By Zainab Iqbal
Published: April 18th, 2018
When Hira Khan—running with Himansu Pal for vice president for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) student government—posted her candidacy announcement on the BC In The Know Facebook page, she wasn’t expecting it to get over 100 comments. It all started with a question posed by the current CLAS President Nissim Said in response to Khan’s post referencing her ideas for a “reformed system”: “What’s the reformed system?”
Pal, a junior majoring in business and statistics, is on the pre-law track en-route to law school. He is a Watson fellow and is a part of TEDxCUNY, Students Partnering and Reaching Kids (S.P.A.R.K), and the Kappa-Sigma fraternity. He ran last year for CLAS president and lost by 107 votes to Said. He has absolutely no experience in student government, but that is okay, he says; it’s time somebody new got to hold the torch.
“It’s like if I have a torch with a fire lit in it, and I keep passing it to my followers, that prevents a new fire from happening, a new passion, a new idea, a new revolution,” he said. “That’s what my campaign is all about—a completely new reformative system.”
“It’s time to bring new faces, new voices and new innovative ideas to student government—a reformed system with everyone included and everyone involved,” Khan’s Facebook post read. The question Said posed wasn’t answered, even after he asked it four times. Pal then replied by letting Said know the question would be answered at the CLAS debate next week. But that answer wasn’t sufficient enough.
The reformed system the pair was referring to was a proposal to eliminate corruption within student government. According to Pal, it is the lack of transparency presented by the student government.
“The presidential candidates argue that the assembly and executive board aren’t connected, yet, we have candidates who are running with an assembly,” Pal told the Excelsior. “So last year, Nissim had a flier. On the front he included the people on the executive side; on the back there were 29 people for assembly. So essentially if Nissim wins, so do those other 29 people.”
Pal argues that running with an assembly takes away opportunities from students on campus because student government is essentially going to have the same students every single year—and that is what’s problematic, Pal said.
“I think president and vice president should be sufficient, and after that, as president, you appoint officials. I don’t want to jump to conclusions and be like ‘Hey, want to be my treasurer because I have no one else?’ Is that really the best way to pick a treasurer? You should take the time even after you become president to see who’s really passionate about student government, who really wants that position, and then appoint officials.”
Contrary to what some students commented on the Facebook post, Pal said he wasn’t hiding anything, nor was he running away from the question. He was just waiting for the right way to present the idea; he believed that a comment on a Facebook thread was not enough.
“An idea like that deserves more,” he said. “These are the same ideas I ran with last year. And I’ve gotten the chance to add more. It’s not because I wanted people to steal ideas, it’s because I needed to present it the right way to students.”
“When you go to a top restaurant, you never see them bring out a $5,000 dish on a bronze plate. It’s always top quality meal, top quality meat, top quality everything from garnishing down to the plate, down to the way they put the sauce,” he said. “Presentation matters. And people need to understand that.”
Regardless of the questions Said may ask on Facebook posts, Pal respects him. Though he believes Said did a great job being president, there’s more he could’ve done.
“Nissim has done amazing things. I don’t want to overshadow that one bit. He’s been truly different from what we’ve had in the past. And he’s someone that I can look up to if I were to become president,” he said. “But I think because he’s trying to do so much, he hasn’t gotten everything done that he wanted to. And that’s a problem. I think you need to start off small, make a checklist, and literally check things off. Not have a thousand tasks on one list and then shade in half a box to show 50 percent completion; because at the end of the day it’s what you get done, not what you started, and not what you didn’t finish.”
An idea Pal feels strongly about is building connections with student governments of other City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. He believes strong dialogue will create ways to share resources, co-sponsor events, and help each other.
“We all have our own issues, and they may not be the same but maybe something that is a problem for us is something that Queens College is really good at?” Pal said. “So why don’t we make use of that CUNY network?”
Pal also believes that students should be making use of the BC Navigator app, as its only current purpose is to “log on and show your ID card.” He believes, if taken advantage of, the app can be the “next social media.”
“Imagine if you could share your location, take a quick picture, and post it on the app. People get to see, the administration gets to see the issues that are happening and fix it right away,” he said. “We are proposing to use it more like an interactive outlet to connect BC students with the administration. This in turn would resolve larger issues such as the lack of transparency since not everyone has a Facebook.”
When Pal first joined BC in his freshman year, he absolutely dreaded it. He was waiting for the day he could transfer. But then he wound up checking out the scholarship office, applying to a bunch of stuff, got accepted, and decided to get involved. He realizes he now loves Brooklyn College. And he believes that’s exactly what the college needs—figuring out ways to get the students involved. And that, he said, starts with a story that can resonate.
“I came in thinking that this was going to be a waste of my time. I’m just going to get a 4.0 GPA, do nothing, apply to law school and get the heck out of here—but then I fell in love with the school,” he said. “This is my way of giving back. I want to leave a story behind. I want to give students that motivation that just because you go to BC—yeah it may not seem to be a school of great opportunities and the land of hope—but there’s still so much this school has to offer.”
For those who say becoming president of CLAS is just another accomplishment for Pal to add to his resume, he laughs.
“At the end of the day this isn’t something I need and this isn’t something that’s going to further my application for law school. This is something that I want to do.”
Pal is also very thrilled about the CLAS debate that is scheduled fornext Tuesday, April 24 during common hours at the Occidental Lounge in the Student Center. He is optimistic for the chance he’d get to put forth his ideas and see what other candidates are up to, though he hopes the questions won’t get leaked beforehand.
“Brooklyn College, to me, has been an experience that I never saw coming,” he said. “And I just want other students to feel the same way.”
For more information on Pal and his and Khan’s campaign, you can check out the campaign’s official Facebook page: HimansuHira4CLAS2018