News Article

Reflections of an Accountability Panel Chair

An open notebook, pen and glasses

Fabian Siau reflects on his experience chairing the last Accountability Panel of this academic year during which the Officers shared their succession plans and Panel Members discussed the effectiveness of the accountability process.

 

I chaired the fifth and final Accountability Panel meeting on Thursday 17th June 2021. It was a ripe opportunity for the Panel as well as the elected Student Officers to reflect on the past Academic Year and provide constructive feedback to staff on KCLSU’s democracy team to improve the Accountability Panel process and procedures for subsequent Academic Years. Members of the next Accountability Panel also joined in to observe the meeting to have a better feel of the kinds of questions the Panel asks in preparation for their succession of the Panel.

 

As the inaugural Accountability Panel, we had to navigate through unchartered territory in establishing an effective way to scrutinise as well as support KCLSU Student Officers during their time in office. Panel meetings not only provide a platform for Panel members to seek clarifications on specific points and areas of the Officers’ priorities, but also a platform for Officers to elicit feedback and demonstrate the (impressive) work they do – important work to better the King’s community but often silent and unnoticed to the proverbial public eye. The Panel was not initially planned to be an online platform, but with everything else during this pandemic, it has had to adapt to the everchanging circumstances as well as the growing prevalence of virtual meetings. However, virtual meetings have allowed Panel members and Student Officers to meet from almost every corner of the globe – including Toronto, Singapore, and Dubai – and KCLSU is also exploring the possibility for Panel meetings to be available for observation by the King’s community through a live link. Nevertheless, the Panel is excited for successive Panels and Officers to meet in-person (hopefully) soon and a hybrid arrangement might be adopted by future Panels with a blend of in-person and virtual meetings.

 

The Panel mainly discussed the Officers’ progress and evolution of their priorities throughout the past Academic Year, examining ways in which the next team of Officers can learn from their experience as well as how the Accountability process can be made more robust to strengthen democratic processes at King’s. The Panel also discussed more recent developments, such as the introduction of KCLSU representatives in King’s Residences to provide a neutral and additional source of support for students living on campus, as an alternative to Residence Associates who report to Hall Managers. The Panel also learnt of KCLSU’s active involvement with Academic Associations to better understand students’ concerns and specific support they need to improve student experience, as well as other programmes and campaigns (e.g., anti-harassment, involving postgraduate students who make up a very sizeable part of the King’s community, improving communication channels given the effects of the pandemic).

 

On behalf of the first Accountability Panel, I would like to extend my appreciation to the Student Officers for their cooperation and friendship, as well as the KCLSU staff for their support and dedication to the Accountability process. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve on the Accountability Panel and I have confidence that the future Panels would continue to work with KCLSU Officers to improve student experience and welfare at King’s.

 

PANEL SUMMARY

Note: Most of the Officers are in the midst of handing over their duties to their successors and so there are fewer new developments to report. The meeting was more of a consolidation and retrospective reflection of the past Academic Year.

Salma Hussein - President

  • Publishing reports for King's students for greater transparency, as well as condensed versions for ease of reading

Tasnia Yasmin - Vice-President Welfare & Communities

  • Interviews, harassment campaign, volunteering workshops, community charter, reviewing bursaries, introduction of KCLSU residence representatives

Niall Berry - Vice-President Activities & Development

  • Accessibility Fund has been set up and ready to be launched in September 2021 (pending setting up by the IT Team)
  • Introduction of KCLSU residence representatives to support students staying in halls

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

  • Sat on the Budgeting Panel and is in making final adjustments to the late submission cap

Ali Gibson - Vice-President Education (Health)

  • Worked and liaised with Academic Associations to gather an understanding and connection with what is happening with different groups of Health students – opportunity to pick up on issues that might have been overlooked by the university

Helena Ramchandani - Vice-President Postgraduate

  • Re-elected as VPPG for the next Academic Year
  • Worked on the harassment campaign which is already ready and due to be launched during Freshers’ Week at the start of the next Academic Year
  • Re-examining communications including the possibility of incorporating KCLSU communications into the Welcome to King’s app