Roar writer Dinh Nguyen reports on recent negilgence from the KCLSU. After accusations of life-threatening negligence raised by the KCL Mountaineering Club, KCLSU is under another barrage of allegations, this time related to its finance team. KCL Geography, KCL Barbell, and KCL Hiking have all come forward with their own claims of the Student Unionâ€™s mismanagement.
King’s Student Union (KCLSU) takes on a number of responsibilities for running student life at KCL. One of their most important responsibilities has increasingly become more neglected: handling finances for student societies. Donations to a fundraiser organised by the KCL Geography Society took close to half a year to reach their intended charity. KCLSU Financeâ€™s delays in processing and releasing the fund has strained the relationship between the student group and the charity. â€œIt’s embarrassing having to explain why the money is taking so long because when you fundraise money, no one expects it to take almost 6 months to arrive.â€ says an anonymous source from within the society.
Other large events have been threatened as KCLSU has withheld payment. Although being promised by the Union that most payments will be processed within 14 working days, Geography Soc. says that it could take two to three months before any payment requests are granted.
It appears that the problem with the KCLSU finance team fundamentally stems from a clear lack of communication between their finance department and student groups and societies. This means many time-sensitive payment requests are not being processed, disrupting existing plans for events and the societyâ€™s operations. Geography Soc. representatives expressed their frustration to Roar, saying that their requests took months to be answered. This has led to multiple instances of partners threatening to cancel as payments were not being made, leaving the society no choice but to get the college’s Geography Department involved. Only then were their issues resolved.
The unresponsiveness of the finance team is also threatening the operation of the KCL Barbell club. Facing the same problems, Leonard Marshall-Afzar, the clubâ€™s treasurer, told Roar: â€œEvery time I have dealt with KCLSU, they have been slow and unresponsiveâ€. Roar learned that both the teamâ€™s coach and the gym in Vauxhall where they regularly train have not been paid for weeks. The inability to access the clubâ€™s fund controlled by the Student Union is putting the relationship between KCL Barbell and its partner at risk, and damaging the clubâ€™s reputation.
The same stone-walling tactics were used against the KCL Hiking Club. According to a source within the society, emails by multiple committee members about an incoming invoice to pay for a trip were ignored, leading to the trip being cancelled last minute, much to their membersâ€™ disappointment. Speaking to Roar, one Hiking committee member commented: â€œItâ€™s a shame theyâ€™ve led down a lot of societies and their members this yearâ€.
Across the board, we are seeing reports of communication breaking down between the Student Union and the groups they are responsible for. Emails are met with silence, usually for a long period of time. When emails eventually go through, however, they are often pushed to different people within the finance department, all asking the same question. It seems like the problem with communication in the KCLSU exists both internally and externally.
It is clear that trust between student groups and the Union is at an all-time low. â€œWe always expect the worst outcomes since we have had so much stress trying to organise and pay for our eventsâ€, says a representative of Geography Soc. The ordeal demonstrates a lack of responsibility in the way the Student Union is being run. Clear communication issues hurt long-running relationships between societies and their external partners. Considering that the KCLSU receives the most funding out of all Russell Group universities, the expectation of a functioning Student Union seems reasonable. However, a pattern of financial lapses has proved disappointing for many societies.
As the academic year draws to a close, we can only hope that the new 2022/23 administration improves their financing for the sake of student life at KCL.