Students Emilia Kosonen and Karen Caudillo announced an end to their campaign as UCF student body president and vice president at an SGA senate meeting on Thursday.
After being charged with three campaign violations, Kosonen and Caudillo said they were forced to deactivate their social media accounts during the week of Feb. 11 and were “barred” from campaigning. This included speaking to any student or registered student organization at UCF – in person or via email, tabling or verbal expression by a third party during the week of February 18-24.
By the end of the week, they had two more violations and a non-compliance complaint filed against them, according to Kosonen and Caudillo. They said these charges were “an unfair stretch of the statutes” and that they decided to withdraw from their candidacy with dignity.
“Our institution from top to bottom should seek to hold itself to a much higher standard than the current reality being normalized,” they announced on their Instagram page Friday. “We must be an institution that works for the well-being of the students and for their best interest.”
Kosonen, a junior film major was running for student body president alongside Caudillo, running for vice president as a senior political science major. Their campaign slogan was “UKnighted for All”. This was Kosonen’s first time running and Caudillo’s second, her first time being for president in the 2018 run-off election with Theressa Tong as vice president. They lost to Josh Boloña and Jad Shalhoub, the current president and vice president.
Kosonen and Caudillo began their speech in Thursday’s senate meeting by saying that UCF’s updated statutes were “a mission to be found by any student.” They said that the process to file a violation was passed without advertisement of changes, so that only candidates within the system could use institutional forms of criticism.
The intention of certain statutes used within Title VI of the election statutes, made to protect the interests of the student body, were instead used as a form of harassment, Kosonen and Caudillo said.
Some of Kosonen and Caudillo’s campaign plans included, divesting from the American food service corporation Aramark – due to their investments in private prisons and fossil fuels – making DACA and immigrant students feel safe on campus by making it a sanctuary on par with other major universities across the nation, and advertising for wage increases for students and professors which would hold the university accountable for any hardships the students are facing, according to their website.
Kosonen was the founder and president of UCF’s Knights for Animal Rights and the founder of UCF’s chapter of the Cellular Agriculture Society, an RSO where students can grow meat from cells. Last fall, Kosonen and Caudillo co-founded the Killjoy Society, UCF’s first women’s philosophy club.
They said they hope that the other candidates still in the race will adopt some of their platform points and work together with them as well as the senate to continue to make UCF a better university.
Caudillo finished the speech in the senate meeting by commending her partner on the changes she made at UCF. She mentioned that Kosonen worked to hold Aramark accountable by leading a boycott against them and UCF’s dining halls, holding her first campaign in her sophomore year and getting elected as a senator in the student government, getting more vegan options on campus, and helping to pass a resolution in efforts to get an early polling station on campus.
“It’s all about making sure that we’re doing things intentionally and for the right reasons. Self-interests, at the end of the day, will be the fault of our university,” Caudillo said.