News Article

Reflections of an Accountability Panel Chair

Reflection 

I had the opportunity to chair the first accountability panel meeting of this academic year, involving student officers and panel members from all disciplines. This meeting followed a previous discussion (premeeting) with only the panel members where we scrutinised our student officers' reports looking for clarification, critique, and congratulations!

With virtual meetings being the new norm, I have had the experience of 'informal chairing' where I give a brief overview to participants as to what we will be discussing. However, this was the first time I have chaired a meeting with a written agenda, using terms such as AOB (Any Other Business), minutes, and apologies. I felt quite powerful conducting myself in this way, as for me chairing this meeting was quite a novelty. However, on understanding each officers' reports, chairing, and attending meetings were part of their average day.

 

Reflecting on my position as chair, I felt I was able to lead and facilitate an engaging meeting. I had good time management; I was able to ensure we all left on time, which was crucial, as many of us had commitments straight after each meeting. Furthermore, it was quite important to me to summarise and clarify that we were happy to move on, especially in the premeeting, to ensure we all were clear on what was discussed. It was challenging at times to let the student officers and panel members know that we needed to move on, especially when I felt that we were having quite a productive discussion. This could be addressed by finding a balance between being a facilitator and an active participant.

Focusing on the meeting itself, I have had minimal interaction with the union; hence this was an eye-opening experience into the structure and politics surrounding it. Student officers submitted their reports detailing their priorities, their progress and how they are working to represent students. The panel meeting allows them to provide further insight into their roles and their 'typical week', highlighting that there are many ad-hoc tasks alongside their priorities, so flexibility and good time management are needed.

Before this, I was under the impression that all officer roles were quite distinct and separate from each other. This was a view that was challenged by this meeting; in fact, it reinforced the importance of teamwork and interdisciplinary discussion. I will be focusing on a particular moment of the meeting that I feel displayed this. When discussing with Niall (VPAD) about his plans to achieve his priorities, he informed us how, unfortunately, some were put on hold to protect Wednesday afternoons. Due to the pandemic, the college had allowed timetabling to take place at this time. Niall, along with the rest of the KCLSU student officer team, launched a successful campaign to ensure from Semester 2 onwards, Wednesdays from 2 pm are protected and can no longer have academic timetabling. During this discussion, the officers congratulated each other and stressed the teamwork required to achieve this. I wanted to focus on this as it is a win for the student body but also was quite wholesome to see the hard work, they put in paying off. This further reinforces the importance of the panel; we could take the time to formally congratulate our peers in a personal manner.

To conclude, for my first, formal experience of chairing, this was overall positive for me; I hope this was a beneficial experience for my fellow panel members and our student officers. I feel as though we collaborated effectively to ensure progress can be made with each officers' priorities. Finally, I am eager to see the progress our student officers make over the year.

 

Summary:

Salma Hussain - President:

  • Socials:
  • Have had meetings with the union to discuss how to implement a formalised peer support scheme
  • We are working to improve communication with the student body regarding Covid 19 after feedback of email fatigue.
  • Created a welcome event on managing money and designed a session for the HEAR accredited Digital skills course which will teach students how to create their budget.
  • We liaised with KCL Islamic Society and the Chaplaincy to ensure that these spaces are considered when the campus is reopened.

Niall Berry - Vice President, Activities & Development:

  • Socials:
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Twitter: @kclsu_vpad
    • Instagram: @kclsuofficers
    • Facebook: KCLSU
  • Ensured that from Semester 2 onwards, Wednesdays from 2 pm will be protected time with no academic bookings
  • Working with Julia Haas (Wellbeing manager) to identify groups that currently have a wellbeing lead, following on from this, researching how to implement this across all student groups
  • Will be liaising with student media presidents once they have settled in their role to see how they can be supported.

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

  • Social:
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Twitter: @kclsu_vpeas
    • Instagram: @kclsuofficers
    • Facebook: KCLSU
  • Working with different committees to try and implement late submission cap changes
  • Awaiting results from the survey focusing on student feedback which will be used for reform in this year
  • Working to ensure there is more student involvement to make University and Union Governance transparent and inclusive

Tasnia Yasmin - Vice President, Welfare & Communities:

  • Socials:
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Twitter: @kclsu_vpwc
    • Instagram: @kclsuofficers
    • Facebook: KCLSU
  • Working alongside Vatsav in assessing survey feedback which will be used for reform this year
  • Will be researching into other London Universities of a similar size to see how we can implement financial support.
  • Working with faculty staff to improve welfare support at a faculty level

Aless Gibson - Vice President, Education (Health):

  • Socials:
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Twitter: @kclsu_vpeh
    • Instagram: @kclsuofficers
    • Facebook: KCLSU
  • Working with academic associations to create digital, student-led, student-focused events
  • Researching into current KCLSU brand awareness, insights from this could be used to improve knowledge of union services.
  • Forming connections with faculty education and student experience leads to enhance student representation with the union and university.

Heena Ramchandani - Vice President, Postgraduate:

  • Socials:
  • Have identified potential barriers to engaging PG students and am working to overcome these
  • We are working with Salma and Tasnia to discuss how we can implement a third instalment in tuition fees.
  • Have had a meeting with the careers department to discuss options to increase PG opportunities