Within hours of KnightNews.com publishing its video investigation showing the world class, five star Disney area resort where UCF SGA President Michael Kilbride decided to take his staff on a luxurious retreat, more segments of the surrounding UCF community are investigating.

WFTV Channel 9 Reporter Liz Artz confronted Kilbride about his decision to spend $8,000 on a weekend in luxury — courtesy of UCF student fees — at a time when tuition and fees are skyrocketing and so many students’ parents are suffering from a loss of job in this tough economy.

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Kilbride did not apologize.

Instead, he defended the $8,000 weekend as “an adequate expense” because it only represents “.0005 percent of the overall student government budget.”

That money could have gone to scholarships instead, KnightNews.com’s Andrew Stein pointed out during an interview with WFTV in which he gave expert analysis to the station regarding the spending scandal and outrage from students. The story has been “most popular” on WFTV.com for quite some time today.

Because Kilbride has refused to conduct on camera, in person or over the phone interviews with KnightNews.com, we were there during Kilbride’s interview with Artz and shot video of it.

In the interview, the controversy about Trustee Kilbride taking free Disney tickets came up.

Artz asked Kilbride: Is it against UCF’s ethics policy to take gifts?

Kilbride said, “I can’t comment on that.”

“Do you know?,” Artz asked.

“I don’t.” Kilbride responded.

“You don’t know?” Artz confirmed.

“I don’t,” Kilbride responded again.

“So you’re the student body president but you don’t know,” Artz said.

“What?” Kilbride said, appearing to get flustered. “Oh, I the — we did not violate the ethics policy in receiving those tickets.”

Artz then begun trying to point out how she saw a link, apparently the same one we saw, suggesting UCF Board of Trustee members — like Kilbride — can’t get gifts such as Disney tickets without a proper disclosure.

Kilbride became defensive, refused to answer her question and cut her off by saying, “You can talk to University General Counsel or News and Information about that, if it’s in regard to University policy. They’d be more than happy to comment.”

Meanwhile, KnightNews.com still hasn’t gotten a response to our questions we sent last week to Kilbride about the “retreat.” Before publishing our investigative report, KnightNews.com gave Kilbride several chances to respond directly to our question — a “yes” or “no” would have been acceptable.

Kilbride refused to be interviewed by us in phone or in person on this topic, and insisted on having SGA Chief of Information Shane Chism — who we’re told students pay $550 bi-weekly for work performed in an unprecedented third floor Student Union office, typically reserved for University administrators — communicate with KnightNews.com via e-mail.

In one of the e-mail’s to Chism before KnightNews.com published the story, KnightNews.com wrote:

“I asked President Kilbride a question about whether he thought the recent SGA retreat – including the meals and transportation to Disney – was worth the students’ money.

“Although I appreciate hearing from you, it was President Kilbride who was elected to his position, and it is he who the students want to hear from when their tuition dollars are spent. We’d prefer to come conduct an interview with President Kilbride on camera regarding this, or at least over the phone. I think the students would like to hear from him. Please let us know when he can make time to schedule an interview, or should we call his secretary?”

Kilbride responded to that e-mail by writing, “The response of Mr. Chism is the response of my office and the Student Government Association. His reply speaks for me and SGA.”

When WFTV interviewed Kilbride Monday, KnightNews.com was there. We captured video of the interview. When it ended, Kilbride promised to let the reporter get some video of him walking around to use in her story. However, Kilbride apparently snuck out a back door of the office and escaped through the service elevator in the back of the Union, to apparently avoid carrying out his his word to the reporter — which would have put him in the position of being asked questions from KnightNews.com as well once WFTV was finished shooting b-roll video.

Click here to see how Orange County Commissioners Linda Stewart and Bill Segal weighed in on this situation.


See our exclusive investigation on the SGA retreat being called “a misuse of funds”

22 COMMENTS

  1. Buy a stedicam already, this isn’t high school where it was ok to have all film shot with a shaky handheld camera. Be professional about your work knightsnews.

  2. Hah! This senate was a joke! I ran and was elected over some clown 53/47%. At senate retreat in Daytona, know what everyone did? GET WASTED. Most people, some who are on the new cabinet were tanked. We even got a noise complaint in the hotel. The whole time while at retreat was Will Lusk’s hearing and all the douches on senate were going on and on like whiny babies. Reality check…you’re in college and are ADULTS, grow up and take responsibility for your actions and don’t complain when people call you out on your shit.

    NUT UP OR SHUT UP!!!!

  3. The difference is the economy. In years past they may have gone on $8,000 retreats as well, but the economy was a lot better and the unemployment rates were lower. People were more liberal with their spending in years past. The problem isn’t that they went on a retreat with a large amount of money, the problem is the timing. They should have adjusted their costs to the economy and taken into consideration all the adjustments a lot of other families and people have had to make.

    Also, just a thought but they could have done something different for once. Instead of spending $8,000 they could have been the first cabinet to do the retreat on campus, in the ropes course, the union, lake claire. This is such a beautiful and large campus with so much to offer, and they call themselves the leader of it, they should take advantage of all the resources available right here. Without spending all kinds of money.

  4. just because there have been retreats in the past, does not mean that retreats are OK. There were many things in the past that were done that were and still are wrong. it is so childish to scream, “they did it first.”

    As for the assumption that this is similiar to the conferences and competitions organizations get; that is ridiculous. First off CRT does not fund retreats. Any organizations that goes there to get funding for a retreat will get denied. Secondly everyone who goes on cabinet is ALREADY getting a salary from SGA!!!

    Frankly the lambda chis who used to run it were corrupt, theres no denying that, but these Betas who are in there now, (kilbride got a bid from beta) are just as corrupt if not even more so. the oonly difference is that these betas have a holier than thou attitude.

  5. Apparently none of you Pro-Kilbride Anti-KnightNews commenters realize, which shows how dim you really are, is that every comment you post on here just makes this site more popular which equals more profitable which equals more money in Stienies little pocket!

  6. The only reason this site is one sided is because Mike Kilbride never responds to their questions. He makes me answer for him, not the Director of Communications who probably should. But hey, thats why I get paid $29,000 a year… I also got to buy 7 iPads with student money (freakin sweet!). And they say Mike is corrupt. Lol, its ok, I wont get in trouble… Its not like anyone reads this crappy site anyway!

  7. Since he works at Siemens, I’m assuming he’s not graduating with a degree in journalism. Guess what, It’s noticeable! Maybe he should continue working at Siemens and not try to be a journalist!

  8. Unlike Peterson going into his 7th year of under grad Andrew does have a real job working at Siemens and o wait he graduates this weekend….

  9. So was Liz Artz in SGA too and also went on a retreat?

    You guys are incredible. Admit you were wrong, ask forgiveness and move on. The retreats in the past weren’t at the Ritz or wherever the hell this place is… they didn’t get corrupt donations…

    All of these other stations do their own research and determined it was newsworthy and outrageous. Same with county commissioners.

    If only knightnews cared, and the future didn’t, you might have something. But only the Future doesn’t care, and they have a giant contract from SGA… maybe you should attack that paper for being unethical.

    What a joke.

  10. Andrew, grow up and get a real news site with non-biased reports. The retreat that you went on cost 10,000 and no one saw you complaining about that retreat. To all the Ucf students please do more research on this story because knightnews is out to get sga. As a non sga member I did my own research and found that there are 2 sides to this story. So Andrew, keep being a hypocrite on a retreat that you yourself have previously been on. Grow up and add some depth to your stories.

  11. Dear SGA Losers who enjoy commenting on this site,

    Talk to Knightnews on video and tell them they suck. They dont need to prove there legitimacy the New York Times, Channel 9, Daily Buzz, Huffington Post, Business Week, ESPN, and every other news source that picked them up already did.

    Knightnews fan

  12. Dear KnightNews,

    Mike Kilbride’s choice to grant WFTV an on-camera interview, and not one to KnightNews.com just goes to show you what a joke your “news organization” really is.

    I don’t blame Kilbride for not wanting to waste his time with you. Faux news orgs like KnightNews are not taken seriously, especially when the people behind them have a personal vendetta against Kilbride.

    Love,
    UCF

  13. http://www.asf.ucf.edu/financial/budgets/10-11/ASF10-11Budget.pdf

    I have no dog in this fight because I have recently graduated from UCF, but this entire witch hunt has been over one line in this budget, line 130. Everyone who runs this site has known about this line for years (or should have at least) and are deciding to report on it now because they want hits (and ultimately credibility) brought to this website.

    Instead of obnoxiously chasing down Kilbride or other officials, how about you make a call to students to get involved so these things don’t happen. It is completely hypocritical for the authors of these stories to act outraged when, had they been elected for better or worse, would have taken advantage of the allocated money for a retreat.

    If knight news can garner enough attention (and outrage I suppose) to get more people involved in elections/decisions this year, then I guess that would be a success. I just personally think it could be done without the sensationalism and the “wow I had no idea this was happening” attitude, when in fact it has been going on for years. The budget does need more student input, and there will always be better ways to allocate that $15 mil, so I urge all of those outraged students to get involved in any way possible this upcoming year.

    Go Knights!

  14. Just a few comments

    Greek Extrav is a great event, its a $15.5 million budget… $5,000 to $8,000 is not a lot if spent on Activities and Services. Homecoming costs over $100K, and those events are amazing just like Greek Extrav (that is an activity that services the UCF community and Orlando Alumni of the Alumni). As far as the retreat, it’s unfortunate but exaggerated. Let’s talk about how SGA gave over $12K last year to engineering students to go to conferences and compete…. still money well spent, the engineers are working and competing to give back to UCF and ASF SHOULD FUND IT, just like SGA Cabinet is working to give back to UCF and we should fund it (maybe at only $5,000 next year, but Organizations learn from the experiences and since the money is already spent, we should now look to see if they make proper use of what they learned at retreat and not dwell.

    Also as far as the scholarships go, the money spent on scholarships can only come from interest made on the 15.5 million budget, not the money itself. Students don’t be ASF to DIRECTLY fund scholarships, making another fee, or adjusting the ASF fee to accommodate scholarships is not a terrible idea, but that is not what ASF if for as of now.

    Good Luck Kilbride and SGA, I am not mad that you spent the money… but if you do not use what you gained from the retreat to give back to UCF then I will be.

  15. Youre really chasing $8,000? You need to target something else… How about how Greek Extrva costs $5000, the elections commission of 9 who are payed upwards of 6 weeks to run an ONLINE election that thats 3 days long, 25k on ugly tshirts, 50k on palm trees or the 100k on the conflict of interest lobbyist. Hell, why do I have to pay for the gym on campus I dont use?!?! Why don’t all these city officers and news stations throw a fit about the 1.53 million dollar faux bridge cables… http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-03-06/news/os-faux-bridge-expressway-20100305_1_bridge-over-lake-underhill-faux-two-towers

    This is all politics, like it or not this is what happens…

    When does free pizza season start again?

  16. $8000 – 32 students = $250 each – 3 days = $83.33 per person, per day for room & board and meals…The students should commend him for getting such a great deal for the money spent. Good job…kudos to the student president, if Obama could only do that well….

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