After a summer of questionable spending on a lavish retreat, and a new semester tarnished by the purchase of an almost $8,000 desk for the Student Government Association office, has SGA learned a lesson when spending public money?

This is a student government ran by President Mike Kilbride, whose purchasing decisions are being questioned by the likes of gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, the state’s chief financial officer and front-runner in the race, according to recent polls.

So when Knightnews.com learned of another SGA retreat — this time for senate — we decided to see for ourselves how they were spending students’ money.


Logan Herlihy Goes Live from UCF on Fox 35 Over SGA’s Behavior:
Advertisement


On Friday night, KnightNews.com drove to the Plaza Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, Florida to get some answers from the new SGA senate. Because Speaker Drew Pope ignored our last e-mailed question about the election, we decided to catch up with him in person to ask our questions instead.

A senate retreat is not something new. These new students are required to go, and the information they cover during the retreat is vital, as they become familiar with the rules and regulations of senate. However, at a time when students are struggling to pay for tuition, block tuition seems possible, majors are being cut and programs are being lost, students are asking if it really sends the right message to stay at a beachside resort.

When we arrived Friday night, we surveyed the local bars and nightlife to see if these senators were out partying on their first night at the resort, since the The Plaza Resort is located within walking distance of the main Daytona Beach nightlife strip. We wanted to find out whether students were out partying when they had traveled all the way out to Daytona Beach to learn.

Despite our search, we didn’t find a single senate member out that night. When we finally got a chance to talk to some new senators the next day, a senator told KnightNews.com how they all stayed in the first night because they knew they had a long day ahead of them.

Saturday morning we came down to the lobby to ask senators and Senate speaker Drew Pope why they decided to stay at such a beautiful beachside resort. Instead of finding senators eating $22 per plate breakfasts, like President Kilbride purchased with public money for his executive cabinet on their retreat, we found students eating a very modest breakfast — bagels and juice.

Despite the frugal breakfast, the lunch accommodations were far more elaborate, with a private buffet and their own chef on a private, roped off terrace facing the ocean — all during the famed Air and Sea show. Overall, it was safe to conclude that Senate was being more fiscally responsible than Kilbride. However, when we tried to speak with Speaker Pope about the retreat in the morning, he claimed he was too busy to give us a complete answer at first.

When Pope did finally answer questions, he told us that he had “checked out at  least 20 hotels that had accommodations for up to 60 people that had ample meeting space and that had very, very cheap food and beverage.” But when asked to give us a rough estimate of the cost of staying at this beach-side resort, he couldn’t even give us a ballpark on the price.


See our Raw, Unedited Final Interview with Pope:
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDl2F0H37_4


“It was three months ago when I booked it,” Pope said, and then told us to file a public records request with UCF to find out the price. SGA routinely orders those requesting records to fill out this form, with restrictions lawyers told us are illegal.

We will work to request those receipts as well as obtaining other documents about questionable spending from the senator.

When asked what he thought about the accommodations for the retreat, sophomore Senator Tyler Smith said, “I would be fine with [the retreat] being on campus or over here.”

If we receive anything further on the retreat, students will be the first to know. But it seems at least for now, there’s a movement within SGA to take more steps in the right direction to follow what students we talked to have said all along — that students don’t necessarily want less money being spent, but rather, their money spent in a more well thought out and responsible way.

Below, see a picture of the nearly $8,000 desk SGA President Michael Kilbride bought for his front office.

The new $7,800 desk

Tyler Smith Raw Interview:

57 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, and I got accepted to schools ranked higher than UF… You have my permission to hate on that too.

    Andrick

  2. Finally!!! I’ve been wanting haters on Knight News hate on me. Thank you for finally delivering, about time someone recognized I was worth hating!

    Andrick

    P.S. hahahahahahahahahaha life is so good! I have a mid-term to study for now, see everyone at Homecoming!!!

  3. It really shows how SHALLOW people are when they judge others based off what they wear. It truly is sad that people are this ignorant, blind, and intolerant.

  4. Really he’s a disgrace to sigma pi? Him and Keal are the only good kids in Sigma Pi. Please you’re a joke go shoo away troll.

  5. I’ll be the first to say that Tyler Smith looks snazzy as hell in that interview.

    Clearly, we see the blind, trusting viewers of KN and their priorities. It wasn’t about how you dress, but what information/questions you brought to the presentations. I know many of us new senators have much to learn from returning senators like Tyler Smith (who, of course, is fighting AGAINST the corruption slowly dissipating from SGA).

  6. Really Tyler?! Your going to go out representing UCFs top students looking like that? …I am extremely embarrassed for you, and for UCF. Sure, I fully agree with splashing a little bit of your personal style in, but the way you look here- you would have been kicked off any business session/ client meeting I have ever worked on. Never allowed to return back. I hate business attire as much as the next person, but when its necessary, you do it. Please, clean up.

  7. What the hell is wrong with you. Go be a douche somewhere else. And,um, shouldn’t you, um, shouldn’t you be um growing some balls. You’re so cool anonymous comment warrior.

  8. Andrick – shouldn’t you be, um, studying your ass off because, you know, you’re in law school? At the University of Florida?

    I know you just can’t get enough of the undergraduate life, but time to be a big boy. Fred Leonhardt didn’t get you into UF Law for nothing – he wants to see a return on his investment!

  9. Didn’t that same group decide on an advertising budget for the election of $12,000?

    How come these student leaders can defy the budget committee’s decision to heavily advertise the election, and spend ALMOST NOTHING…. but they can’t do that with their lavish retreats?

    A good lawyer would have picked up on that. Good luck….

  10. Sorry. Not buying it.

    You can’t accuse the media of twisting anybody’s words when they uploaded the raw interview. The bottom line is he didn’t want people to know how much he paid.

    And what was this about $50 pay to play to get on the ticket? That sounds suspect.

  11. Drew did not respond with even a ballpark figure because no matter what he said he knew his words would twisted. If it was too low and the actual number was higher, they would call it a cover up and if the number was higher than the actual cost, they would use that number instead of the real one. Its a catch 22.

    The 2010-2011 AS&F budget has been out since last year and you can find the amount spent fairly easy.

  12. SGA should use the student union or other on campus facilities. We’re like a city in itself, the meetings should be held here, we have tons of meeting space, huge lecture halls for presentations, the Pegasus Ballroom, the UCF Alumni center has a ballroom, and if those really aren’t large enough they could use The Venue or the UCF Arena, and they’d have plenty of room for everything they want to do… then UCF benefits, as the facility has a greater occupancy rate, either allowing rates to be lowered or someone to save money that could be used on other projects, like a new entrance to campus or new entrance to the arena

  13. Ok, so a year ago a group of students decided on a budget in the Activity and Service Fee Budget meetings. Yes, Mike sat on the committee, but he wasn’t the only student. Both Drew and Mike are working with budgets set forth a year ago for them. Anyone in their position would be using the same budget they were given.

    I helped make the budget. It’s a legit budget, these bitter fake news people are just mad they aren’t student leaders on campus getting paid to do nothing. My administration along with Mike’s has done more for the student body than all past administrations since 2005 (not to say they were bad leaders).

    If you would seriously like to be educated, as the people that are being bombarded with these sensationalist knightnews reporters. I’d even be happy to answer questions.

    Andrick Lewis
    09-10 Student Body Vice President
    andrick.lewis@gmail.com

  14. Are you kidding me? He was so professional Fox 35 news put him on LIVE TV last night. What other UCF student has done that before they graduated. You must be on Kilbride’s payroll.

  15. I was stupid enough to believe people like you at first, but then knightnews put up the raw video and I saw that speaker dodge every question in such a rude way. It’s incredible he can get away with not saying even a ballpark of how much it costs.

  16. Stop trying to make yourself feel important. It’s not anybody elses fault that you suck and have to comment on this page to feel involved.
    Sucks to suck. How about some good reporting knight news. Pathetic.

  17. Before you do judgement, take time and do research on the subject. Ask a senator about the A&SF budget, how that works every year. Ask how much ANY student organization can get to go to a similar conference through the CRT conference registration and travel committee. Senate went through the right channels to request the money for the retreat. If it was thought to be too much, then last spring when the budget came out you should of been angry. Knightnews is just as bad as fox or cnn when it comes to one sided reporting, its a shame to think that these people are the futures of broadcasting.

    Also to answer a question I posed:
    any individual can apply to get a 250$ allocation, over 650 were given out last year and groups can work with a senator to write a bill to get much more. If senators all year can help students go on much more expensive trip to accomplish similar goals, why can’t they go on them themselves?

  18. I’m upset because they went to easy on SGA. Why the heck did they leave out the Italian feast they had? They should have stuck around longer to catch everyone eating. I bet people went out the second night too.

  19. Fun fact: Senators spent the vast majority of the weekend in the Hotel’s conference room. If this was balanced reporting, shouldn’t the majority of the footage have been from many, many scheduled hours of presentations?

    Also, I’d hardly consider that a private chef. Unless you’d consider burgers and potato salad chef-worthy. Disgusting.

  20. @Tyler Rits –

    I understand your point and from comparing the articles and info about the two retreats I think Senate did a good job in cost cutting but you have to understand the perception that SGA gives.

    I voted in the election and every seat was basically unopposed. I actually wanted to run but was told by a friend in Senate that you had to get onto Drew Popes ticket and pay him if you wanted to win. So I decided not to run.

    I’m mad at the leadership in SGA, not the average Senator like you. You didn’t create the system in SGA now, but you can change it.

    Kilbride & Pope just hire there friends and frat bros to positions and it just seems very corrupt and closed off to students.

    And also, did it have to be at a beach resort in daytona? It could have been in Orlando right? Save gas costs and other costs to. After all there are millions of hotels in Orlando.

  21. If you think everything would have been fine and not have looked bad if you hadn’t done this at a beach resort… then why have it at a beach resort to put that perception out there?

    And I heard the dinner was nice. Like $20 bucks a plate, at the Plaza Restaurant… a juicy breast of chicken parmigiana crusted with delicious spices, over pasta and nice salad etc. It’s nicer than students eat at marketplace, which is what the rest of the students are used to.

  22. To all of you who are so culturally insensitive to first of all not even know how to spell puka shell or to even know what it means, shame on you. It is a part of my culture and has more meaning than you know and before any of you attempt to judge any of us for anything, please educate yourself so you can make an informed opinion instead of all this garbage that comprises the majority of these comments.

    I can say that the majority of you shouldn’t even be commenting on this based on the political turnout this election. Most students this year did not even vote, let alone run, and if you care that little then your opinion loses a lot of its weight. Instead of complaining on some forum why not actually get up out of your computer chair and attempt to make a difference?

    Finally, please stop hating on Tyler Smith. His word were taken out of context and the retreat was not as elaborate as Knight News is attempting to make it seem. Bagels for breakfast, burgers and hot dogs for lunch and spaghetti for dinner all at an average hotel where we spent 90% of the time in presentations and studying how to better serve the 50,000+ students we are here to serve? I don’t see where this illusion of grandeur comes in. And Drew Pope didn’t even ballpark the cost because media would have found a way to make it look like he was misrepresenting the actual cost if he was off by even a little bit. So to all of you out there, I appreciate you wanting to see changes and that is what we are here for. But if you actually want something to happen, don’t complain here, go make it happen.

    Sincerely,
    Tyler Rits

  23. Sink Ahead you are an idiot. That says the Republicans are ahead. Go Turn on CNN and see if anyone in the White House is eating a Bagel you Liberal

  24. Tyler Smith is a typical politician. I just watched the raw video interview. Knightnews didn’t even ask him if he’d have the retreat on campus…. he brought it up himself. Then he has the nerve to say KN twisted his words. What a joke. He brought it up himself.

  25. I never called Drew out. Read my comment below. Once again I’d like to reiterate that I’m not happy that Knightnews took my words out of context.

    Thanks for thinking I’m the man though.

    In the pursuit of Truth,
    Tyler

  26. How much did it cost Drew? What’s the ballpark?

    You can derka derka this… derka derka that.. from the abc 123, go here, do that… fill out this. derka derka all of it.

    Kid is such a nerd with so much to hide. If he really checked 20 places to get the best deal, don’t you think he’d remember the price? What a joke.

  27. Shame on you Tyler Smith. Your novel is getting in the way of the real story in my comment. The Pooka Shell Scandal must be covered ASAP.

  28. Hello Knightnews readers,

    Hear me out. My name is Tyler and I attended this retreat. I was the individual quoted at the end, but naturally cut off due to the “media spin” we commonly see today.

    Though quoted as saying I would be fine with the retreat being at UCF, I additionally added that IF this retreat was able to build group cohesion, and it turn SAVE money for students then it is well worth the cost.

    You must realize that being withdrawn from the pressure of school, friends, partying was a great way for us to get to know one another. We will be working together for the rest of the year and cooperation creates a more productive team.

    I’m all in favor of saving students money. I, like many other students and senators, am often frustrated with decisions made by some SGA officials. The new SGA desk is one recent example, but things have improved over recent years and many Senators are ready to fight for positive reform in the 43rd UCF Senate.

    Beyond this I am however dismayed when I see media outlets constantly and purposely intending to showcase SGA in a negative light.

    Knightnews: I’m glad that your committed to bringing accountability to SGA. I’m also glad that you saw that the organizers of this event were making cutbacks, but why not cover some of the many productive things we did at retreat? We learned a lot, and were given many tools to help the student body. IF you had been working with senators, following them around to get the whole story, instead of lying in wait at the bars, your headlines may have looked like this:

    -”Student Government Senators skip out on beach to study for upcoming exams”
    -”New Student Senators ask hard questions and prepare to tackle big issues”
    -”A handful of UCF Senators save girl from attacker on Daytona Beach

    True Stories

    Highest Regards,
    Tyler Smith

  29. Dear Knightnews,

    Stop censoring comments, please be fair and balanced as a news agency should be. You know its the right thing to do.

  30. Shame on you KnightNews for harassing Drew Pope. You are aware that he is in the new fraternity Beta on campus that enjoys playing on the same team (if you know what I mean), and this could be considered a hate crime.

    I agree with Disgusted Student. We need to get to the bottom of this Pooka Shell Scandal. Knightnews I suggest you get on this story right away and find out how this crime has gone unnoticed. Clearly what ever sort of currency was spent on those pooka shells was a extreme injustice. I for one just hope it wasn’t student dollars that paid for those pooka shells.

    I also would like to point out that you clearly did not go to the right “clubs” that night. You know Pozin couldn’t help himself and had to hit up Molly Browns. The dancers I might add are phenomenal there.

  31. Wow…wow

    Your immaturity astound me, and I’m pretty sure you don’t even have the whole story. You know these retreats are mandatory. Not to mention that my current post is currently being “moderated” by knightnews. Read it, listen, and learn a few things

  32. Tyler Smith said he wouldn’t mind the retreat being on campus…..so why didn’t he say that when he was a senator last year? Aren’t good senators supposed to speak their mind at all times….now he’s just saying it because he wasn’t invited on to the ticket.

    Sucks to suck Tyler Smith

  33. Oh they only had a beach view for lunch… my bad.

    How about this: Use the Union as a retreat spot. Or maybe stay in Orlando. If people in SGA knew anything they would know to stop spending lavishly on retreats while there fellow students who pay for it are barely getting by.

    Get out of your SGA insider mindset and try to remember what it feels like to be a regular student who watches this sh*t happen and pays for it.

    You are a joke “actually”.

  34. Tyler Smith is a Senior* and his quote finishes by stating that he is for a different location, but it is nice to be in an environment not surrounded by pressures of school on our shoulders and to bond with the other senators on a more personal level.

    I also wonder where the story is about the multiple student senator elects who helped a woman who was being beaten on the beach Friday night. If anything were to display what happened at the Senate Retreat this weekend I would think saving a woman’s life counts as newsworthy.
    I personally hope that we continue to see a switch towards news being broadcast on everything Student Government is doing and not just its team trying to “catch” senators out partying on camera to slander their image to the student body.
    Senator’s who have been elected to their specific college’s seats care about the students. All of the Senator elects volunteer their time to discussing matters on behalf of the students who are busy with their education. The entire retreat senator elects were actually running behind during presentations because of the multitude of questions and matters being discussed. On Saturday the Senator elects were actually approached by the hotel staff stating that the food had been prepared for 45 minutes and that we should take a break to eat before it sat out any longer. Going to lunch late and then going back inside early to catch up on the presentations is not as lavish as it seems.
    I hope that the student body will continue to have increased confidence in it’s new governing body. We can all work together to make UCF a better campus by continually representing the student’s voice on campus and voicing it to the University’s Administration.

    http://www.ucfsga.com/?p=about-sga

    Sincerely,
    Another Concerned Student
    Joseph Bishop

  35. Senators did not have a beach view from there hotel rooms and they ate hot dogs and potato salad for lunch.

    If knightnews and its supporters knew anything, they would know that the 42nd senate voted on lowering the senate retreat by $500. They forgot to add that fact in.

    If students have a problem….apply for the A&SF budget committee and make your voice heard.

    Logan Herlihy is obviously trying to make a name for himself. Knightnews fails to capture the whole story yet again.

  36. I’m absolutely disgusted with that grown ass kid wearing pooka shells in 2010. Can’t believe he’s representing UCF. Embarrassing.

  37. The cheapest option was to pay for everyones gas and beach view villas? There was no meeting space in Orlando hotels… the capital of the world for Conferences and meetings.

    Drew Pope you’re a freaking joke. I’d respect you more if you just flat out said “Yeah, I wanted to get out of Orlando and enjoy the spa and beach on the students dime.”

  38. Wow! Drew Pope is a total spending addict like Kilbride. I bet he would have found cheaper options if it was his money and not mine he was spending.

    Impeach him!

  39. KnightNews this is classic – tone it down on Senate so it doesn’t look like you guys are being completely biased. Fair and Balanced!

Comments are closed.