We, the elected Officers of King’s College London Student Union, have written and published this statement to make public our reflections and feelings towards actions taken by King’s College London.
In order to allow King’s College London (KCL) to effectively facilitate their term one timetabling and protect the academic experience, the university proposed that the academic day would be extended to 8am-6pm, and that Wednesday afternoons would no longer be a protected time dedicated to sports and activities. This decision was agreed by the previous KCLSU officer team during a period of understandable uncertainty to allow flexibility around re-opening campus.
However, recently the university’s lead COVID-19 group made the decision, despite objections from both the president and CEO of KCLSU, to extend these changes into term two. As a team, the current SU officers feel that these blanket changes to term two fail to consider the importance of the student experience, despite statements that this is still an institutional priority. The importance of student experience cannot be understated, particularly at a time where large portions of student’s university interactions come via distance learning. Not only this, but this decision is made against the backdrop of a commitment by the Education team to produce a Mental Health Strategy, and yet the consequences of this very alteration to the timetable are likely to include impacts on student wellbeing and mental health.
Therefore, as an officer team we have been pushing KCL to re-protect Wednesday afternoons in term two. We have secured a review date for the policy, and will continue to press King’s to secure the return of Wednesday afternoons in term two. We recognise the importance of sports groups and societies by the social, personal, emotional and physical health boosts that these groups have given us through our time at university, and that our King’s Community would be severely affected without them. On top of this, in times of reduced campus time and fear and anxiety around a global pandemic, a sense of community and connecting with others in a safe and socially distanced manner can make the difference in tackling loneliness, isolation, low mood and wellbeing.
If you are interested in supporting this campaign, we are collecting student testimonies to take to the University and are putting together an open letter to demand Wednesday afternoons are protected in Term 2 and beyond. You can find out more by signing up to our Campaign page, ‘Protecting our Wednesday Afternoons’ and add your name to the open letter by emailing [email protected]We will be doing our utmost to prevent KCL from proactively stripping us of this.Should we towards the end of Term 1 appreciate that we still need to operate under the same circumstances as now, which requires freeing up the maximum amount of time to schedule teaching through, then we will work with KCL to find an alternative way of ring-fencing time for sports clubs and activity groups to convene. It is crucial, throughout this, and as described above, that the value-add to students, the King’s community and the university itself is recognised, understood and appreciated, in order that we can ensure students get the most fulfilling and rewarding student experience possible in these tricky times.
Niall Berry, VP Activities and Development 2020/21