By: RANDALL MOSSMAN
With his professional attire, confident strut and strong demeanour, you would swear that IU made a mistake when they listed Shail Bhagat as a sophomore.
But in the short time he has been at IU South Bend, Bhagat has already compiled an impressive track record, and he only plans to add to it.
Bhagat, a current senator for the SGA, is one of two presidential candidates running to replace the graduating Hannah Van. He is double majoring in human resource management and health care management. His experience also includes roles in the IU Student Advisory Board, as an orientation leader and a peer mentor.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Dean of Students Karen White has known Bhagat since he first came to IUSB. She met him on move-in day at student housing. “I ran into his mom,” she said. “She was in tears. She was very anxious about leaving him.”
On that day, White comforted Bhagat’s mother with words of assurance. “I will take care of him,” she recalled saying. “He will be my adopted son.”
Since that day, White has seen Bhagat develop into an SGA presidential candidate. “Outstanding young man,” White said. “Committed. Focused. I’m honored to know him.”
Though Bhagat has become an integral part of the SGA, he wasn’t originally planning for it to work out that way. He wanted to transfer to Bloomington, but when he experienced IUSB’s sense of community, he changed his mind.
“It has become like a family to me,” Bhagat said.
Bhagat believes that he could be an excellent representative for IUSB students, and the university as a whole. “I could represent students and their problems on the organizational level, because I would be in direct contact with the chancellor and the board of trustees,” Bhagat said.
One of the main issues that Bhagat is campaigning on is a reformed version of the new banded tuition system. He cited the fact that many students at IUSB are non-traditional, and that banded tuition may not work in their favor.
“It is quite hard to take 15 credit hours and still work and look after the family,” he said. “I think it’s a great policy for traditional students, but it has some flaws which need to be addressed as per campus needs.”
Bhagat wants to add an exemption to the policy for students who may be financially strapped.
“Exemptions for students who have crucial financial needs,” Bhagat said. “They cannot afford to lose $600 for three credit hours. In total, it might be somebody’s two months’ rent. I want them to have an exemption for students like that.”
Another issue that Bhagat is pushing for is to have more enthusiasm over events on campus, as well as increasing the amount of school pride.
“I want to see events on campus that are more targeted towards student involvement and having a feeling that you’re a Titan,” he said. Bhagat used IUPUI as an example of how students have really embraced their school, and how you see IUPUI Jaguars gear everywhere.
“I think there needs to be a hype,” Bhagat said. “Having events that build a friendship on campus.”
One way that Bhagat wants to create hype is by tapping into the diversity that IUSB has. He believes that around 30 different languages are spoken on campus. “Having an event where it’s using a song in 30 different languages and having a huge concert at IUSB, that is something that would attract students here,” he said. “That idea is novel. It’s creative.”
Bhagat thinks that his biggest asset is his creativity. “Ideas for solving things and strategizing in a creative way that has an impact.” His creative, problem solving skills were on display when he took campaign flyers with uneven edges and turned them into bookmarks. “Most people would either throw it away or start a new one. I used what resources I already had and tried to make it the best of what I can.”
While experience helps, Bhagat believes that the most important thing to achieving what you aspire to be is to have a passion. “The one thing that I think everybody should have is the drive and passion to change and make changes that have an impact,” he said.
Bhagat said that one of things driving him is his love for people, and he cited that love as the reason he is majoring in human resource management. “I believe that, under right circumstances, you can make anyone grow and flourish,” he said. “Everyone has the potential in them, you just have to give them the right situation and the right resources.”
In the future, Bhagat wants to be the CEO of a company. He thinks that his skills would serve him well in that role. “It’s a duty of a leader to help others flourish as well,” he said. “At the same time, you have to grow, you have to learn so that you can help others better.”