Behind the scenes: Sakib Khan

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He’s not as famous as Chris “I love Sean Hannity” Kulawik at this point, but Student Governing Board President Sakib Khan–who oversees all political, religious, and cultural groups–outranks him and every other student leader on this campus. Bwog caught up with Khan in the hours following the Minuteman Brawl, racing to scribble down his informed commentary.

sakibAlthough he helped the Republicans to regain control of last night’s incident, Khan is skeptical of the wisdom of the speaker choice. “It is not my feeling that this event accomplished the goal of Chris or the Republicans,” he said, calling the speech “non-functional programming.”

Worse, the reaction may impact the ability of student groups to bring speakers to campus. “I have a serious feeling that the future of student programming may be in jeopardy after this.” Although SGB neither approves nor disapproves student groups’ choice of speakers, Khan said his board would consider advising the Republicans to pick someone with a less polarizing podium manner. On the flip side, Khan was disturbed by the reaction of audience members, and believes that the governing boards have an obligation to promote reasoned debate on campus. “Ironically, they were doing the vigilante role of public safety,” he observed.

Administrators have been largely silent on fallout from the protests while they figure out what’s going on, and often differ in their approaches to conflict: a few favor academic freedom at all costs, while a more pragmatic faction would rather avoid bad press in the middle of a $4 billion capital campaign. Khan, however, fears that the actions they take could make things difficult for the individuals and groups involved. “There’s a clear bright line between the protest outside and the protest inside,” he said. “I’m afraid that the administration is going to blur that line.”

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  1. woa  

    How can Bwog speculate as to the "factions" in the administration? Does Bwog have special insider knowledge? Do share!


    BWOG shut down the original thread and is denying us our right to free speech! How long before this one gets shut down too?

  3. Taylor  

    We shut it down only because our server couldn't take all the activity, and with over 500 comments on a single post, it was taking way too long to load the page.

    But we're thrilled with the all of the reader feedback, and we do encourage you to keep commenting on the other posts on the topic.

  4. khan quot

    "Although SGB neither approves nor disapproves student groups' choice of speakers, Khan said his board would consider advising the Republicans to pick someone with a less polarizing podium manner"

    Sounds like Khan wants the students to only hear "acceptable" ideas. Khan is not committed to intellectual diversity -- the only kind of diversity which really matters.

    • Anonymous

      Notice how he said "polarizing podium manner" and not simply polarizing. Doesn't sound like it has anything to do with acceptable ideas, just less in your face antognizing speaking skills.

  5. "Polarizer"

    Wasn't Sakib Khan responsible for bringing Norman Finklestein to campus last semester?

  6. Beth Gabor  

    There's a certain irony in the fact that someone who invited Finkelstein to speak at Columbia and tried to prevent opposing student groups from finding out about the event in advance is now advocating not inviting speakers who make incendiary remarks and taunt the audience from the podium. Perhaps his intended method of preventing future embarrassments at Columbia speaking engagements is to completely keep the identities of speakers secret so no one has a chance to protest?

    • well  

      i have observed khan operate in his role as sgb chair, and he always rises above any personal inclinations he might have. he is only human, so of course he has opinions and believes in certain causes, but he's been objective in his role as a student leader, and we should recognize that. also, the finkelstein event allowed people to protest, even inside of it, after security gave the protocol that no signs were allowed. khan was among those who supported the free speech of the audience. i mean this very respectfully, but maybe it would be best for you to rise above your own personal prejudices and give credit where it is due. also, he is commenting on the reaction of the administration, which will probably want to curb some freedom of student groups after this irresponsible incident. at least he gave the republicans the benefit of the doubt by assuming that they actually did want to encourage intellectual debate, as they had stated.

      • what the hell  

        are you talking aabout? i'm tired of this, suspecting karl rove organized events here that weren't meant for 'intellectual' debate. lets say the gilchrist debate was allowed to go on. the next day after the op eds there'd probably have been a bevy of spec op eds, a post w/tons of comments here, and a bunch of hard questions asked at teh events. it would have been more debate on the immigration issue on this campus than anybody can claim has occurred in the last 10 years. bringing hillary clinton doens't challenge the discrouse on this campus. finkelstein, gilchrist and santorum do.

        this is classic blame the victim syndrome and its appalling

        how about we start acting like adults

        (by the way, nobody has yet given difinitve proof that the minutemen are racist or have 'killed' anyone)--this disruption and sakib's suggestion truly suggest columbia will now be a place where thoughtcrimes are stamped out

      • Beth Gabor  

        "khan was among those who supported the free speech of the audience."

        Why did he attempt to keep the identity of the speaker a secret from those who disagreed with him until about a week before the event, and why did he get angry and edit some critical comments into the description of the "private" facebook group devoted to the event after details were leaked to pro-Israel campus groups? In my opinion, that is not a pro-free speech stance. I would say it's unethical to try to limit the ability of protestors to organize by intentionally withholding information from those who don't agree with one's cause (but informing anyone who does agree with it).

        • Beth Gabor  

          To clarify, I don't have any issues with Sakib personally, and I don't mean it to sound like I'm picking on him. I would consider myself a centrist on the Israel-Palestine debate, which I know is a pretty rare species on a topic as polarizing as the mideast. But regardless, I did take issue with the way he handled the Finkelstein event, both because the choice of speaker was rather inflammatory (I think there are many others who argue points similar to Finkelstein's without being nearly so offensive about it) and because the community was not intended to know about the event in advance.

          Perhaps you are right, though, and the Finkelstein issue is simply one too close to my heart. I was one of the protestors outside that event because my family was decimated by the Holocaust and I take issue with the assertion that Jews "abuse" the memory of the Holocaust; I don't think it's possible to discuss something as serious as the Holocaust was too frequently, especially given the fact that it is to this day both a cultural and a personal scar for many Jews. I just wish that Sakib and the other event organizers would have handled things better, and I hope that better judgement is used in the future.

  7. get paid less!

    Transnational corporations are attempting to set up regional economies throughout the world (the European Union being the most well known). President Bush is helping them to create a North American Union with Mexico and Canada under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. The corporate elite have done numerous studies over a couple of decades where they determined that they can make a lot more money if they dissolve borders and eventually countries.

    Those who are volunteering to spend their time advocating open borders or taking a pro-illegal stand are doing the bidding of corporate America! While the former head of the U.S. National Security Council in Latin America, Robert Pastor gets paid to be a corporate cheerleader for a North American parliament, N.A. currency, N.A. passports, N.A. borders, N.A. immigration, etc., a lot of mislead people are freely fighting to help corporations make even more money.

    By design, a North American Union is to compete with populations the size of China and India and therefore the goal is to increase immigration as much as possible in order to decrease the wages of workers! Hence the reason the U.S. Senate tried to pass a bill that would double the amount of immigration allowed into the U.S. each year from 1 million to 2 million. If you are rallying for open borders and illegal aliens, you are unwittingly seeking a race to the bottom for wage depreciation just as members of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on a North American Commnunity hopes for. Members that include board members from Time Warner, banks, etc. The radical left has been hijacked by corporate America!

  8. Amazing..

    Is our campus so far to the left, that someone brought to campus (who if you actually look at things objectively rather than at the screaming rhetoric) that can induce genuine debate about an issue is called non-functional, simply because he is not far to the left? Khan barely bothers to even make a pretense of support. Unbelievable.

  9. indeed  

    "It's a great loss to the Columbia community," said Nick Camp, CC '09. "It's a crime when a Taco Bell closes and no one says a thing."

  10. non-function  

    prob describes the fact that gilchrist, stewart and corsi weren't able to get their message out

  11. overblown any?  

    "truly suggest columbia will now be a place where thoughtcrimes are stamped out"

    yep. because republicans and protesters got into a fistfight at a speaking event, Columbia is now going to start torturing and killing everyone with whom we disagree.

    • again  

      trying to blame republicans w/no evidence

      you asshole. you stormed a stage during a discussion where nothign offensive had even been said. you instigated a fight. we have you giving nazi salutes and shouting obscenities.

      this is a sick school and i hope our funding drive goes down in flames for this

      • Dude  

        Get some rest. You've been trolling for 48 straight hours now, and that's got to take a lot out of ya. You must be dehydrated.

        In serious dicussion: I think one of the bigger issues here is whether any real difference is made politically by the polite discussions we could have here. Take a minute to look up Columbia on Google News -- aside from this, there's no significant news story involving the University at all. Even this story, where (according to the media, at least) students VIOLENTLY ATTACKED a political action group (in quotes!), we got, what, twelve articles? Nine of which are on far-right blogs?

        The country doesn't care about us. We could tear Santorum up -- he could burst into tears on stage and admit all his wrongs -- and it wouldn't make a tiny bit of difference. The AP wouldn't even run the story.

        After this general fiasco, I'm *terrified* of the media. Does anybody really believe that the protesters had a banner denying the Holocaust? I doubt anyone here believes that, but now half the city does, because there's no responsibility in reporting, whatsoever!

        I don't know what solutions to offer to this problem. We're trapped in infamy and obscurity at the same time. We are an effectively powerless generation and that's an important issue to a lot of these protesters and their sympathizers (including me), even if only subconsciously.

  12. well  

    considering the la times and fox news only recently picked it up, you've got to suspect that the media isn't done (maybe has't even started?) yet. the la times and fox news will reach 5+ millions viewers.

    that could suck for this school.

  13. wtf  

    LOL, so the left-wingers in the audience were GIVING NAZI SALUTES? and you have it on video? Why dont you post it on YouTube for all of us to see? Instead of continually crying about how the evil IslamoNaziLeftists are silencing you.

    • yeah  

      if you didn't notice. you guys are assholes and don't care what you do to 'protest'. you only seem to think you can shrug it off cause you actually own concepts of identity and legitimacy in terms of race and culture

      • Uh huh  

        Proof's in the pudding, guy. Until then you're just a jackass who won't put his money where his mouth is.

        And other cliches!

        • hah  

          right now. bwog is 'trying to correct '''spin''''

          yeah. liberal bwog and liberal students at columbia who are now taking it up the pooper don't have a bias on their part.

          • OK, guy  

            You realize that when you use the same phrases over and over it's pretty obvious that you're the same dude, right?

            And would you care to challenge any specific assertions, instead of just leveling ad hominems?

          • what specific  

            assertions? you mean false accusations of racism or inflammatory provocative actions that you have no support for?

            are you surprised the craziness of this event attracted right wing crazies here? and are you seriously trying to call out an anonymous online poster?

  14. Ernest  

    I think this was the best point he made: "'There's a clear bright line between the protest outside and the protest inside," he said. "I'm afraid that the administration is going to blur that line.'"

  15. Ernest  

    (excuse the apostrophe/quotation mark mess)

  16. dear bwog  

    Impact cannot be used as a verb.

  17. Practicality  

    Isn't it obvious? He did it because the vastly powerful Jewish Lobby at Columbia would have shut down the event (see: Ahmedinejad) or ruinedit (see: Intifada)

    Plus, keep in mind he was not acting as a member of the SGB in inviting Finkelstein; he did that as part of a student group

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