With his time as student body president nearing an end, Omar Khan can only count the days until his replacement takes office. But to Khan, that doesn’t mean his influence will be lost.
Khan described his presidency as an “inclusive grassroots” effort to get as many students involved in national, state and university happenings.
“The most important thing we did this year was get students involved,” Khan said. “This year, more students were involved than ever before. The biggest thing we did was representing the students that had never been represented before. We tried, and I think we did a good job, to spread the inclusiveness of Student Government.”
Last year, Khan won an election that, with 1,831 votes in the general election, drew the highest voter turnout in USF history. That record was shattered this year, with 4,133 votes being cast, putting Bijal Chhadva and Brandon Faza in a runoff this week and Khan in third, signaling the end of his tenure.
“I feel like we got more students involved than ever before. More importantly, we got voting blocks in the university,” Khan said. “We opened Student Government to the entire student body. We went to every organization. We went everywhere possible. Also, one of the big things is that, with me and (vice president Ryan Morris) running together, we were very complementary, and our perspective was that we were energetic and enthusiastic.”
In addition to time spent convincing students to register to vote, Khan addressed issues such as the NSEERS controversy, the SEVIS fee applied to international students and proposals that would have brought standardized testing to Florida’s universities.
Khan said he doesn’t feel like he has made the job more difficult for his successor, though.
“The position is always 10 times more important to the person serving it. I don’t think I’ve left big shoes to fill, although I do think we’ve done a good job,” Khan said. “We’ve brought up some issues that were never brought up before. We brought to the forefront multi-faceted issues that affected a wide range of students.”
Khan said he hopes his commitment to spreading awareness of broader issues outside the university is something future presidents follow. Faza said Khan has changed the position for the better and that, if elected, he hopes to continue Khan’s endeavors.
“Omar did a great job of bringing diverse issues to students’ attention and making sure students’ voices were heard on some very important issues,” Faza said. “He has expanded the role and definitely in a positive way. We would definitely want to keep the broad perspective he introduced to the position.”
Chhadva could not be reached.
Khan said he has left a lesson for future officers to learn, however.
“The one thing I wish I did better was publicizing some of our accomplishments. There is always room for improvement, so I know there are other things for people to improve on. But I think a big thing that should be done is the spreading of information regarding what Student Government is doing,” Khan said.
While Khan will not be directly involved in SG affairs next year, Faza said Khan’s work will not be finished at the same time as his term.
“We have sat down with him and promised him that we will continue to fight some of the causes he has fought for,” Faza said.
Khan, who will attend graduate school at USF in the fall, said he would offer his experience to SG as a resource.
“I will be involved an advocate role,” Khan said. “I will be here to help the student body president in any way I can. I’m always going to be a Bull. I’m going to let them have their year, though. I will be a resource to the next president, someone who he can talk to if he has any questions about the job whatsoever.”