RoarÂ sits down with KCLSU President Salma Hussain to discuss the upcoming “One Last Roar” events series. A week-long burst of festivities, One Last Roar promises to be an exciting end to an otherwise disappointing year.
The 2020/21 academic year was, to use a nauseatingly overused phrase, unprecedented. We’ve had lockdowns and case surges; suffered unspeakable losses and witnessed irrevocable change. University students, in particular, have had their day-to-day lives upended. What would have otherwise been a year of long hours in common rooms followed by nights out on the town were replaced by eye-watering Teams sessions and nights spent at home watching Netflix. First-years were denied their Freshers events, unable to meet their coursemates or explore their campuses. Throughout, cries for tuition fee refunds were readily ignored despite the best efforts of students’ unions across the country.
With only a few months left in her tenure, KCLSU President Salma Hussain decided that King’s students deserved at least one week of pure, unadulterated fun. As she told RoarÂ in a recent interview: “Students have had an awful year, right? And I thought, ‘we need to do something to make this year a little less terrible’. At 1 am, I was having a conversation and I thought, ‘what if we do something which was just a celebration event at the end of the year, when restrictions have eased slightly?’
“People are missing social interaction too much. This has been a long time coming; thinking about what we could do and what’s physically practical, but what’s also fun and what students will enjoy. I went through a phase – I sent thirty messages [with ideas] – pogo sticks in the Meadow, a drone taking photos, and an ice cream van… I literally thought, ‘imagination is the only thing constraining us… what can we do to make students smile?'”
Salma was smiling herself as she told us about One Last Roar’s origins. The events themselves are not just limited to final-year undergraduates, either: “The postgraduate population is 51.48% of the whole King’s population. […] They’re desperate to get on campus and meet people. Quite often, in lecture settings, you don’t get to make friends, and I think they in particular are looking forward to that.
“First-years, they didn’t have a proper Welcome Fair. Yes, we have the virtual welcome fair, but it’s not the same as being in the Barbican and pushing past people, getting free stuff. First-years are also desperate to make friends, especially since the final year of whatever they were studying before was disrupted.”
One Last Roar will conclude in a “beach party blow-out” event on Friday, June 25, but that’s only the tail-end of what’s in store for King’s students. The KCLSU has provided numerous student groups funding with which to organise their own events, showcasing the breadth of student experience across our university. From various mini-golf sessions to a karaoke night hosted by KCL ABACUS to scavenger hunts around campus, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. RoarÂ is even hosting a student media pizza picnic, inviting members of fellow publicationsÂ Strand MagazineÂ and theÂ King’s Business ReviewÂ to network with other student journalists at King’s.
Salma jumped at the chance to speak with us about these society-run events: “I wanted to see what interest would be like [for smaller events], but what we saw, overwhelmingly, was people saying they wanted interactions with people inside their circles. [Societies] are closer to the ground, they have their existing communities. I feel that, quite often, societies feel they aren’t part of the KCLSU. That is something that makes me really sad, and I wanted to empower them, give them support to run their own events under this banner so they can feel included and come together.
“I also thought this was important since you can go visit societies you’d never heard of. What better way to find new societies, new people to interact with, than to go to events that they run? […] I made so many online friendships this year, and I felt quite socially awkward coming out of Covid, so I really think this is a good opportunity for people to grow, expand their social circles, and also expand their interests.
“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people, seeing what their interests are. I’m just hoping for a week of interesting conversations and smiles.”
One Last Roar events will be running from June 21 – 25. Further information, as well as a comprehensive event timetable, can be found here.