In these tough economic times when programs are being cut, tuition is on the rise and students are struggling to pay their bills, KnightNews.com has discovered UCF SGA president Mike Kilbride has spent nearly $8,000 of students’ money on a desk for the SGA office, which came to a total of $7,800. (See the purchase order here.)
Compare the old desk with the new one for yourself below:
After Mr. Kilbride ignored our e-mailed request for an on camera interview about the new desk, we stopped by Mr. Kilbride’s office to try and ask him some questions. Although Mr. Kilbride has publicly stated that his administration is one of transparency and that he has an open door policy, he refused to talk to us on camera when we stopped by and even threw KnightNews.com crews out of the office while in the process of gathering video about the poorly advertised SGA election.
Kilbride has recently been under public scrutiny from students, Orange County commissioners, and local TV and campus media outlets for his spending habits following his controversial $8,000 cabinet retreat, where he took his administration to a sprawling, five-star resort outside of Disney and stayed in luxury villas overnight. UCF announced it was reviewing how Kilbride, a UCF Board of Trustee and public official, accepted free Disney tickets from a company lobbyist. The outcome of that review has not been announced. Once KnightNews.com made the public aware of this retreat, WFTV Channel 9 questioned Kilbride about it, and you can see what he had to say here.
Kilbride’s decision to throw KnightNews.com out of the SGA office came at a time when the SGA Senate election had the lowest amount of participation we’ve seen during our time at UCF, and the Kilbride-appointed Chief Elections Commissioner, Shane Meckler, was under scrutiny for breaking election statutes, according to lawyers, by not advertising the election with enough time for students to get involved. Read the story about Drew Pope, Speaker of the Senate, and his secret meeting held on campus before active campaigning was allowed.
In addition to visiting Kilbride directly, we have also sent him e-mails and tried reaching out to other members of his administration, but he has so far ignored our requests to be interviewed in person and answer our questions regarding his desk.
See CFO & Gubernatorial Candidate Alex Sink Speak Out on SGA Desk:
When KnightNews.com sent a reporter, Alyssa Metsky, to ask President Hitt for his thoughts about Kilbride’s desk when he held his open forum on Thursday, he had no problems taking our questions. Metsky asked whether Hitt would buy an $8,000 piece of furniture in these tough economic times if the old furniture was perfectly fine. Hitt responded, “probably not.”
It’s not clear why Kilbride is refusing to be interviewed and answer direct questions about his spending choices. He briefly talked to our reporter off camera, but refused to speak on the record, so we cannot share his thoughts with you. We spoke with other SGA officials, however, including Chief Information Officer Shane Chism, who verified that if Kilbride had wanted to, he could have used the nearly $8,000 spent on the new desk for something else.
We found out the cost of scantrons, and concluded that instead of this desk, Kilbride could have purchased around 90,000 scantrons to give to students, which is the real reason most students seem to visit the office in the first place. According to Chism’s approximations of the number of pink scantrons SGA buys each year, this could have effectively given students twice as many this year.
If Mike Kilbride should agree to speak on camera with KnightNews.com about the $7,800 desk, we will update our readers with his side of the story. Until then, we will continue to ask tough questions and hold Mike Kilbride and his administration accountable for spending student money — because after all, it’s student money that pays Kilbride about $20,000 a year to hold the prestigious office.
Update: Logan Herlihy Discusses SGA Desk, Retreat Live on Fox 35: