Sikander Khan Leaves Everlasting Black Eye on Student Association
Students left with no answers in the wake of Virtual Academix scandal
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
This column makes me mad at...
I am the editor in chief of The Spectrum, but I am also a student at UB and for the past three weeks I’ve had a front row seat for one of the biggest scandals in Student Association history.
The scariest part is that nobody in my office was surprised when SA Treasurer Sikander Khan wanted to fork over $300,000 of student money for a mobile application produced by a company that had no record or any discernable employees. That’s because we’re all used to SA’s nonsense.
The organization claims to be dedicated solely to our needs as students. But if you’ve followed The Spectrum this semester, getting anybody in SA to speak about anything that matters is like trying to make it from NSC to the CFA in time for your next class.
If you read the profile on Khan in today’s paper, you’ll probably be as bewildered as I have been by his silence. Isn’t it strange that a man who never turned away from a chance to let his voice be heard has suddenly lost his ability to speak and hear?
Ironically, he ran for treasurer last year as part of the “VOICE” Party with current Vice President Meghan McMonagle (who also wanted to fork over the $300,000 and hasn’t spoken since) and President JoAnna Datz (who Khan hasn’t spoken to virtually all semester). Rather than explain himself to the 18,000 undergraduates he’s claimed to serve for the past 12 months, he resigned from his post.
I think he is just biding his time.
Full confession: Khan is mad at me.
Simple. I’m a journalist and I want answers – for myself and for you, the students I serve.
That’s why my staff and I launched an investigation into Virtual Academix, the company Khan wanted to give $300,000 in student money. My investigation didn’t turn up a lot of hard evidence, but there sure were a lot of half-truths and shades of grey.
As a journalist and as editor in chief, I’ve learned to hold back any information I can’t verify. If I’m not sure if something is right, I’m not going to put it in print. That’s my pact with you, my readers.
So, much of what I learned, we didn’t print. But my staff and I did find a lot of odd connections – UB connections. But no one would talk to us. When we tried again, almost every source directed us to a lawyer who had no comment.
To date, we don’t really know how the $300,00 deal originated or where the student money would have gone. We can’t even find anyone to tell us what Virtual Academix is – or was.
On Tuesday afternoon, The Spectrum contacted UB alum Omar Mehr, the founder of Abadan Inc. and CEO of Virtual Academix.
The Spectrum: Do you have some time to chat about your company, Virtual Academix?
Omar Mehr: Actually, I would not like to chat about that.
The Spectrum: You don’t want to talk about it?
Omar Mehr: No. It’s been referred to an attorney.
The Spectrum: Do you have a reason why you’ve retained an attorney since you aren’t being investigated or involved in a court case?
Omar Mehr: They’re better at this type of stuff than I am.
The Spectrum: What kind of stuff?
Omar Mehr: Whatever you guys want to know.
The Spectrum: You don’t even know what we want to know, so how do you know your attorney is better at it?
Omar Mehr: OK, I think we’re done.
The Spectrum: OK, thank you.
How can a CEO have nothing to say about his company or the $300,000 contract his company signed earlier this month?
How can anyone think Virtual Academix is legitimate?
So here it is – one of the shades of grey we have been too afraid to report anywhere else in our coverage:
Virtual Academix is a scam.
I can’t prove it – like a good journalist should.
But I know it.
I know it because nobody is talking and everybody is hiding.
So I am using this space – an opinion column – to say it. I only have a week left at The Spectrum and feel this is my last chance.
Maybe the secret is Viqar Hussain – the UB alum with ties to SA, and, most troubling, to Khan.