long waiting times have always been a big obstacle for our activity groups when they want to hold events in King’s rooms, even when they have invited no external speakers.
I promised in my manifesto to bring down the waiting for booking King’s room from 10 to 6, and I can proudly say that I bought it down to 3 days!
Welfare packs for students
I worked on a cohesive union strategy in putting students’ welfare first during exam season. We engaged with students anxious about exams, handed out welfare packs (biscuits, tea, raisins, and stress balls) assuring them that their SU is here for them during what can be a stressful time.
Alongside all of this, I have also been the King’s Student Street Ambassador to help King's enhance their internal communication.
I have been involved in work with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, and also in the service strategy being led by Jonathan Grant.