Words by Dustin Graziano
Photographs by Katie Herchenroeder
Haris Khan was honored to step in as the President of the City College Undergraduate Student Government last semester when the former president, Quintin Price, had suddenly left the position for reasons unknown to the campus community. However, after a short 5 months of trying to push a progressive agenda for the college while being met with consistent challenges and conflicts inside the USG, Khan is now resigning from his presidency.
“I think the current dynamics of the student government don’t align with the hopes I had for this campus. I’ve tried to uplift the student body and government at each turn, but have been met with obstacles that I feel at this time are insurmountable for me and require a different style of leadership, or just a different person,” said Khan. Those obstacles include a lack of dedication within certain members of the USG, stemming from what Khan calls “slate elections.”
Khan thinks there has been a long tradition of students running for positions in the USG that get involved because they know someone, or have friends in the USG. These are students who run in groups, and do so without the intention of doing the work that needs to be done to benefit the entirety of the campus. This is what Khan means by slate elections. “There are a few people [in the USG] that are self-interested and care about pursuing their own personal goals and not the goals of the campus community […] and a few just want to do the bare minimum and be complacent in their role,” said Khan.
Another upsetting challenge that Khan had to face within the USG, he alleged, involved bigotry. After spending much of October and September stabilizing the organization by filling in the many positions that were left vacant by the former president’s sudden leaving, rumors began to surface that Khan would be giving out student government scholarships mostly to Muslim students, on account of Khan being Muslim himself. “It was hard to believe that some people were really assuming all of this because of the way I practice my faith,” said Khan.
Khan hopes that his resignation from the presidency will serve as a wake-up call, as he is known to be a man who is all about student government and finding ways to improve the conditions for students on campus. He will still be holding his position as the Chairperson for the University Student Senate and the only student member of the CUNY Board of Trustees.
“I think I’ve been in Albany more than class this year, and I feel like I’m going to be able to do more for CCNY and other CUNY schools at that level […] If I were to hold onto the presidency and still try to push while being in such a difficult environment, it would not be as impactful for the students here as it is for me to step down and focus on my leadership role with the University- fighting against excellence fees, tuition hikes, fighting for financial aid reform, and so forth,” said Khan.
Though Khan has had difficulties with his role as president, he has had the support of a few dedicated people of the organization. He claims that Frantzy Luzincourt, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, and Secretary Hannah Towfiek are two people that he knows to share a similar passion for improving City College as a whole. “They’ve both been people that I’ve relied on to change the culture of the USG, and they’re still in that environment, pushing hard and trying to get things done […] I’m excited to see what they do,” said Khan.
In an effort to try and get elected officials in the USG who are dedicated in pursuing goals for the City College community, Khan, with the help of Frantzy Luzincourt and Hannah Towfiek, is advocating for elections where any student who truly cares about the campus can run for office.
“Slate politics have dominated the college for a few years now… We need to have competitive elections that are refreshing and that are going to bring in a team of diverse people across the campus who want to do the job. You don’t have to be a friend of this person, you don’t have to be a colleague of that person, you just have to be a hard-working student leader. If you really care about this campus, you should run for office,” said Khan in his last call to action as CCNY’s USG President.
Read Khan’s official resignation letter below: