News Article

Reflections of an Accountability Panel Chair

An open notebook, a pen and a pair of glasses

Fabian Siau, third-year BA student in English and Linguistics 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. 

I had the privilege of chairing the third Accountability Panel meeting this year where our elected Student Officers discussed their progress and answered questions posed by the Panel. This was a week after the Panel met to scrutinise the Officer Reports and formulated questions that the King’s student population might have. Having served on the Panel since the start of the Academic Year, I have seen how the Panel has been able to probe deeper into the Officers’ progress for them to elaborate on the myriad of work they have done, assist them in gathering ground sentiments, and provide prompts when needed.

 

The Officers have made significant progress and it is evident that they have been under immense pressure given the extreme demands and circumstances of working in a pandemic. Many of us would be familiar with how telecommuting (or working from home’) has blurred the lines between one’s professional and personal lives, and this is no different for the Officers who have worked tirelessly – sometimes at the expense of their own mental health. It should also be noted that this batch of Officers has to be extra adaptable not only in terms of working virtually due to social distancing but due to the volatility of the pandemic.

 

The Panel discussed how the student population may be, at times, unsure of what KCLSU has done for them, and we explored ways to raise awareness of KCLSU’s work and initiatives. For example, many students are understandably distressed with the assessment period coming up, and the lack of a ‘safety net’ policy (compared to the last Academic Year) is a significant source of stress. As a final-year undergraduate student, I share these concerns and am equally worried. Some students appear to perceive this as a lack of effort on the part of KCLSU, but not many know that it was the Russell Group that decided against the policy. Even fewer students are aware that the KCLSU President is in contact with the other Union Presidents to apply pressure on the Russell Group leadership to reconsider their approach and negotiate a more equitable policy for university students. Much of the work KCLSU do remain largely invisible to the larger student population but are nonetheless critical to the student community in protecting and advancing its interests.

Panel Summary

Salma Hussain (President)

  • Meets regularly with the other Russell Group universities’ Union Presidents which is an instrumental force in negotiating with the university

Niall Berry (Vice President, Activities & Development)

  • Formalising wellbeing roles within KCLSU’s bylaws to better ensure students’ mental health is protected and discussed within clubs and societies
  • Conducting focus groups with the Disabled Students’ Network Lead regarding accessibility needs

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

  • Working on getting the late submission cap reviewed through a designated working group at King’s, which is expected to be implemented in the next Academic Year
  • Working on reminding and pushing the various academic departments to disseminate their syllabi, rubrics, as well as academic and assessment resources to students

Ali Gibson (Vice President, Education (Health))

  • Working on an internal survey to capitalise on the petition effort other King’s students have made on external platforms in order to make a case to the university
  • Raising the awareness of KCLSU and engage the student community

Heena Ramchandani (Vice President, Postgraduate)

  • Working on improving communications strategies such as the Officers’ Instagram and rethink email engagements in the light of email fatigue in the age of COVID-19

Tasnia Yasmin (Vice President, Welfare & Communities)

  • Committing to completing the rent campaign by the end of her time in office
  • Extending anti-racism training to the rest of the King’s community

 

Applications are now open for Panel members until 24th March, as KCLSU is looking for an amazing team to hold leaders accountable and speak on behalf of students. You can apply here