I met Kamal Bilal in the Fall of 2014 when we were both incoming freshman and roommates. Shortly after, I found out about his aspirations to become ASUR president. He has recently achieved his goal, as Kamal was elected as ASUR president and was sworn into the position on Wednesday. The athlete, artist, rapper, Johnston student, and now student body president of The University of Redlands is humble and thoughtful. Often he gives the appearance of being a quiet person, but when the time comes, he is quite vocal and eloquent. With such a multi-talented and passionate person, the best place to start is at the beginning.
Learning a bit about Kamal’s past sheds some light on his current ventures. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Kamal has always been very involved. When he was in 8th grade, he won The Money Smart Kid award, making him the ambassador of the Federal Reserve in Chicago for a year. He comments: “I was hella busy in high school with soccer, basketball, homework and a social life all at the same time–dude forget it.”
In college, Kamal has maintained this high level of dedication and involvement. During his freshman year at U of R, Kamal began plans for a summer camp to put on in Chicago. The camp, Eye Love You, is an inner-city camp where local youth get a chance to practice art, sports and learn about healthy living. Eye Love You has had one successful session so far in Chicago and is now gearing up for this coming summer. Last year Kamal threw an all campus party to raise money for it, combining his passions to help people and promote student artists. Kamal will be teaching a class in the fall of 2017 involving the camp, that aims to motivate and guide projects that empower communities. In the past few years Kamal has been involved in many organizations around campus like BLACC (Brilliant Leaders Advocating Color Consciousness), Enactus (a green business club), and student government. He has also written a few articles for the Bulldog Weekly. Kamal has also been a forward for the Men’s soccer team for the last two years, most recently winning the SCIAC championships and making it to the NCAA Elite Eight this past December.
He spends his summers not only running the camp he created, but also collaborating and making art with his friends. He is a very passionate and talented rapper who performs under the pseudonym Rick Ph7air. Also known as Ricky, he has made his own albums, videos and cover art. Kamal is also a talented photographer and graphic designer. Kamal is passionate about many forms of art but especially sharing and creating with others. Rick Ph7air recently performed at the event Green Slam, put on by ASUR social affairs and SEA (Students for Environmental Action). I am excited for more performances by Ricky at great events the entire campus can enjoy.
I sat with the tall, athletic, and balanced Chicago-native as he held a cold Mexican import between his hands and asked him a few questions in anticipation of being sworn in as ASUR president.
When did you first want to run for president and why?
“I wanted to be president my freshmen year, but I couldn’t haha, so I became vice-president for BLACC. After that I wanted more experience in student government so I joined Senate, then Cabinet…I want to have influence on this campus, use my privilege of being in many different groups to hear different student voices…. I just know I like to serve, to put people in a position to succeed, and I think being president is a great way to do that. I just want to have a positive impact on a lot of people.”
What movie always makes you cry?
Marley and Me and King Kong are two movies that I cried hella hard in.
What will be your main priorities when you take office?
“My main priorities are bon appetite reform, compost, Greek life, specifically the party policy, and transparency. But I’m already working on these right things now, so next semester we will have different stuff to work on”
What message would you like to send to the student body?
“I want people to know that if they want something to happen, let’s try to make it happen. If you get a few people together with an idea or project in mind for the University, we can do it. I want to make myself very accessible so I can not only support with new ideas but also make communications more clear between the school and students…My cabinet and I will be available around campus, in SLIC and online, so contact us.” Kamal_Bilal@redlands.edu
Today’s political climate is dividing and deep-seated. It effects everyone to a different extent, but is palpable on this campus. Kamal Bilal is a multi-talented leader who brings a new energy, perspective and mission. It will be exciting to see how Kamal handles all that is to come in the upcoming year.