Term One Report: What has Robert been up to?

It’s been half a term since you started the academic year. As one of your elected KCLSU Officers, I’ve been working very hard for you. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

1 – Pronoun stickers and promoting our free sanitary products
If you went to Welcome Fair, you may have seen students and student group committee members wearing pronoun stickers. One of the first things I did as VP Welfare and Community was getting KCLSU to print optional pronoun stickers to encourage people to declare their pronouns at Welcome Fair. 

These stickers contributed to a sense of trans-inclusiveness at Welcome Fair, and serve as a reminder that people shouldn’t assume others’ gender based on their looks. KCLSU has some left, and student groups wishing to hold trans-inclusive events can ask for them.


I also worked with our Operations and Marketing team, as well as with King's Estates team, to secure clip frames outside our toilets where we could signpost students to the free sanitary products that KCLSU provides. The location of the clip frames was intentional, as not all students who menstruate are women and use the women’s toilets. The campaign to get free sanitary products was won in 2015 by former Interfaith Officer Noor Khan and Hareem Ghani, a King's graduate who was our KCLSU Women’s Officer and then the NUS Women’s Officer. Building on the successes of this campaign, we hope more students take advantage of our free sanitary products.

 

2 – Mental health
As part of my manifesto, I pledged to campaign for King's to provide better mental health support for students, particularly marginalised students. Together with fellow students Lux Step and Maya Biswas-Whittaker, I’ve launched the "Mind What Matters" King's campaign. We aim to get King's to put more resources into an anti-stigma campaign targeted at students of colour and international students, to properly assess the adequacy of our mental health provision, and to improve mental health provision for marginalised students.


Mind What Matters King's has been collecting testimonies from students, and we held an initial open meeting on 19th October to gather feedback from students. We received a healthy amount of feedback from students in attendance, indicating serious dissatisfaction with King’s counselling services. We have launched a survey and will be holding more open meetings in the future to gather evidence and plan how we will present our case to the university.


I also attended the inaugural meeting of the working group on King’s student mental health strategy. This group is planning, among other things, a review of King’s counselling and mental health services. In the meeting, which was chaired by Tessa Harrison, King’s Director of Student Services, I highlighted the need for any assessment of mental health provision to take into account the needs of marginalised students, including international students, and how the services could support them. This suggestion was taken positively and seriously, and as one of your elected representatives, I will push for it to be implemented.
 

3 – Getting a better deal for international students
One of my roles as VP Welfare and Community is to work for the various student communities on campus, including international students. My experience as an international student and as an advocate for international students came in handy when submissions opened for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Students.

Together with our VP Activities and Development, Shaurya Vig, I worked on a joint submission with King's to the APPG. Check out this article to find out more about our submission!
 

4 – Getting ready for lecturer strikes
Finally, earlier this year, we informed you that lecturers and academics at King's were balloting to strike, as part of a proposed nationwide strike by their union, the UCU. I led the Officer Team on developing a prompt and independent response from KCLSU to the strikes, in the event that they happened. I set up a meeting and opened a line of communication between the King's UCU branch secretary and the KCLSU Officer Team and developed a plan to help you take action when the strikes happened. While there was insufficient turnout to support a strike at King's, KCLSU now has increased strike response capabilities which we will deploy if strikes do happen.
 

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