UCF President John Hitt hosted an open forum in the Student Union’s Key West Ballroom at 11:30 a.m. Monday morning for UCF students to ask any questions they may have.
But despite clearing 1 ½ hours of his schedule and sending a campus-wide e-mail invitation out last week, only two students came to ask questions, so the forum adjourned about 15 minutes after it started.
After the forum adjourned, KnightNews.com conducted an exclusive interview with President Hitt to ask what he thought about the meeting.
Although he commented that the forums usually last longer, he was not completely surprised to see how quickly it ended. He elaborated on this claim by saying that very few questions indicate students’ contentment with how the University is run.
Those who did ask the two questions represented various student organizations across campus and used this forum as an opportunity to gain the university’s support for their causes.
The first student, a representative of “Eco-Advocates,” boldly asked about the university’s support of the “Green Fee,” which is a petition to pass a 75-cent per-credit-hour tuition fee to help campus sustainability efforts.
The representative claimed that, ultimately, the university would save money, and he wondered how he would be able to gain the Board of Trustees’ support. He also mentioned that SGA backs the Green Fee, although it did not pass on last year’s vote.
President Hitt responded by suggesting that he get experts in energy matters to vet the bill. Additionally, he said that a continued endorsement from SGA would help to get the bill passed, since the students would be the ones paying the fee.
The next student, a representative from “Eco-Advocates” and the Students for a Democratic Society, was very forthright in her question, claiming that the University infringed on students’ First Amendment rights. Specifically, she asked how the University “gets away” with not having the entire campus be a “free speech zone,” since it is a public university.
President Hitt responded by saying that the University does not infringe upon the students’ rights, and deferred the question to another University official, who claimed that students can assemble anywhere on campus, as long as they are not disruptive to classes or pedestrians.
The official claimed that the situation would be different, however, for groups who are not affiliated with the campus, who need special permission to promote their cause.
President Hitt said he was not sure when the next forum would be held, but the University tries to conduct at least one every semester.
If you have any questions that you’d like us to ask at the next forum, please leave them in a comment on this page.