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Friday, October 07, 2022
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Shaken Khan-fidence

Brazen and bearded Sikander Khan once proclaimed to the SA Senate: "I am not afraid of anything." He once told Spectrum reporters he has "the balls of an elephant."

He told on-campus Senator Daniel Ovadia: "I learned politics in my mother's womb." He specifically requests to be interviewed by female members of The Spectrum, whom he refers to as "beautiful ladies."

It would be a dramatic understatement to say Khan is an audacious character.

Khan resigned as Student Association treasurer on Friday following The Spectrum's investigation of the $300,000 contract he signed with a company, Virtual Academix, that appears to be counterfeit.

Khan hasn't spoken to the public since the article about the scandal was published on April 11, but The Spectrum conducted an interview with him at the end of March.

"You don't have to believe any word that I say," Khan said during the March interview. "You can go out and do your own research and if any word I say I lied in the recording, I'm liable to impeachment - straight up, no doubt about it. If I lie to the Senate, if I lie to administration, if I lie to The Spectrum, I'm up for impeachment right away. Forget impeachment, I will resign."

Khan, a senior computer engineering major, grew up in India and was one of the few Muslim students in an all-boys Catholic high school.

He has boasted a brash disposition since day one; he told The Spectrum last month that he was a troublemaker in school.

Khan's father was the State Minister for Sports in Madhya Pradesh, India. Despite growing up in a political household, Khan disliked politics. But he still wanted to get involved at UB.

So he ran for president of the Muslim SA and transformed it into one of the most successful clubs in SA history. During his presidency, MSA won the Special Interest Services and Hobbies club of the year. As president of one of the biggest student organizations at UB, he kept a steady eye on SA's higher-ups. He vividly remembers disagreeing with 2010-11 SA Treasurer Anthony Roman.

"I knew the SA finance department inside out, so I knew that we could run things more smoothly," Khan said in a March interview.

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He said he wanted to make things better.

So he chose to run for treasurer. He got 1,653 votes and it was enough to win - and to give him control of $3.6 million in student funds.

During his tenure, Khan prided himself on those numbers. One of the first things people saw upon entering his office was a large piece of paper sitting atop a white-board. On it were big, bold characters:

1,653.

"The students who elected me gave me this power based off of my campaign promises," Khan told The Spectrum in March . "It's my job to make sure they actually get what they expect and not [just an empty] promise.

"My attitude is: 'What do we need to do now?' If what you're doing brings pride to your organization and SA, I'll work around every point of approval to make sure you get what you need."

SA's pride has come into question amidst the scandal, but before it, some club heads held Khan, the man who controlled their funds, in high esteem.

always carried himself with integrity while standing up for all the [clubs]," said UB Students For Life President Christian Andzel, a sophomore history major, in March. "My club wouldn't be where it is now without him."

Khan said he knows what it's like to be a full-time student with multiple jobs and responsibilities. Prior to becoming treasurer, he worked as a dishwasher in Ellicott Complex for Campus Dining and Shops, then got a job at CIT, and then was an usher in Alumni Arena. Khan said he had the option of letting his parents support him, but he chose not to because he loved being able to earn his own money. He said that's what kept him grounded.

"If after I get elected I just sit here and enjoy the perks of being in office, I lose my connection to the students who voted for me," Khan said in a March interview. "All it takes is one second for me to go back as a club e-board member and to know what the students are going through."

He said he knew what his most complex obstacle would be: his limited time in office. Khan and the rest of the e-board only had 12 months to run SA, and he felt it was not enough time to implement all the changes he had planned.

He made big moves and they've been well documented. Here are some of the smaller ones:

Khan incorporated a guidebook entitled Finances for Clubs - SA's first ever e-board-friendly guidebook to help clubs better finance their budgets. In the past, clubs got that information during club orientation. Now they access it through the SA website.

Khan put an end to the tradition of SA's e-board bonuses.

He said he wanted to provide equal services to all undergraduate students, and he promised they would get the most out of the mandatory student activity fee of $94. After getting into office, he realized the money collected from 19,000 students was given back to about 4,500 students.

He hates Fall Fest and Spring Fest and considers those concerts a waste of money because they benefit less than 25 percent of the student population.

That's what made him search for a service that would reach all undergrads and ensure they get their money's worth, he told The Spectrum. As a computer science major, he said the answer was simple: technology.

After months of research, he came up with a $300,000 initiative called SA Mobile and Cloud Services, which was supposed to consist of academic tools supported by top-notch mobile technology.

"SA has signed the contract for this project and [it is] currently going through administrative review to ensure all the necessary guidelines are followed," Khan said in the late-March interview. "Considering the academic importance and cost of this project, we made groundbreaking efforts and went above and beyond to fulfill all the guidelines...and we don't see any [opposition] from the university administration."

His plan didn't hold up. In fact, it led to his resignation.

SA Vice President Megan McMonagle, who co-signed the Virtual Academix contract with Khan, has not spoken since the incident. The Spectrum interviewed McMonagle prior to the scandal.

[is committed] to the people he represents. His favorite question to university officials is: 'How many people hired you? Because over 1,600 people elected me,'" McMonagle said. "It is this attitude that I hope to remember and commit to...and I hope his successor may do the same."

Khan did not respond to The Spectrum's request for an interview for this article.

Additional reporting by freelance reporter Tahsin Chowdhury

Email: features@ubspectrum.com

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