With recent scandals affecting the credibility of our national institutions during past legislatures, it seems that the public at large has full reason to question the accountability of the way our government departments operate. Unfortunately, students aren’t all that better off especially since, quite simply put, the Board of Discipline that should be acting as a judicial body and watchdog towards KSU isn’t even in line with the very statute it should be safeguarding.
Insiteronline has attempted to follow the normal path an aggrieved student would take to put forward a complaint to the board of discipline but found it inaccessible to say the least. Firstly, there is no mention of the identity of the members forming the board on KSU’s website or anywhere else for that matter, except for Insite’s live-feed during the last KSU AGM. An email was then sent to KSU asking for the identity of the members forming this board and whether they actually met up or not and, truth be told the results weren’t too surprising.
Although a reply was given it not only was lacking in information but it also took 2 weeks and 5 days for an answer to be given from the time of writing. Whilst the identities of the members was provided the e-mail failed to -crucially- specify who was nominated as the Chairperson or Secretary amongst the members composing the board as highlighted in article 40.1.2 in KSU’s statute.
Getting in touch with some of the boards’ members (a total of 4) has also reaped unsatisfactory results. One member, who asked to remain anonymous, indicated that he had no recollection of ever meeting up in an official capacity highlighting that they -might- have met up once after the KSU AGM but wasn’t entirely certain. This being affirmed by another member.
Reserve member and ex-Pulse executive member Ryan Spangol highlighted that he was never informed about things pertaining to meetings and new or pending cases. He opined that, being a reserve member he might not have been given all the information available but from his experience KSU has never attempted to get the board together. He described the system as ‘…being left jammed’.
In essence the above mentioned scenario is in itself self-defeating. Firstly, how can someone issue a complaint if the person responsible of taking care of complaints (the Secretary) isn’t even nominated or even highlighted? The confusion alone would make the whole process seem futile.
Secondly, how can people trust a board that has, quite likely broken the statute from the start? Due to the lack of information provided it is very difficult to discern whether the board has actually met up or not and if in the negative the board is in breach of article 40.1.1 of the KSU statute. This highlights that the board must meet up not later than 3 weeks after the KSU AGM and nominate the aforementioned Chairperson and Secretary thus highlighting the importance of these two positions in terms of procedure.
Another element to consider is whether KSU have tried, in any way, to compel or interfere with the board’s workings by encouraging its members to meet up. The board members that were queried all replied in the negative. Although some would disagree with me, I am inclined to believe that KSU shouldn’t ‘touch’ the board at all. One basic principle of law is the ‘nemo judex in causa sua’ rule (one cannot be a judge of his own case) and any interference from KSU might be perceived as a breach of the board’s ‘independence’ due to its interference.
Ultimately the situation regarding the board of discipline is not the fault of its members or of KSU itself but by the ‘bloated’ form the statute has imposed on it. There must not only be a greater visibility afforded to the board itself but the structure must also be streamlined and revised. How can the board’s members be expected to set the board up when there isn’t a starting line whatsoever?