Libertarian Society head Danny Al-Khafaji drops out of SU presidential race

Libertarian Society President and KCLSU Presidential candidate Danny Al-Khafaji has formally pulled out of the election.

Releasing a statement exclusively to Roar, Al-Khafaji claims that the KCLSU is “broken” and that it was only after “viewing the hypocrisy first hand” that he was compelled to abandon the presidential race.

After voicing his concerns about the poor state of the KCLSU at the recent Presidential Election Hustings, he has gone on to write about his lack of faith in the democratic system and the elected officials who represent students.

Former Presidential Candidate Danny Al-Khafaji

His statement can be read in-full below:

Our student union is broken. To me, this was always a subconscious assumption that I didn’t quite want to accept. However, it took my entering of this electoral process, viewing the hypocrisy first-hand and the lack of student engagement to confirm this sobering reality.

The mental health epidemic is worsening, with the level of students suffering from anxiety and depression increasing by the year, and the willingness of students to talk about these issues declining. The foundational principle underpinning our quest for truth, exploration of new ideas and challenging of viewpoints, free speech, is being eroded away further with each new set of student officers that take charge. Consequently, the rise of hateful politics and radicalism on both sides of the political spectrum is rising, and our ability to call it out and expose its toxicity diminished. Of even more paramount importance, the environment is being degraded and our capacity to influence environmental change collapsing. Ask yourselves, what has the student union actually done to even scratch the surface of tackling any of these problems? I’m sure you know the answer, and it speaks to why student participation is dropping to all-time lows.

What is the point of a student union if it remains in this direction of travel? A student union that is futile, static and corruptible, and whose representatives consistently preach empty words and cite moral platitudes while making no binding changes. This only feeds a cultural feedback loop where huge swathes of students lose faith in the Student Union, leaving a minority of voters to control the narrative and put into power more officers whose views do not intersect with the majority. Manifesto after manifesto talks of change, but none deliver. It is clear, the Student Union hasn’t actually done much at all, and it continues to let us down. I do not lay the blame on any one individual, but on the institutional culture.

I entered this election cycle with high hopes, a yearning to address the underlying endemic issues plaguing student politics and a desire to do away with the corrupt interests espousing empty promises. Undergoing this process, however, has compounded my view that running for a position to seal a salary in a defunct organisation inevitably attracts individuals to take the helm as a means to further their own personal interests at the expense of representing us. In light of this, it is in being sincere to myself and all of you that I have come to the conclusion that continuing my candidacy would involve me becoming what I am battling against, and propping up the very machine that has preached on behalf of so many but delivered for so few.

It is in spite of this that I have an unwavering belief that change can and must be delivered from the outside. My policies, as much as I believe in them, do not need the bureaucratic echo-chamber of the student union to function, which will merely taint their effectiveness. Rather, a determination and willingness of students to take the initiative is essential. An incompetent Student Union which cannot even mobilise to submit an application to the NUS LGBT+ Conference on time to allow our delegates to be heard, persistently fails to stand up for a diversity of ideas, and only achieves 10% of what it sets out to do, cannot carry the mantle for change.

Some, while reading this, may be disappointed and argue I am quitting pre-maturely, but it would be dishonourable of me to have votes cast in my name, as opposed to the names of my opponents, when I do not have faith in the organisation I am running to lead to deliver the change students expect. There has to be institutional and cultural change to tackle the root of these issues, and that can only be influenced from the grassroots, not from one symbolic figurehead with the title of ‘President’ sat at the top. It is for this reason that I cannot campaign for a position I fundamentally no longer believe in, and neither should you.

Voting for the elections opens Monday 4th March and closes on 7th.