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KCLSU Student Officers Allege “intimidation and mistreatment” by Senior Leadership Over Palestine Statement

Three KCLSU elected student officers have accused their senior leadership of “intimidation and mistreatment”, as well as threats of suspension, over a statement released by the officers condemning the union’s response to the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

In a statement on Instagram, Hassan Ali (VP Welfare & Community), Sadaf Abbas Cheema (VP Arts & Sciences) and Alizeh Abrar (VP Postgraduate) alleged that they were pressed to take down the statement by senior King’s College London Student’s Union (KCLSU) leadership and were verbally told that they were suspended from their positions over their refusal to do so.

The original statement issued by three of KCLSU’s elected student officers condemned “the ongoing oppression in Gaza and the Palestinian occupation”, as well as KCLSU’s silence on the matter. They allege that they were later approached by KCLSU Senior Leadership and faced “verbal threats of suspension for maintaining [their] stance”. They accuse KCLSU Senior Leadership of “extremely aggressive and hostile gestures” and behaving in a “discourteous manner”. 

However, they allege that they were later told the suspension was being reconsidered. The officers sought clarification on the suspension procedure and questioned why swift action was taken prior to an investigation; a noted break from KCLSU’s typical course of action. A written suspension has not yet materialised. Roar will put out an update if it becomes aware that the written suspensions are issued.

The KCLSU officers involved have issued two questions within their statement to KCLSU’s Senior Leadership: 

  1. Did they actually mean it when they informed us of our suspension? If yes, then why did they overturn it? Does this not indicate malicious intent in using scare tactics to strong arm us into taking down our statement? 
  2. If they have retracted our suspension because they had not sought proper advice at the time of verbally suspending us and were not sure if this was in line with their by-laws, then does this not indicate incompetence and unprofessionalism? 

KCLSU’s elected officials refuse to retract their statement, saying they “unapologetically stand by [it]”, and “denounce the Union’s Senior Leadership’s hostile handling of this situation”. They also note that KCLSU did not pick up on the “irony of threatening three Muslim sabbatical officers with suspension for the ‘crime’ of standing for Palestinian human rights during Islamophobia Awareness Month”.

Roar has approached KCLSU for comment on the developing situation. 

Roar has approached KCL Students Justice for Palestine for comment on the developing situation. 

Since October 7th, international students, academics and workers across the UK have faced the threat of visa retractions for “committing anti-semitic acts” or “praising Hamas”, as per plans exposed from within the Home Office. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in Bloomsbury temporarily suspended some students following a Gaza solidarity rally, but insisted this was due to their conduct and not the content of the protest. When covering the first walkout for ceasefire at King’s College London (KCL), many of the student interviewees approached by Roar seemed enthusiastic, but retracted statements or refused to speak over worries about what it may mean for them or their families’ visas.

KCL issued a statement on the 18 October about the likely debate set to arise on campus as the conflict between Israel and Hamas evolves. They stated they take a zero-tolerance stance on “racism, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, abuse, violence and harassment”, and that they take “reports of such behaviour very seriously”. KCL declare themselves “committed to upholding and protecting freedom of expression within the law”, as they “encourage all members of our community to regard King’s as a place where opinion and differences can be aired with respect and civility, always remembering our shared human vulnerability”.

This situation is evolving. Return back to this page throughout the week to keep tabs on how this story develops. 

For more about KCLSU, click here.

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