The first Student Council meeting of the year was held on Thursday, the 5th of November, at Waterloo campus, with over 7 student motions being ratified.
KCLSU describes the Student Council as a body of representatives that aims to ‘debate issues’ such as policy changes, campaigning and student submitted motions for change.
A number of issues were raised both by the motions put forth by Travis Alabanza-Behard, President of the LGBT+ Society and LGBT Officer, as well as in the speech made by Ben Hunt, VP for Education, ‘to work actively to lead the way for trans inclusion’ by providing for more ‘accessible’ and ‘clearly signposted’ gender neutral toilets around King’s campuses, and particularly in the construction of the new Bush House building.
The ambition to challenge ‘structural and institutional transphobia within our spaces’, as the motion for Correct Pronouns at Council Policy states, will be informed by the introduction of a new Council policy requiring ‘all students and staff at council to state their name and pronouns’, so as to reduce the ‘risk of being misgendered’.
The question of accessibility, and the need to introduce students ‘into the discussions and conversations around building plans’ in the development of Bush House, was also addressed through raising the problem of accountability in the college’s attempts ‘to encourage able students to use disabled facilities’ instead of providing gender neutral toilets, and therefore to ensure that ‘the new building is safe for trans and non-binary students’ – an issue which has been taken up by the Disabled Students Association, as well as the LGBT Association.
The use of spaces in the construction of Bush House remained a theme of debate throughout the meeting, also being raised by Alberto Torres, who questioned the placing of the KCLSU Student Centre on the top floor of the new building, which, he claimed, reduces visibility and student-union interaction since ‘that is the kind of place where people would go only if they were actively searching for it’.
Also, the Healthcare Career Accessibility motion – which addressed the changes to NHS-employed doctors’ contracts, resulting in a pay cut of up to 30% – was passed in support of lobbying KCLSU to endorse campaigns affecting ‘students pursuing a degree in healthcare’, and showing solidarity with the Junior Doctors protesting against the changes last month.
Other ratified motions included democratising KCLSU’s Trustee Board through amending policies on the administrative power of external, non-KCL, Trustee members; the Core Book Template motion aiming to ensure that core module books are always available in King’s libraries; the renewal of the Safe Space Policy; and finally, creating a more inclusive Student Council result space by holding the award night for Council Elections in a more accessible, non-drinking, space.