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Politics 101 Begins the New Academic Year With Aplomb

KCL Politics Society event photo
Image courtesy of the KCL Politics Society

KCL Politics Society’s inaugural event of the year, Politics 101, brings a new dynamic to the university’s political scene.

Last night, the first event on the political calendar for King’s College London (KCL) students took place at Bush House. Branded as a “one of the year’s biggest political events”, there was certainty no disappointment in terms of attendance. The Politics Society had to hastily negotiate the rental of a bigger venue only a day beforehand and yet, with almost two hundred registered attendees, it still was a case of standing room only for the unlucky few at the back of the queue. At least they were closer to the drinks table.

Politics 101 is a new initiative launched by the society as part of their ‘new vision of democratic education‘. The last year has been a fractious time for student politics in London, including multiple high-profile spats between some of the most vocal societies on campus. This event was an attempt to rebuild a broad church, become a platform for discussion and serve as an “exciting political hub for all”. Students attending the event enjoyed an opening lecture from a School of Politics and Economics (SPE) academic, a series of presentations from KCL’s political societies and a post-event networking session.

Professor Keith Smith delivered the opening lecture, entitled ‘Politics 101’, to provide the uninitiated with a brief overview of political science, John Mearsheimer and popular TV show ‘The West Wing’. This may be the first time that a KCL academic has received a rapturous round of applause before even beginning their lecture – doubtless this was because Professor Smith’s reputation for good humour precedes him. Covering light-hearted and serious topics alike, he finished with the complicated question of ‘does politics have an end?’. Professor Smith’s lecture definitely did, and it was received with another huge round of applause.

This was followed by presentations from different student societies. Despite pledging not to attend events alongside the KCL Conservative Association (KCLCA) after a contentious debate about the British Empire last year, KCL Labour nonetheless agreed to once again share a platform with the Conservatives. This sets the stage for the annual Politics Debate, which had been in doubt following the announcement from the previous KCL Labour committee. 

Unfortunately the KCLCA spokesperson was unwell and could not attend in-person, but information about what their society has to offer was displayed in their absence. KCL LGBTQ+ Society were also unable to make the event due to availability issues. Liberate KCL, the left-wing society who aim to “democratise, diversity, decolonise, demarketise”, pulled out of attending the day before the event, citing the non-invitation of KCL Students For Justice For Palestine.

The society pitches were kicked off by Roar, who mentioned their half-century heritage, award for being the best student publication in London and the no fee, no obligation staff writer system. Students interested in finding out more were invited to attend Roar’s Welcome Social at The Vault this Friday from 19:30.

The American Politics Society then talked about their civic and academic initiatives. Their events include voter drives, speaker events and official visits, available to American and non-American students alike. The European and International Society (EISKA) then made two statements, first by announcing their Brussels Bubble programme and then by rocking double denim.

The Indo-Pakistan Development Forum brought a high-energy presence onto the stage, talking about building bridges and fostering closer ties. Not to be brought down by their malfunctioning QR code, the speaker offered a free photograph of himself to anyone who attended their first event. Exciting.

Another new society, KCL Afghanistan Think Tank, then set out their stall, offering prospective members high-profile speakers and events. King’s Think Tank then offered the sombre reflection that “politics and policy-making have never been so far apart but so connected”. As Europe’s largest student-led policy institute, they workshop and propose policy across a series of working groups.

“What better time to come together than after years of a failing and crumbling Tory government”, declared KCL Labour, greeted by both chuckles and groans. This was echoed by the KCL Liberal Democrats, who pronounced that their Spirited Discussions event was the go-to place for students who like both spirits and discussions.

As the only university in the country to have a Department of Political Economy (DPE), KCL Political Economy Society has a unique niche at King’s. They emphasised their mentorship scheme for younger students and the importance of getting the most out of both academic and non-academic aspects of university. The KCL Policy Research Centre then announced a new mission for 2023/24, branching out from their usual journal publishing and into workshops, competitions and education.

Finally, KCL Women and Politics Society brought a small crowd on stage to talk about their events and feminist magazine, The Clandestine. A thumbs-up from Keith Smith was the highest commendation achieved by any society that evening.

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