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150 Days of Silence: When Will KCLSU Acknowledge the Suspended Student Officers?

Reggie the Lion
Image from 2021, courtesy of KCLSU

Today, Sunday 5 May 2024, marks 150 days since the last time the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) publicly acknowledged its three suspended student officers. With one of them since elected Union President, the issue seems unlikely to disappear.

The total cost of the incident, accounting for staff time, legal advice and the salaries of the suspended Officers, is impossible to calculate. It also remains unclear to what extent the duties expected of the three positions have been performed or how Union officials have compensated for their absence in democratic decision-making, such as in decisions over KCLSU strategy.

Speculation on these issues will not abate until the Union provides direct answers or public comment on the issue.

On 28 November 2023, Hassan Ali (VP Welfare & Community), Sadaf Abbas Cheema (VP Arts & Sciences) and Alizeh Abrar (VP Postgraduate) made a joint statement on social media criticising the KCLSU’s “tight-lipped attitude on Palestine”. The next day, they alleged “intimidation and mistreatment” from senior SU staff who were attempting to convince them to take the post down.

On 7 December, the KCLSU made a public statement acknowledging the issue and implying that a review into their case was underway. Roar understands that the three Officers could have broken their obligations in Section D of the Code of Conduct, which would allow their contracts to be terminated.

On 24 January 2024, the KCL branch of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) passed a motion “in solidarity with” the “three suspended KCLSU student officers”. Five days later, the Union opened nominations for the 2024/25 Officer roles without acknowledging the status of the incumbent officers.

On 26 February, Roar published an article confirming the official suspensions of the three officers, using information from an anonymous KCLSU employee. Picking through eight official KCLSU documents, Roar reporters highlighted the possible violation, procedure and sanctions relevant to the case. The Union did not deny the assertion of suspension, citing “the confidential nature of such matters”.

On 15 March, Hassan Ali, the suspended Vice-President of Welfare & Community, won the KCLSU Presidential election on a platform of “imperative” change. His manifesto cites “push-back for representing the student voice” in a clear reference to his suspension.

There is still no clarity on the issue from the KCLSU. The three Officers’ images and quotes continue to be displayed around campus. There has been no communication from the Union informing the student body of any challenge to their elected representatives. Hassan was even congratulated by the Union for his success in the presidential election.

On the other hand, the KCLSU Officers Instagram account has been inactive, the three employees have not been seen in the KCLSU offices and the Union has not confirmed that their “processes” have concluded.

Roar understands that a protracted disciplinary process is still ongoing, with substantial legal advice being taken on-board by Union officials. Should Hassan eventually be found to have been in violation of the Code of Conduct, KCLSU Bye-Law 2.13 suggests that he will likely be removed from the presidency for the upcoming academic year and a by-election will be held to replace him.

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