The Board of Governors Representative sits on both Students’ Council and the Board of Governors, the university’s highest governing body. The board contains a mix of staff, alumni, students and public members, and is responsible for tuition levels, managing campus finances and approving new buildings.
1. Give us an overview of your platform and your goals for the coming year as BoG Rep.
Azhar Khan: My main goal as a Board of Governors Representative is to have a united front on the Board for undergraduate students. Advocacy at the Board level is meaningless if students are advocating for different positions.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a debate, that just means that it won’t be debated at the Board level.
2. What makes you the best candidate?
Khan: The fact that I’ve been at the university for a long time, and I’ve seen so many differeny regime changes. There are definitely themes where I thought the Students’ Union has done a good job, and I feel I can bring that experience and foresight to the Students’ Union and the Board.
3. A lot of students might not know what the BoG rep does. In your opinion, what is the responsibility of the BoG rep to undergraduate students?
Khan: There are only two undergraduate students on a board of 21 people.
That means your advocacy skills need to be top notch, but it also means that expectations should be tempered. You’re only two votes out of 21, so it’s really the advocacy that comes in as opposed to the voting power.
4. How do you plan on communicating the voice of undergraduate students to university administration?
Khan: I want to negotiate with interspace bargaining as opposed to rigid animosity. I want to meet with the university and discuss each party’s underlying interests.
By seeking to understand and be understood, I believe we would be better served in terms of finding better solutions.
5. How do you plan on building relationships with incoming U of A president, David Turpin?
Khan: Just reaching out to him. Speaking with him or going for coffee with the guy.
Also making him comfortable with the Students’ Union. So just bringing him out to presentations and to meetings would help build that relationship between the SU and trust in the new president.
6. Is there anything you would have done differently from the current BoG rep?
Khan: I would show greater transparency with the SU execs. My goal is to be working as a team, and I do strongly feel like our voices are weakened if we vote in different directions on the Board. It could become incredibly confusing to the Board if they think, “how can we take their opinion seriously if the two students are voting in different directions?”
7. At the Board of Governors, you sit directly across the table from the U of A’s president. Who is your ideal person to be sitting across from you at the BoG?
Khan: David Suzuki. It would be interesting to see such a strong environmentalist advocating for the school in the centre of where the oil sands are in Canada. Also, he’s from B.C. and I like the guy.