Joel Kanhai is a KCLSU Student Panel Member. This volunteer role provides a student perspective on hearings, including appeals, misconduct, fitness to practice and complaints, to help improve the King's community.
What does the role of Student Panel Member entail?
The KCLSU Student Panel Member sits as the student body representative on various misconduct committees such as Fitness to Practice, Academic Progress and Non Academic Misconduct Panels. The four member panel is led by an academic chair who conducts the proceedings. The panel hears from the faculty or body raising the issue and also from the student. The Student Panel Member is expected to have read the brief provided beforehand and in an unbiased manner ask any questions and raise any concerns. In the process of deliberation the representative brings a student’s perspective to the proceedings. The student is given one vote which puts them on equal standing with other members of the panel.
How did you get involved in being a Panel Volunteer?
This is open to all students and is advertised at the start of the academic year. Volunteers undergo a training session which introduces them to the various committee types and your role as the student representative. You are taught the need to analyse critically, act without bias while at the same time being empathetic to any mitigating circumstances. This is followed up by an interview examining your understanding of the responsibilities of the student representative. Adina Bernstein at KCLSU has been phenomenal in coordination and is an excellent point of contact.
What do you enjoy about volunteering in this role?
Very simply, asking the question, “why?” One word and extremely powerful. When a student presents before the committee I am more interested in what has led to the infraction than the actual infraction itself. It is rare to find malice or intentional subversion of college regulations, so it curious then when infractions do occur. On questioning you are often presented with scenarios ranging from mitigating circumstances, to lack of knowledge of resources and pathways available to systemic shortcomings.
Addressing these reasons are key on two very important levels:
1. At the level of the student, these factors are taken in consideration at deliberation by the committee on the outcome.
2. Learning from the case such that the wider student body may benefit. The solutions to these reasons can be translated to simple measures as reinforcement of systems in place through education of faculty and students or in cases of systemic shortcomings advocating for change.
What’s been the most profound memory of volunteering?
I had the opportunity to attend a Rape Crisis training session as part of KCLSU’s initiative to equip members with skills to deal with difficult cases. The session covered issues as rape, assault and harassment with focus on young adults and BAME as an at risk group. This was profound because while I was aware this was an issue, I never understood its prevalence. This was reinforced by the stories of case studies and contemporaries. I appreciate now that though we may live similar lives and walk down the same streets we have different experiences and levels of security colored by race, gender and past experiences.
What have you learnt from your time volunteering?
From my experience I learnt that execution of the rule of law is not as linear as one would expect. I appreciate the balance which must be met by exercising empathy with implementing regulation. The most important thing I have learnt is to never doubt the power of a singular voice. If you believe something that is in contrast to a pervading opinion; stop, gather your facts, analyse and efficiently communicate it. This is all that is needed is for discussion to be started.
What would you say to anyone thinking of taking part in volunteering?
It is a duty and a privilege to give back to the greater collective. Volunteering offers true experiential learning, developing the skills/traits which are often neglected, but desperately needed if we are to improve society. Empathy, Gratitude, Mindfulness,... Explore, Try and Choose. There are many organisations and many modes of volunteering find the one that inspires and impassions you.
To find out more about how you can become a KCLSU Student Panel Member click here.
To nominate a student for volunteer of the month click here.