Comment Editor Samuel Pennifold on why we students won’t feel the difference of the KCLSU elections.
On Wednesday the results of the latest SU elections will be released and the new President of the Student Union will be announced alongside their five Vice Presidents each representing a different section of the student body or reemit. These elections have also seen races to be KCL delegates at the National Union of Students and other academic officers. But no matter who wins and loses we students won’t feel any difference.
And I am not alone in this sentiment. The KCLSU has over 30,000 members, but how many of us voted? 3,233. 10%. Only 10% of SU members voted for its new leadership. One could hardly call that a ringing endorsement of the SU, the election process or the candidates.
Every candidate offered the same cut and paste policies you see every year: improving the student experience, more mental health support, more funding for societies. These are of course all noble causes that deserve support and attention. Ultimately though they are one-sentence ideas that anyone can peddle out to garner murmurs of support.
As students, we aren’t though lacking imaginative and innovative candidates, King’s is a university full of leaders. What is lacking is the structure and the support for us to help make a difference.
The SU is ultimately limited in the scope of its powers with funding tied up in bureaucracy and committees. If you want an example just look back at the chaos that was the Town Hall to address students’ concerns over tuition fees, rebates, online learning, and assessments. The SU seemingly exists as another mile of red tape to protect the university.
As a student rep at King’s I have tried to find ways to help students on my course, to make things clearer and more accessible but it seems the administrative culture of King’s is one of plausible deniability and blame.
There is such a large bureaucracy within King’s that may be designed to take away stress on individual components but the outcome is a messy final product. There is little wonder that King’s as a university wallows in the depths of university rankings in terms of student satisfaction and is consistently outperformed by our Gower Street neighbours.
The student union could be a true source of change and leadership, instead, it has become entangled within the monster that is the KCL machine.
I hope the next president and vice presidents can plant the seeds of serious change but as only 3,233 of us voted I think most of us have already given up.