News Article

Reflection on Chairing The Accountability Panel

Sanya Salman tells us their experience as a Chair on the Accountability Panel, a process to hold KCLSU Officers accountable, offering a more transparent and open discussion with King's students.

  • Sanya Salman tells us their experience as a Chair on the Accountability Panel, a process to hold KCLSU Officers accountable, offering a more transparent and open discussion with King's students.

The Accountability Panel came to fruition with the aim to produce and formalise a space for open dialogue between KCLSU elected Officers and King’s students from multidisciplinary backgrounds. Having been a part of this process, the Panel's success is evident in the meetings and reports from Officers, which have provided the Panel with an extensive amount of information on the Officer’s weekly schedules and how their detailed meetings aided in furthering their priorities. Thus, this unique experience has gifted the Panel members with in-depth knowledge of KCLSU Officer’s roles, progress, and impact on the student, ultimately achieving the Accountability Panel’s aim.

Once accustomed to my role on the Accountability Panel, I had the pleasure of chairing the Panel’s fourth meeting, where our KCLSU elected officials took an hour and a half to answer an array of questions posed and fashioned by committee members. To prepare both the committee and the Officer’s for the meeting, the Accountability Panel had a pre-meeting on April 27th, 2021 (pushed due to scheduling conflicts) in which we discussed the Officers’ reports and any questions or comments we had. As chair, I ensured the committee allotted an equal amount of time to discuss each of the Officers’ achievements and guided the conversation whenever it fell quiet to preserve productivity. The committee denoted the Officers' success despite COVID-19, including a second Town Hall, new bylaws written to include wellbeing leads, and the removal of the late submission cap being approved by ASSC and CEC. Although congratulations are an essential part of the Accountability Panel’s role in ensuring morale and appreciation for the Officers, the committee also took time to ensure progress was being made and that the Officers had goals for their last four months. Most notably, the committee discussed potential concern regarding the transition process of this year’s Officers to the next. Given COVID-19’s ever-lasting effects on the student body and the progress this year’s KCLSU Officers have made in combatting them, the Panel formulated questions surrounding the Officers’ succession planning for their priorities.

Two questions that were posed to each Officer included:

  1. How do the current officers plan to hand over the torch to the incoming officers (2021 – 2022)?
  2. If one or more of the top three priorities are not able to be completed, are any officers worried the priority will get lost in the transition, given incoming officers may not be focusing on the same priorities?

Additionally, the committee focused on creating questions regarding the financial priorities of each Officer, given the relevancy of the topic due to COVID-19. For this meeting, the Panel decided to allot 10-13 minutes specifically to discuss the financial priorities of the Officers in an open format, straying away from set questions. During the meeting, this discussion allowed for the Officers’ group work to shine. Once the pre-panel meeting had finished, I formalised the agreed-upon queries, and they were sent out to the Officers the next day.

The Accountability Panel’s fourth meeting took place on April 30th, 2021. As chair, I followed the agenda by beginning with preliminary business, such as welcoming everyone and accounting for any absentees. Unfortunately, due to exams, this meeting did miss a few Panel members. Despite this lack of, the meeting was lively, full of discussion as the Officers answered our questions in detail. During this time, the Officers noted they too hope for a smooth transition to ensure incoming Officers keep up their priorities. Moreover, the Officers took their allotted time to discuss with the Panel and polish precisely which priorities they wished to focus on for the remainder of their term; some had already finished their main priorities and were unsure of where to go, others felt overwhelmed with the amount they had on their plate. Either way, the meeting provided a space where the Officers could solidify their goals and regain momentum to fight for students to the best of their abilities for the next four months. As chair, I kept track of the time, ensuring each Officer received time to address their concerns and answer the Panel’s questions. By the end of the meeting, I felt that the Officers had a better idea of how to move forward with their priorities and hopefully, the Officers felt appreciated for their outstanding accomplishments.

This was my first formal experience of chairing a meeting. Overall, both the pre-Panel and Panel meetings were positive experiences for me because of my committee members and the Officers who made me comfortable enough to lead confidently, the amazing examples my committee members set in prior meetings, and the preparation I was given before the meetings. With all this help, I believe I was able to lead a productive Accountability Panel meeting that provided Officers with ideas for the transition process and goals for their remaining four months.

Summary:

Salma Hussain - President:

  • Creating more avenues where students can engage and learn about her monthly goals and achievements
  • Working on viable plans for students to address financial concerns and promoting finical literacy posts such as money-saving tips

Niall Berry - Vice President, Activities & Development:

  • Completed his first priority by writing student activity groups’ wellbeing leads into the bylaws at the March government and policy meeting
  • Has been working with students on surveys for priority 2 (accessibility fund) and 3 (student media groups); albeit given the time of year, responses are coming through slowly
    • The Panel advised reassessing these priorities and how potent they may be during the transition process
      • Niall agreed and devised a solution in which he was able to ensure both priorities would continue, whether it be through an external group or the next Officer
    • The Panel suggested being more general in emails to open opportunities up for further engagement from students, as well as reassuring Niall it is exam season, which may explain the low numbers

Vatsav Soni - Vice President, Education (Arts & Sciences):

  • Completed his third priority, scrapping the late submission cap

Ali Gibson - Vice President, Education (Health):

  • Held another successful Town Hall on April 21st
    • Discussed with Panel how she intends to ensure a smooth transition of Town Hall to the incoming Officer, given this is a project that begun under Ali
  • Refocusing herself to priority 2, ensuring community sentiments across all four campuses, especially with the possibility of campuses opening soon

Heena Ramchandani - Vice President, Postgraduate:

  • Continually creating new ways to engage the postgraduate demographic, whether it be through events, a career page on KEATS, or ensuring their wellbeing

Tasnia Yasmin - Vice President, Welfare & Communities:

  • Reassessing how bursaries work at King's and whether it should change (as other universities have in recent years)
  • Continuing efforts to decolonise the curriculum through a wider lens which looks to include students through focus groups