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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

In Omar We Trust: The New Student Trustee

Student Trustee-elect Omar Bukhari - Photo by Tuan Pham
Student Trustee-elect Omar Bukhari – Photo by Tuan Pham

April was an exciting time for student government junkies, with Student Senator Omar Bukhari capturing the position of student trustee. Bukhari, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, won by five votes over Fritz Hyppolite, also a student senator, and chair of the Campus and Community Affairs Committee. A total of 362 votes were cast in the election. With the recent tuition increases approved by the UMass Board of Trustees, the position of a student representative (UMass Boston is one of the two who will have a vote) on the board takes on an even greater degree of importance.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself: where you’re from, extracurricular activities, etc.

A: I lived in Canada in the early parts of my childhood but moved to Pakistan later on. I finished high school in Pakistan and started my undergraduate at UMass Boston in the fall of 2000. I have been on the Student Senate since 2001. I am also part of the Muslim Student Association, the South Asian Youth Association, Pakistani Student Association, ACM [Computer Science] and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Q: How will you ensure that your vote is representative of the student body?

A: This year, UMass Boston has the vote on the Board of Trustees and this is a great opportunity for us. It’s very important for everyone to understand that we would have to look at all the aspects of an issue before voting on it. We also have to see how it will affect the university.

In order to get student input I would encourage students to come to me and discuss everything that is necessary to be addressed. Apart from that, we could have regular surveys with the help of The Mass Media and hold open forums. I would also encourage students to attend Student Senate and committee meetings on a regular basis, since they allow students to know what’s going on.

Q: What are the goals you have as trustee?

A: In the past few years I have seen the Student Government experience a number of positive changes. My most important goal is to make the student body know that there is a student representative on campus they can trust and whom they can come to whenever they need to.

It is very important for me to develop a sense of community and I’m sure I will be able to do that, thanks to the foundation laid by the current trustee, Heather Dawood, and with the help of the Campus and Community Affairs Committee.

I would also encourage more student participation, since without them it would be impossible to build a stronger UMass system.

One of the biggest challenges we are facing is the restructuring of UMass and the massive budget cuts; trying to prevent them is one of the biggest concerns we, as a student government, should have.

I am looking forward to working with the current Interim President Tuan Pham, and a number of senators like Jesse Solomon, Fritz Hyppolite, Bryan Smith, Colleen O’Malley, Reuben Urmenta and all of the new members joining us this spring.

Q: You’re currently the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee for the Student Senate, what can you bring to the position of trustee?

A: As far as I know, the Board of Trustees also has a Budget and Finance Committee, and as the student trustee I could learn more from these meetings and bring to the senate and to the next chair of the B&F Committee how business is conducted at these meetings.

I would bring in the same charisma and motivation with which I worked with my Budget and Finance Committee. It is very important to be organized and up-to-date at all times, and I will try my utmost effort to be that way.

One other thing that I learned as Budget and Finance chair is that I always have to be ready to face any challenges that come my way, no matter how difficult they might be. Working towards making a difference is what we student leaders are here for, and I hope I continue to do so.