Faculty member leaves university to create change
THE SANTA CLARA
October 24, 2013
Ro Khanna, the grandson of a human rights activist in Mahatma Gandhi’s independence movement, has been on his own mission to reform the current U.S. government system with his forward-looking, Silicon Valley mentality. The law professor is running for Congress to represent California’s 17th District.
Khanna has had a relationship with Santa Clara for several years. He gave lectures at the university while working for the Obama administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce. More recently, he has taught as a professor in the law school.
With his motto, “to bring Silicon Valley thinking to Washington,” Khanna wants to see the government use technology more effectively. According to Khanna, the recent problems with Obama’s Affordable Care Act website “would never have happened with a Silicon Valley company.”
A class taught by Khanna last spring semester focused on how to make the American economy more competitive and support job creation in Silicon Valley and the U.S.
Khanna said that Santa Clara made him “aware and educated about the concerns of young people today.” He also learned about the use of technology in the classroom and the challenges that young graduates face with the job market.
Khanna’s outspokenness on promoting education affordability and accessibility stemmed from his class discussions about student debt and loans.
The relationships that Khanna built with his students have been the highlight of his time at Santa Clara. He fondly remembers getting lunch with some of them and getting to know them personally.
“What I loved is that the students often would stay after class,” he said. “They were so bright, so passionate and so engaged.”
He is still supervising the papers of some of his students.
Khanna believes that his array of experiences gives him an advantage. Aside from his work with Santa Clara and the Obama administration, Khanna has taught at Stanford University, written a book and practiced technology law. Following the belief that career politicians have led to the disarray in Congress, Khanna thinks, “It’s really important for people who want to go into politics to have a diverse set of life experiences.”
Jeremy Bird, Obama’s 2012 national field director, is Khanna’s general campaign consultant.
Khanna said, “For any student who’s interested in politics, it’s a great campaign to get involved with to learn about the latest, cutting edge technology of how to run a 21st century campaign.”
Many of his former students have already been involved through volunteering, attending the launch of the event and by knocking on doors and canvassing.
Khanna said that he can alleviate the “cynicism right now about politics where people feel Washington is disconnected from their lives.”
He has not taken any money from lobbyists, federal political action committees or special interest groups. In fact, 90 percent of his campaign money has come from small businesses and local individuals from Northern California, including the Santa Clara community.
Khanna is “proud to be affiliated with Santa Clara ” and inspires Santa Clara students “to make a difference and help make politics better.”
Contact Eryn Olson at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.