Bilal Khan was elected Vice President, Finance and Administration (VPFA) in last year’s Brock University Students’ Union executive election, a position fitting for a Bachelor of Accounting student. Since taking on the role, he has been busy at work bringing to life the platform on which he was elected. He recently made time to discuss his vision and goals with The Brock Press to share with the Brock University community.
The VPFA acts as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for BUSU and provides oversight to the Health and Dental Plan as well as the Universal Bus Pass. This position also handles the internal affairs on campus and sit as a member of the University Senate, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining such faculties, schools, institutes, departments, chairs, and courses.
“As much as [a background in finance and accounting is] not necessarily a requirement for this position, it helps the individual as well as the organization a lot,” said Khan.
One of the key areas of responsibility for the VPFA is transit solutions for Brock students, including the often controversial, bus pass.
“What we’ve been lacking historically is the planning and communication that should go into transit,” said Khan. “We’ve been in dialogue with Thorold City Council for the past four months discussing how we can move forward, renew our relationship and maintain it. That is in the best interest of our constituents as well as the constituents of the municipality of Thorold.”
Khan discussed recent changes to the coverage students receive through the BUSU health and dental plan, including efforts by the outgoing executive team to fund mental health care. True to his election platform, Khan has already put in work to expand vision coverage for students. Most notably, Khan commended the initiative to add elder support for Indigenous students to the health and dental plan that has been spearheaded by BUSU President, Aidan Hibma.
Improving the communication between BUSU and the student population was another component of Khan’s election platform that he has continued to focus on within the role.
“I found students were not aware of what BUSU is, what we do, the services we offer, and how they can access all the services we offer through the fees they provide us with,” said Khan.
In terms of addressing this issue, Khan cited the team effort to change BUSU’s organizational culture, with every member striving to find how best to reach the students. Khan credits social media as the primary communication channel used, though he hopes BUSU can continue to find creative ways to reach students.
Khan acknowledged that addressing inequity on campus is a top priority for the executive team this year. While they have not created any concrete plans yet, he praised the work of Director, Student Equity & Inclusion Carole Moss, and the Social Justice Centre. Khan acknowledged the work of the Student Justice Centre and the full-time staff dedicated to equity concerns on campus, while also highlighting that the executive team plans to do what they can within their roles to promote equity on campus.
When asked what he hoped to learn from Brock students, Khan did not hesitate to answer: “their concerns, first. I realize and appreciate that students are educated enough to propose solutions, as well.” Noting the perception that BUSU listens to student complaints then formulates solutions in a vacuum, he hopes to work with students to solve the issues they face together.
“[The executive team is] elected to represent them and serve them. We are always here; the door is always open for students to come in, chat with us, learn about what we do and what we are up to, share their concerns, and share any ideas they have to make our organization better, and serve the student body better,” said Khan.
“We try to make ourselves available through many different channels, whatever is best for individual students to use to reach to us and hold us accountable to our mandates and the promises we have made to the students.”