Letter to the Editor: Outgoing A.S. President Ali Khan reflects on the end of a tenure

If there was one word that would collectively define the year Associated Students experienced, I would choose tumultuous. A regular week in AS includes long hours of contentious meetings, stressful deadlines, and few hours of sleep while balancing school with work. Its no surprise we experienced a good number of vacancies throughout the year and a few aggrandized dramatic extravaganzas that ended up in the paper. Through all of the stress and dismay students experience working in AS there is a beautiful collective good hidden within the walls of the Cayton Center that is unlike any other I've experienced. While most think of AS as either a bank account or a place to receive free student amenities I have come to find that AS is in fact a space for an unconventional education. Education on what you might wonder? One could learn about politics, philosophy of morality, business administration, counseling, finance, and legislation just to brush the surface. What I learned most about from being involved with AS though, was relationships. At the end of the day all of the decisions made and their implicit impacts are driven by the relationship with oneself and those around you. Teams filled with unparalleled talent and little chemistry are bound to perform beneath expectations. Think of Kobe with Gary Payton and Karl Malone, the house of representatives with the Senate, or even Kim and Kanye. Strong relationships and effective leadership will make the difference in any cohesive team. It took our elected board a while to find that balance but we were lucky to have plenty of help along the way.

The kind of help we received cannot be bought for any price. The brave souls who dare step into the constant internal strife AS faces possess only the most genuine and caring hearts known to mankind. This is because there is no tangible benefit for stepping into the troubles of AS outside of hoping to see a crowd of happy students on the other side of the tunnel. A special thanks needs to be given to people like Dr. Crenshaw, Vice President Tuitasi, Counselor Benny Blaydes, Hasun Khan, Dean Hearn, Phillip Brazian, Michelle Harrison, Amelia Trejo, all student workers, commissioners, and the faculty who came to the aid of the students when it mattered the most. Without whom none of our events, ideas, legislation, scholarships, advocacy,Big Blue Bus contract, and initiatives like student success awards or food vouchers would have been possible. But of course, hidden within all of this turmoil and joy melted together is the polarizing figure we affectionately call Dean Bridges. When I first met Dean Bridges it was apparent she would be one of my closest friends and also top competitors. Sonali brings a passionate attitude as well as a confident resolve to the table. Many will say she can be contentious, a tad overwhelming, or too involved with students. I however would contend that Sonali's heart possesses a genuine urge to do what she believes right by all of those she meets.

What is "right" is subjective in the minds of all interested parties, the AS directors included. The Associate Dean is tasked with juggling the appeasement of the student body along with maintaining the interests of the District. Though the students and the district may not always see eye to eye I fully believe that Sonali's intentions have been of earnest benevolence. When events are almost canceled due to impending deadlines, Sonali stays well after the office is closed to ensure the students needs are met. When resources AS needs are difficult to find, Sonali picks up her phone and refuses to set it down until the job is done. Most importantly though, when students welfare is in harms way Sonali will go above and beyond her job description to help in any way she can. Through it all I know we have both grown to be good friends and a cohesive work tandem. It is unfortunate that every year AS is surrounded by levels of contention. Some of this contention comes from the large budget, a part from students involved, and of course the campus atmosphere contributes at times. But above all AS is about ensuring the students are rep represented properly. Sometimes this entails upsetting a few people to ensure the collective good is upheld. Luckily for the students, the next board is coming in bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to serve students for another grueling term. I wish them the best of luck and hope that the students of Santa Monica College are provided the same kind of opportunity I myself was blessed to receive and was proud to support. In the special thanks I meant to mention TK Florey, Hamza Sabri, Andrea Gonzales, Nehasi Lee, Maya Kaitel, Courtney King, Kishore Athreya, Joel, Jessica, and Rizwan Rashid.