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Open letter to KCLSU Board of Trustees

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We, the undersigned students of King’s College London, address the KCLSU Board of Trustees following the adoption of the resolution on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in regard to Israel that was passed yesterday by the Student General Meeting.

It is our intention to clearly state the following: this letter is in no way aimed to endorse or contest either supporters or opponents of this resolution. We are motivated solely by our strong conviction that the Students’ Union at King’s College London should follow the highest standards of professionalism and diligence in its internal affairs and should at all times abide by its own laws and rules, as well as the legal system it operates in.

This is ever more important given the prominence of King’s as one of the leading academic institutions in the world and the renowned position of the Dickson Poon School of Law as one of the finest faculties educating the students who wish to devote their lives and careers to serve and support the principle of the rule of law. We strongly believe that whatever decisions it makes or whatever actions it undertakes, the KCLSU should acknowledge its primary role as the institution supporting students throughout their time at the university and recognize the limits to its remit in this important task.

Therefore, we ask the KCLSU Board of Trustees to override the resolution adopted by the KCLSU Student General Meeting on March 25th, 2014 regarding the BDS movement in accordance with Article 63.1.1 of the KCLSU Articles of Association.

In our view, this resolution goes beyond the responsibility and competences of KCLSU and is not compatible with or in furtherance of the Students’ Union’s charitable objects and therefore cannot legally constitute official policy or decision of any body of this Union given the following:

- Article 6 of the KCLSU Articles of Association (AoA) restricts the exercise of the Charity’s powers only ‘to promote its objects but not for any other purpose’;

- Points 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the ‘This Union Resolves’ section of the aforementioned resolution, are not in furtherance of any objects of the Charity as outlined in Article 5.1 of the AoA. In particular, the resolution fails to meet the primary criterion of ‘the advancement of education of students at KCL for the public benefit’;

- Points 1-4 of “This Union Resolves” are likewise not in furtherance of any of the Charity’s objects to advance the education of students at KCL by:

--‘providing sporting, social, cultural and recreational opportunities [...] as to further the educational purposes of KCL’ (5.1.1 AoA);

--‘advancing the welfare and physical and mental well being of students’ (5.1.2 AoA);

--‘providing representation, advice and assistance to students on matters affecting their welfare and interests as students’ (5.1.3 AoA);

--‘promoting and encouraging contact and co-operation between students’ (5.1.4 AoA);

- Points 1-4 of “This Union Resolves” do not advance any objects that are charitable in law and would be incidental or conducive to the foregoing objects, therefore they do not meet the criteria stated in Article 5.2 of the AoA;

- Adoption of the decision or resolution that is in breach of the Charity’s governing documents constitutes violation of the Charities Act and – given the status of the KCLSU as the students’ union – the Education Act.

Seeing as the resolution fails to meet any of the objects of the KCLSU as listed in Article 5 of its primary governing document and given that it is in clear violation of Article 6 of this document, we call upon the Board of Trustees, and especially the external members of the Board, to exercise their powers, uphold the governing principles of this Union and declare this resolution invalid.

Furthermore, we would like to point out, although it remains outside of the above grounds for our request to override the resolution, that the SGM adopted a motion that includes information which raise significant doubts as to their source and, in fact, accuracy. In particular, ‘This Union notes’ point 13 referring to Peter Higgs’ support for BDS movement does not provide credible or sufficient proof of such statement on behalf of Prof. Peter Higgs and as such does not comply with the academic standards of King’s College London.

Lastly, we ask the KCLSU to publicly inform the student body whether they sought legal advice or opinion before the motion in question was approved for the Student General Meeting and if so – whether such opinion indicated possible legal, financial or other repercussions to KCLSU or whether it suggested that the motion may violate the KCLSU Articles of Association or Bye Laws.

Once again, we underline that this letter is external to the arguments in the dispute that has polarized the population of students at King’s and as such we commend any concern and actions that aim to preserve and strengthen the human rights of all people, provided such actions are undertaken in a lawful and transparent way. We share the confidence that there are appropriate institutions, organizations and authorities that allow students of King’s College London or any other university to advance their respective political stances in the way specified in the resolution, but we strongly believe that the KCLSU should not and cannot act as such an institution.

This petition was edited on March 26th at 10.45pm to include this disclaimer:

N.B. Please note that this open letter is intended to be the voice of the KCLSU members, i.e. the students at King's College London. Please sign underneath ONLY if you're a KCL student and provide your ID number in the 'comment' box.

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