It took one week of waiting, a flurry of e-mails to Tallahassee — and even the threat of legal action against SGA, but late Friday afternoon, KnightNews.com finally got a portion of budget records we requested on Feb. 12.
And as KnightNews.com spent all week fighting to get this spreadsheet e-mailed to us, we found out more troubling information about the Activity and Service Fee Budget Committee, the same body under fire for allocating nearly the entire $15 million budget over Winter Break.
A committee member, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, confirmed to us that the SGA Chief of Operations and Presidential Candidate Mike Kilbride was appointed to the student-at-large seat on the budget committe — a seat intended for a regular student, who could have helped share the perspective of an SGA outsider when deciding where student money should be spent.
The “at-large” seat is common with student governing bodies at UCF. Kilbride had to know he was taking the place of the “regular student” when he accepted the ASF seat, because Kilbride was also appointed the at-large member of Greek Council — becoming the only non-Greek allowed to help decide how Greek life is run at UCF.
How would Kilbride have felt if the “at-large” Greek Council position he applied for was given to someone on IFC instead?
He’d be outraged — and rightfully so.
So, why is it OK for SGA President Brian Peterson to pick his right-hand man to occupy a seat that is supposed to be the one voice of the regular student?
No wonder SGA fought us tooth and nail to try and keep the agenda and minutes which confirm this happened secret.
President Peterson: Did you heavily advertise this “at-large” position to the regular student, before resorting to appointing your chief of operations?
How many SGA outsiders applied for the spot, before Kilbride beat him out?
Did the regular student honestly even have a chance?
In a letter to the Central Florida Future you wrote in November, you said: “It’s no mystery that many students feel out of touch with their student government. Hopefully we’ve been able to change that this year.”
How is appointing your SGA Chief of Operations insider to the position the regular student should have changing anything?
How are you any better than the SGA Presidents before you that did the same thing, so their fraternity brothers could have a leg up when they ran for office next year?
President Peterson, you promised us action, you promised us change, but in the end, you brought us more of the same — and you let us down.
You’ve helped prove the saying: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
And you’ve helped prove the point of our editorial board: Bringing total transparency to SGA is the only way regular students will really ever know what’s going on.
We doubt a regular student wanting this information would have gotten it before the election, when even KnightNews.com felt in over its head, having to communicate with top lawyers with the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees every public university in Florida, in order to get our request for the ASF budget fulfilled.
But even as attorneys from the Florida Board of Governors discussed our records request with UCF’s top attorney — whose office then promptly and politely released a portion to us Friday — SGA continued to make things difficult.
Even though we e-mailed our original request to the man in charge of the Activity and Service Fee office, SGA members suggested we hadn’t gone through the proper channels, and e-mailed us this complicated records request form, which states SGA can wait up to 72 hours before even looking at it and getting started on fulfilling our requests.
Thankfully, those running the “real” government didn’t see that as neccessary, and gave us clear, easier options to obtain SGA records in the future.
Around the time all this played out, one of the campaigns wrote this on a Facebook event page: “If you want to see this University in the hands of those with the integrity to make the STUDENTS proud then come out and show your colors.”
We couldn’t agree more.
UCF, KnightNews.com has done its job fighting to get information for you. Now you do yours, use it and get out to vote this Monday thru Wednesday.
See some of the emails we exchanged with the lawyers in Tallahassee on the NEXT PAGE: