posted 2012-03-07 21:15:15

Hunter Mourns the loss of Taha Chandoo, USG Senator

Kimberly Devi Milner, Associate News Editor

Taha Chandoo, a sophomore student and senator in Hunter College’s Undergraduate Student Government passed away last month after a long battle with leukemia.

Chandoo, an international student from Tanzania, was in his final stages of chemotherapy at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ), according to Undergraduate Student Government members. The USG senator returned to LIJ for extended stays over the winter break. His death was confirmed by messages on his personal Facebook page.

USG staff elected Chandoo to his position last Fall. “I knew he was going to be in USG,” said Academic Affairs Commissioner Eli Cohen after meeting the international student for the first time. USG members interviewing Chandoo for the senate seat were struck by his appreciation for life’s beauties, said fellow senator Benedict Josen.

During the interview Chandoo recalled climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa’s highest mountain, said Josen. He also emphasized his belief in the importance of diversity.

Working in the Evening Affairs Committee, Chandoo helped organize last Fall’s USG poetry slam, the Thanksgiving festival and a “Final Freak Out” party. “He was excited for the opportunity to throw a party,” said Jasmine Anokye, the USG evening affairs commissioner. “This semester he was going to work on another multicultural event,” said Anokye.

According to information released by the USG, Chandoo attended Al-Muntazir Islamic Seminary in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and became student body leader of the high school in 2005, where he conducted morning assemblies and organized school events.

On arriving to New York for the 2007 academic year, Chandoo enrolled at SUNY Plattsburgh and became the vice president of the college’s Asian Society. He was also a member of Plattsburgh’s International Student Services, providing tours and helping foreign students get acquainted with the campus.

Chandoo continued serving the student body at Hunter. “He’s always been a really active member,” said USG President Ranette Garcia. Garcia said not many USG members knew of Chandoo’s condition, adding that the senator told few USG members about his struggle with cancer to avoid disquieting anyone.

Chandoo studied in the Hospital and Health Care field, according to his LinkedIn account. “His number one goal would be to cure cancer,” said Christina Chaise, a senior USG senator. But many USG members who knew Chandoo also remembered his fedoras and fashion aspirations. “[Chandoo] said he wanted to work in fashion,” said Josen, but decided to pursue medical studies and intended to major in nursing.

In a faculty picture on the USG’s homepage, Chandoo kneels behind a USG banner in a black and white pom-pom hat and matching scarf. Around the office, USG members called Chandoo the “spicy- stylish Indian man from Africa,” said Chaise.

The USG has taken down the framed pictures of all USG representatives and staff that usually hang above the front desk except for Chandoo’s, and are deliberating how else they can commemorate the senator.

“If you saw him he was always smiling – he always seemed happy,” said Anokye, “Taha put a lot of people before himself.”