It Takes Two, Baby: Harry Khanna

Studying bioengineering while getting involved in UCSD politics, Earl Warren College junior Harry Khanna is a living, breathing juggling act. While campaigning as a presidential candidate for next year’s A.S. Council, Khanna must also handle his current position as A.S. vice president of academic affairs, act as president of the Karaoke Club, socialize with his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and conduct research at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Retina Center.

While others may be overwhelmed by such a schedule, Khanna’s juggling act is still going strong. In fact, according to Khanna, maintaining all his extracurricular activities will allow him to handle his prospective job as president with experience and control.

“I don’t take myself that seriously,” Khanna said. “A.S. can get heated and I think it will be helpful to defuse the situation with light-heartedness and an ability to have fun.”

According to Khanna, his slate, Student Voice!, is based on three general principles: improved access to higher education; student government autonomy; and improvement of the campus climate. Next year, Khanna wishes to “rewrite some of the A.S. rules which are broken and contradictory.”

In light of this past controversial year for the A.S. Council, Khanna discussed some of this year’s biggest issues, including the Student-Run Television shutdown.

“The biggest thing that we can take away from this scandal is that we, as students, must be united in the struggle for student control,” Khanna said, noting that the administration’s “appropriate use policy” for Triton Cable is “dangerous.”

“They’re removing SRTV [from] the students’ jurisdiction and putting it in hands of acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff,” he said. “This is no longer a debate about porn versus no porn. Now we are talking about student control versus no student control. And that is something we can all be united about.”

In light of the financial conflict surrounding the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new budget, which has compromised student outreach, Khanna plans to promote minority-student access to UCSD. He emphasized his general campaign principles, which include the use of lobbying as a mechanism to improved higher education access.

“It is most effective to send delegates to lobby visits where they can speak intelligently on the issues and point out how, by preventing access to higher education, the government is ultimately hurting the state economy in the future,” Khanna said.

According to the Undergraduate Student Satisfaction and Experience report, released this fall, students are dissatisfied with social and cultural life on campus. Khanna said that the main thing compromising student social life is the lack of 24-hour venues on campus.

“I think it would make a huge difference if hang-out spots like coffee shops, lounges and even a library were open,” Khanna said. “It doesn’t cost that much to staff those places and I think students could really benefit from it.”

Moreover, Khanna points out that there is a lack of “campus-unifying” events.

“The Unolympics in the beginning of each new year creates a college-versus-college rivalry that doesn’t even live on throughout the rest of the year,” he said. “There is nothing during Welcome Week that promotes UCSD as a whole. Freshmen get free college shirts but aren’t given any free UCSD shirts. I think it is important to promote UCSD unity right in the beginning as a freshman when everyone’s still eager and willing.”

Khanna said that his experience is what truly sets him apart from his opponent, Earl Warren College senior Daniel Watts.

“A lack of experience makes it difficult to fight effectively against the administration,” Khanna said. “Watts is skillful at detecting problems, [but] due to his lack of experience, he has no concrete ideas on how to fix them.”

A college chameleon, Khanna hopes to apply all of his varied experience to the job of A.S. president. And while some may believe that political science is the most suitable background for the job, Khanna thinks that his bioengineering studies prepare him for it.

“An engineer is a judicious problem solver,” he said. “A.S. clearly has some problems right now and I’ve been trained to solve these problems.”