Co-written by:Brett Bissell
On Thursday, students gathered at the Student Open Forum, in the Key West ballroom, to express their ideas, concerns and experiences to several members of the University of Central Florida Administration.
President Hitt as well as Vice Presidents Ehasz, Heston, Holsenbeck and Merck were in attendance to address and offer possible solutions to these students’ inquiries.
Students brought up various topics ranging from racial concerns to the idea of an online student union.
Angelo Baldado, a Filipino-American, who is also the Student Director of Volunteer UCF, came to the Forum to express his concern regarding the lack of Asian-American role models on campus.
“I am a Filipino-American and I have heard the numbers or I’ve heard the number that we have four percent of Asian Americans here on this university. Before I say anything else, it is more than a number we are a people,” Baldado said. “Going through all my leadership opportunities I have noticed that I haven’t had any Asian-American role models.”
“Is it possible for us to create an Asian faculty and staff association?,” Baldado asked. “Something so that our Asian-Americans can get together and have role models and faculty and possibly staff as well.”
Vice President Merck, V.P. for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer, responded to Baldado:”But the organizations you talked about, a lot of those kind of organizations really form organically, they’re not really directed from the top coming down,” Merck said. “So if you and your colleagues want to just start a grassroots movement to get something like that started, that’s solid ground.”
According to a spring 2016 Gender and Race Demographics report, “there are more than five times as many white employees than Asian employees, the third largest group.” In fact, UCF employs “more white employees than the combination of all other ethnicities.”
After the forum, Baldado said he was satisfied with the Administrators’ response to his concerns.
“The point is here is not to get an answer, the point here is to honestly put it out there,” he explained. “The fact that it is now being delegated and its been pinpointed and the administrators really nod and understand that, I’m happy with the outcome to be honest.”
Baldado, told Knight News that he feels that this forum was beneficial in giving students an opportunity to share their thoughts and communicate with the administration.
“With an open forum, it allows students to be able to engage with administration which sometimes there can feel like a gap you know with administrators and students,” Baldado said. “It may be nerve-wracking to do that but at the end of the day what makes the university is the students so its great to see that they listened in the end.”
The Student Open Forum at UCF has been an annual event and will likely continue in the future, allowing students, like Baldado, to express their concerns and advocate for change on issues affecting themselves and other students.