SGA officials threatened to call UCF Police on KnightNews.com reporters for covering the SGA election outside the Student Union Monday.

This new right of access controversy comes after KnightNews.com threatened to take legal action against SGA, and had to contact attorneys who oversee Florida’s State University System, in order to get a copy of the $15 million budget SGA has been blasted for allocating over Winter Break when dorms were closed and most students were not in town.
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Today’s controversy started when KnightNews.com content manager and reporter Cliff Jett was setting up a table to establish a live video stream of the election activity happening outside the union to provide live reports and interviews with candidates and voters.

As KnightNews.com tried setting up the table, a member of the Kilbride/Lochrane campaign was seen walking toward the election commission.

Minutes later, a staff member of the Student Union, an SGA entity over which Shane Chism has some authority in his official capacity of Comptroller, came and told KnightNews.com it couldn’t set up a table — even in the free speech area.

KnightNews.com reporters then abandoned our livestream coverage attempt, and instead talked to students about the election on camera.

As that was happening, Comptroller Chism — and Kilbride campaigner — walked up to a KnightNews.com crew and said, “Didn’t they tell you you weren’t allowed to record?”

Chism then proceeded to walk over the election commission and brought an election commissioner over, who could not be immediately identified, who also said, “Didn’t the people from the Union tell you you weren’t allowed to record?”

The KnightNews.com crew informed the SGA officials the Union only said a table could not be set up. At this point, KnightNews.com walked inside the Union and talked to the information desk about Chism confronting us. The employee at the information desk called upstairs, and a decision was made to allow KnightNews.com to record on another side of the sidewalk.

Knightnews.com crews then stood on the side of the line where recording was not allowed, with our cameras packed away out of sight, and discussed the legal and first amendment issues raised by forbidding campus media to fully cover the election.

At that point, SGA Chief Election Commissioner Marlee Populder and KnightNews.com owner Andrew Stein discussed the situation together. Stein said it was ridiculous for them to tell media they can’t record video, when media always conducts interviews in that space near the Union on a regular basis.

Stein asked what SGA would do if we recorded on the other side of the line anyway, and it was at that point when Popluder informed Stein, as a courtesy, that other SGA officials were threatening to call the police on KnightNews.com if they shot video over the sidewalk.

During this time, a student was taking pictures of the Kilbride campaign and interviewing his campaigners on the side of the line KnightNews.com was forbidden from doing “any media stuff” on. KnightNews.com took a photo of that individual taking photos on that side of the line to document the additional access he was given.

It appeared this student was part of a competing media organization on campus, but it’s not clear why that student was granted more access than KnightNews.com. However, Kilbride campaigners were posing for pictures as the individual was gathering information, and we did not see any Kilbride campaigners or SGA elections officials order that person to the other side of the line.

Similar controversies have erupted before about who can setup where outside the Union, but they usually involved student groups protesting, like Students for a Democratic Society. This is the first time KnightNews.com is aware of a media organization being ordered to the other side of the line.

Another group ordered to the other side of the line was the El Corral restaurant, which was out endorsing the Seeff/Wolkenfeld campaign, because they were not a campus-approved vendor and it apparently violated contract rights Union vendors have to serve food outside the Union.

However, since media are not serving any food, it raises serious first amendment issues for SGA to order a student publication to stand on one side of the line, while another is not given such restrictions.

KnightNews.com is researching the legality of granting one media organization less access than another, and also whether Chism may have overstepped his power during the controversy.

KnightNews.com is once again considering legal action as a result of these access issues, and the harm it suffered while trying to prove its ability to cover the most important event this semester. A copy of this article is being forwarded to the UCF General Counsel, UCF Police, UCF Union Managment, SGA Advisors with the hope that a compromise can be made, before KnightNews.com once again contacts state officials in Tallahassee to ask them to intervene.

Check back for more information on this developing story.

A note from KnightNews: Even though NikkiNicho is upset with some content of KnightNews.com, we appreciate her comments and dialogue, as she has pointed out to us Free Speech is becoming a problem again at UCF. As a result, KnightNews.com is starting a new segment: Our Fight for Free Speech. We will follow this story.


KnightNews.com promises to fight for you, no matter what your message is, to give you free speech on campus. If you or your RSO is being silenced by anyone at UCF, KnightNews.com wants to know. Please e-mail us at news@knightnews.com reporting any activity you feel violates your free speech. KnightNews.com does want to know: If UCF employees think nothing of pushing around campus media, would they give any second thought to doing it to the voiceless? We want to give you that voice and promise to stand with any student — regardless of message, SGA political beliefs, or which campus media outlet they work at — in fighting for your Free Speech.

51 COMMENTS

  1. Charakteryzuje sie tym, ze na skladzie ksiegarza sortymentowego sa ksiazki wielu wydawcow, notorycznie wziete w komis.. obecnie bez mala kazda ksiegarnia ma kregoslup sortymentowej (procz ksiegarni wydawnictw). W zaleznosci od formy pracy rozroznia sie: komis (zakup ksiazek z prawem zwrotu), ksiegarstwo antykwaryczne (sprzedaz ksiazki dawnej dodatkowo wyczerpanej), kolporterstwo (bezposrednie rozprowadzania ksiazek w srodowiskach oddalonych odkad ksiegarn).

  2. It had nothing to do with PIDs. In fact, where they restricted KnightNews too, they’d be able to more easily see someone’s PID because they were away from the Elections Commission/oversight, and there were still people voting in the area KnightNews was restricted to.

    It had to do with KnightNews fighting for public records… which UCF and SGA were trying to hide.

  3. We need to know the reason Knightsnews.com couldn’t be there. It could have been a safety concern for all we know and what students rights said about the PIDs makes perfect sense. please more info.

  4. @students’ rights

    You make a good point about the privacy concerns but there is no need to make hateful racist comments like you did. That was completely uncalled for and there is no justification for it.

  5. When people call knightnews the fox news of UCF, they are right. Fox news has a news side and opinion side. Fox has O’Reilley. Fox has Brett Bair.

    You call KnightNews corrupt and biased… but they wrote an editorial and called it that, just like fox news calls oreilley and hannity opinion talk news.

    It’s the future. Deal with it. Fox News = #1.

    And knightnews did break that budget scandal wide open. They know what they’re doing.

  6. KnightNews has completely lost their credibility with me. You guys have gone so downhill and wacko with everything about this election. You guys endorsed Daniel/Kevin… great… So do I… but you claimed you are an unbiased new source for the students, yet everything you have done hear has slashed the other campaign. You should be fair, and because of all this nonsense as of recent, I have to say I am extremely disappointed.

    I will still visit your website, but I have to say you guys are dooming yourself in the long run if these types of actions are going to be common in the future.

  7. @SDS/@@NikkiNicho
    If you are really in/were in the UCF SDS you would know that the administration is NOT SGA. They are separate legal entities. The grounds in this article are managed by Event Services, and have little to nothing to do with President Hitt.
    I have not “bought into” the lies of the “system” I know the systems, while you apparently don’t even know which system you are talking about.
    SGA belongs to the students! What we need to do is fight the administration, and sometimes work with the administration, to make it a more effective tool for students to advocate for their issues.
    What we don’t need is a bunch of whiners who only want to slap down something cool on their resume (while abusing the progressive community in the process).
    What it means to be progressive is to understand the system, and find the roots of the problems. Comptroller Chism is not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is that most students do not want to be involved in SGA, and there is not enough transparency/understanding in the Event Services office.
    There are ways to fix this, and they are being worked on right now (like I said, if anyone wants to help with the frees speech coalition, message me @ NikkiNicho@gmail.com). The answer is not removing the A&SF, the answer is not attacking Chism or anyone currently in SGA.

  8. did anyone think about why recording wasn’t allowed? students are entering in their PIDs (basically your ucf social security #) and password. who knows what knightnews was doing by trying to record. it’s about protecting the rights of non-consenting students. knightnews, you suck.

    attn: andrew stein’s jew factory, no one wants you to lead our campus because you’re ugly, ruthless, and only care about one thing, building your pathetic resumes for when you return to the rat hole known as boca.

  9. Actually it doesn’t matter that they are annonymois. The record regarding the owners is public info. If they were to be sued, the owner would be the one sued with them having to provide a list of names of the contributors and evidence supporting who produced all the stories in question. Anonimity does not protect them THAT much.

  10. Will be interesting to see what the real lawyers end up saying — we all know it’s coming.

    I just saw the Editor of the Future out taking pictures outside of the box. Looks like they are ignoring this rule too.

  11. I have taken the same comm law class as well as both Con Laws and a handful of others before I graduated last spring. I stick by my opinion that KN has no case. The CFF was not out there interviewing people in the same way that KN has and KN has shown no want to display there news on campus as is the case with the CFF. Not to mention that the CFF, through their owner, has a legal agreement with the school to place their boxes on university on property. Yes they can restrict for time, place, manner but the SGA, and more specifically the election commission, has the right and duty under the UCF SGA Constitution to regulate elections, which this is and in their opinion this could have been a problem which they have the power to act upon. This case would go no where in court. Remember in the case of Morse v. Frederick the SCOTUS held that public schools could regulate the first amendment rights of students at school-sponsored events.

  12. A similar thing happened two weeks ago with the Young Communist League trying to get people to sign a petition about something.

  13. Andrew Stein, you are pathetic. Quit creating fake controversies and spreading lies. Everyone knows that your butt still hurts from losing the election last year. Unfortunately, your friends are nowhere near qualified, so you use this fake news site to spread lies and nonsense. It’s doing more harm than good. Just stop.

  14. Chris I diagree with you. According to my mass comm law class, the area near the Union where KnightNews.com was banned from, also has several Central Florida Future newspaper stands.

    If UCF allows one news source to practice free speech in that area, it is illegal to restrict another one. You can only restrict with time, place and manner, and it has to be as narrowly tailored as possible. You can see from the video there is no good reason they can interview someone on one side of the sidewalk but not the other, when students can come and go right there.

    I think KnightNews may have a lot of money to do more El Corral videos once this lawsuit plays out. UCF is creating a monster.

  15. From a strictly legal standpoint KnightNews.com has no case. This is state property and it is a college. If one were to look at Supreme Court cases concerning the first amendment and college campuses you would see that very little rights exist.

  16. Knight News…. you don’t even have the balls to sign your own news stories…. is that because you don’t want charges of slander/libel directly?

    When Seeff/Wolkenfeld lose you will wish you had spent more time campaigning rather than writing this.

  17. If these guys are so bad, why didn’t Austin Smith or NORML or any of the other progressive leaders endorse the other side?

    Whether you like Knight News, the Future, being progressive or conservative, these rules are oppressive and unjust.

    If UCF is bold enough to fight Knight News and the Future when they are just using the first amendment to cover the news, imagine what they’ll do if you hold an anti-war rally or something like that. If they will ignore the first amendment for Knight News, when UCF knows it may sue them over this, imagine what they’ll do to students without a blog to fight back.

    This is absolutely horrifying.

  18. @SDS
    The fight mentioned here is not the same kind of fight you took up. This organization is abusing the progressive message and trying to say that they have been singled out in this issue for political purposes (Daniel/Kevin campaign).
    They are providing false and misleading information about the comptroller (Chism) in order to make it appear as if his involvement in the Peterson administration is corrupt (and therefore the opposing ticket is corrupt).
    However, it is disgusting that these people are abusing the progressive message, knowing full and well that progressive community has worked for YEARS to get the people supporting this website and that ticket OUT OF OFFICE for being obscenely corrupt!

    We actually are forming a coalition right now to work on free speech issues (because, yes, they ARE back again). This coalition is of various individuals and student organizations who are working to fight free speech zoning and the oppression of free speech on campus (except for where otherwise necessary by law). If anyone cares to get involved in a REAL movement of change on campus.

  19. @ Mike Mordaci
    This is the response that everyone who really gives a shit about students fears. SGA is a resource for students to express themselves and advocate for their beliefs to the administration and other parts of the government.
    If people people like those running Knightnews keep up with these false accusations and nihilistic methods of mediation, there may not be an A&SF budget next year.
    You are incorrect in your facts, the faculty senate cannot touch SGA, but Knightnews isn’t bothering them. They are contacting people in the Board of Governors and Florida legislature (or so the allege). These are the people who, year after year, discuss taking away the A&SF because they feel students are too childish to handle it.
    I don’t think it is fair that all students and all student organizations should have to be punished because the people running Knightnews are a bunch of lying, whining, brats who need to know how to follow simple procedures.
    That is part of college, learning how to navigate your way through society and work with the systems in place to get what you need, or take the opportunity to make changes for the better.
    Sounds to me like freshman Cliff Jett hasn’t learned how to do this yet. Stand up against Knightnews, DON’T LET THEM RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE!

  20. I was wondering how long it would take for the Central Florida Future editors to get upset at George and me for posting. It took 3 hours to scold me and 10 minutes to scold George. We got an email shortly after George posted stating that we’re not allowed to leave comments on our Web site or any other UCF publications. It’s just a little absurd though considering that we’re taught that reporters who engage with the community through its online elements are more likely to encourage returning readers. Maybe I simply misunderstood the professors encouraging to respond to comments that request further clarification.

  21. This fraud is getting out of hand! Everyone knows this whole election is a fraud and SGA is a complete joke and whoever wins will be completely wasting our money and spending irresponsibly to support these idiots who bicker of the most ignorant pointless BS. Whoever wins will elect a cabinet or campaign supporters and corrupt individuals to continue on the SGA tradition. I think it is time that UCF Faculty Senate jumps in and completely takes action against this behavior. This election should be called off and everyone currently involved in SGA should be impeached for aiding in corruption and all new people need to be put in place. You guys are making every student at UCF hate SGA more than they already did. UCF faculty needs to take control of these little kids that think they are politicians when really are they are is a bunch of power hungry elitists with nothing better to with their time. Another form of Illuminati on the college level!

  22. I was taking pictures of the campaign outside of the Student Union today, and I believe I am the photographer you are referencing in the article. I would like to point out that I was not granted the extra access you claimed I received. I will admit that I did take pictures outside of the so called free speech zone without the knowledge that I was not allowed to do so, but after about five minutes I was ordered into the free speech zone just like every other media organization, including Knight News. I find it unfair and inaccurate for Knight News to claim that I received extra access when I in fact did not. I agree that it seems more than a little unfair for media organizations to be made to report in a small free speech zone, but, as stated below by other posters, every other media organization has to put up with the same thing.

  23. Absolutely absurd. Stein and KnightNews, go back to being a blog about gossip with no journalistic integrity whatsoever. You all are trying to do whatever it takes to win this election and its horrible to see you all trying to destroy the credibility of the university, its current SGA, and the other ticket for the race.

    Stick to gossip, friends. It’s the only thing you’re good at.

  24. Seriously guys, if you want Knightnews to be taken seriously as a legitimate news organization, then act like it. The Central Florida Future has been pushed around, threatened and ignored just like everyone else in the past. SGA at UCF is a corrupt entity as it has been since I went to school there. I worked as an Editor at CFF and we never got preferential treatment. We had press passes which basically amounted to nothing because you still had to get prior permission for ANYTHING. Don’t act like you guys are being singled out, because you’re not. And your slogan: “from serious to hilarious” it doesn’t fly. Either you’re a satirical publication which prints rumors and gossip, or you’re an authentic news source that does interviews and fact checking. You can’t have it both ways, sorry.

  25. So, the blog that competes with the future has written a piece about being in front of the Student Union, and all but accused the Central Florida Future of having preferential treatment, as far as access goes, to the area around campus. Anyone who has worked for the future for any period of time knows this isn’t true. The Future get asked to leave from as many places as anyone else.

    If we are approached by anyone working for this blog, and asked any question concerning the Central Florida Future, we are not to answer or respond with anything.

    If this happens, we give them the editor’s phone number and name, and tell them that he is the ONLY one who can speak officially on behalf of the newspaper as a whole.

    If we are outdoors and on campus, and we are approached by anyone from the UCF administration – anyone wearing a Pegasus logo – and they ask us to leave the area or move to a different area, we know that we are standing on public property. Any threats of calling the police are empty. In that situation, we also give them the editor’s and proceed to obtain their name and title.

  26. I can understand why the Student Union would not want non-student organizations in the building, but as tutition paying students they should have full rights. If they are stopping Knightnews, I guess the Future will also be having some problems, seeing as they are in the same situation. The only difference is that Knightnews is student owned while the Future is owned by an independent company. I hope that the ones who stop Knightnews will either rethink the situation or ban the Future as well. I hope it is the former considering student news sources are a great way to connect student government to “regular” students.

  27. “Similar controversies have erupted before about who can setup where outside the Union, but they usually involved student groups protesting, like Students for a Democratic Society. This is the first time KnightNews.com is aware of a media organization being ordered to the other side of the line.”

    This sounds too much like “the first amendment matters, but only when it involves me”. I agree that banning your organization to film on the grounds of a public university is not right, but your being a “media organization” grants you no preferential treatment to public grounds. Furthermore, this has nothing to do with the election or your lawsuit, trust me. This is how the student union treats everyone whose not “officially” linked to the university. As far as they’re concerned you have as much right to that area as the Young Communist League does, which is none.

  28. Stein you’re an idiot. stop reporting this BS. Get over the fact that you lost last year and are only campaigning to get back at the people who you lost to. You know the people you are supporting are not qualified, so stop crying.

  29. Knightnews already proved you fools in sga wrong about requiring them to fill out your stupid request form to get records. They will prove you wrong again here. Is anyone going to impeach Chism over this?

  30. Last time I checked it was the STUDENT UNION… paid for with tax money. It is not private. Everyone has a right to be there… especially students… and especially student media during elections.

    These people have really crossed the line this time. I hope knightnews sues!

  31. You all sound like a bunch of crybabies. This is only hurting your reputation (not to mention those who you support). How do you expect anyone to take you seriously?

  32. The first amendment prohibits the Congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion”, impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech and infringing on the freedom of the press.

    It does not prohibit the Student Union from banning you from their property if you’re filming students without their consent.

    And as far as the A&SF budget goes, you probably should have searched the sources within UCF before you wasted your time going to the state. The budget is posted as public record on the Activity and Service Fee website for the handful of students who actually care to see it.

  33. THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS!
    This is the motto of the Knightnews and the Daniel/Kevin campaign!

    The ends:
    D/K: Getting elected to blow student money on contracts with their buddies.
    KN: Getting all of the contracts from their buddies after they are elected.

    The means:
    Lying about campaign support from progressive groups.
    Lying about fictitious corruption in SGA (straw men abound).
    Giving false and misleading information, as presented in this article and many other articles concerning this election.

    Is selling your souls to the devil really worth 15.5 million dollars? I guess for some people!

  34. Sounds like someone is getting scared, that this election they thought is in the bag isn’t quite in the bag anymore. Chicken S*** Cowards

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