King’s College London’s Students’ Union (KCLSU) is still yet to confirm whether three Student Officers were suspended after issuing a statement condemning the Union’s response to the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
Hassan Ali (VP Welfare & Community), Sadaf Abbas Cheema (VP Arts & Sciences) and Alizeh Abrar (VP Postgraduate) released a joint statement criticising what they described as the KCLSU’s “tight-lipped attitude on Palestine” in an Instagram post on 28 November, 2023. The Officers then released another statement the next day, alleging they had been met with “intimidation” tactics. They stated that they had been “verbally suspended”, before they were later informed that this was being “reconsidered” pending “further advice”. The three Officers have not publicly commented since.
The Middle Eastern Eye subsequently reported that the suspensions had been confirmed, although they do not cite a source. Shortly afterwards, KCL students organised a protest calling for the reinstatement of the Officers. However, on December 7 the Union stated that they were “not currently able to comment on the specific details” of the case.
“We remain committed to freedom of speech, especially when debating contentious issues – this is a fundamental democratic principle we hold dear. At the same time, we have clear governance policies and procedures, which must be followed and we must respect and maintain the confidentiality.”KCLSU statement, 7 December 2023
Over 60 days since the Officers’ initial statement, and their status remains unclear. Roar understands that the three officers have not been seen around KCLSU workplaces since the incident. Students are now, however, into their third month of waiting for an official confirmation or denial.
Nominations for the 2024 Officer elections have opened today and the deadline for incumbents to declare if they intend to run again is next Monday, 5 February. The status of the allegedly suspended officers may become clearer before or on this date.
The situation has remained in the public eye, despite an absence of communication from either the Union or Officers. In a post on X, the KCL branch of the University and College Union (KCL UCU) announced that it had “unanimously passed a […] motion in solidarity with” the three Student Officers.
The motion states that: “suspending individuals for expressing their opinions on their personal Instagram accounts contradicts the values King’s claims to uphold”.
Discontent with responses to the ongoing conflict in Gaza is not limited to critics of the KCLSU. Last week, almost 200 academics signed an open letter to Professor Shitij Kapur, urging the University to call for a ceasefire.
Roar will update students as and when a statement on the three Student Officers is released by the Union.