Student Development and Enrollment Services staff had the opportunity to interview the 2014-15 Student Government Association Student Body President Weston Bayes and Vice President Sydney Altfield.
Both Weston-Sydney served in leadership roles during their UCF collegiate years such as with UCF Homecoming, Knight-Thon and the SDES Advisory Board. Sydney came to UCF from Miami, and is a senior majoring in event management. Weston’s hometown is Naples; he is a senior studying political science─prelaw. They met early at UCF in their freshman year in the SGA Student Body President Advisory Committee and mentorship program. They have been friends ever since. Now this team in the role of SGA president and vice president will oversee a budget of $17.5M.
SDES: What does your campaign slogan, “Stand Uknighted,” mean to you and how are you going to apply it during your term?
“The campus has great departments and agencies but they don’t often cooperate very efficiently together. We want to be that ‘glue,’ to uknight them, and work collaboratively.”
There are many items on the platform but Weston-Sydney said the #1 priority is campus safety which encompasses the:
Mobile Blue Light App provides students a new measure of security and safety. It’s not a panic button but more of a safety precaution timer. Weston used this example: “If someone wanted to get from the library to the arena late at night, they could set a timer of 10 minutes on the app. If 10 minutes go by and he/she has not checked in through the app, then the UCF police will be contacted to go check on your whereabouts.
KnightLYNX: The late night shuttle runs Downtown Orlando Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and is free for students with a UCF ID. “Usage from students has gone down so we are trying to publicize this service more to they ensure students are getting the most of UCF transportation services. [More information at SGA’s website.]
Pedestrian Bridge: A two-way bridge system that helps students cross University Blvd. and then cross Alafaya Trail to safely get on campus. It has been talked about for a while now but Weston-Sydney are actively taking the initiative to advocate the county and the university to make this happen.
Off campus affiliated housing residents are in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction, not the UCF Police’s. There are a lot of students that live off campus. SGA is making it a priority in this new initiative to collaborate with OCSO to increase safety around these areas. Certain areas like the “Greek ghetto,” where off-campus fraternity houses are located, students have had troubles with their neighbors” and witnessed criminal activity. Weston-Sydney want to create a safer environment not only on campus but also the neighboring grounds.
New initiatives that Weston-Sydney plan on implementing during their term involves:
Expanding academic study areas such as All Knight Study and All Knight Study 2. Weston would like to “Use space that we already have” such as unused rooms in the Student Union that students aren’t even aware about. These empty rooms could be posted online for availability. SGA would also like to connect students to one another for increased tutoring options. Students learn very well from one another. Weston also noted renovations around UCF are mainly at a halt because of budget issues at the state level. Although the John C. Hitt Library has found the budget to start their soon-to-be expansion nicknamed ARC (Automatic Retrieval Center) where all the books in the current library will be moved to the ARC and whenever you need to check out a book you type information and a bot brings it to you. This will allow tremendous amounts of space to be cleared up in the library which will all go to more study space.
Raising scholarship awareness to all eligible students, providing a variety for leadership positions, service and needs. SGA would like to diversify scholarships and provide more creative scholarships such as the ‘Fresh Start’ scholarship which is available to students who have a 2.5 or below to give them the initiative to do better in school.
Opening up a Resource Center for Registered Student Organizations in the Student Union for more collaborative spacing for school organizations. SGA wants to make it easier for RSOs to find space within UCF such as unused classrooms. Currently, the Office of Student Involvement accommodates approximately 60 organizations; there are over 500 RSOs.
Expanding on the Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ+ will now be a branch of Social Justice and Advocacy. The mission of Social Justice and Advocacy (SJA) is to promote an equitable campus environment where all are assured that diversity, in its many forms, is valued. [For more information about SJA, visit: sja.sdes.ucf.edu.]
More parking? Weston says that it is a “Long term goal.” Weston-Sydney mentioned future plans of building a parking garage behind HPA where parking Lot D is currently located due to future plans of building a new research center there.
Promoting new services and programs that UCF holds through surveys and social media. . .Weston wants more students involved, and goes on to say, “We are trying to get more than just the same 300 students to show up.”
Promoting healthier lifestyle changes such as providing students with recipes that are easy and inexpensive that could be supplied by the Health Center and Recreation and Wellness Center. These recipes could be hung in the common areas of on-campus residence halls.
“Becoming first zero-emission and Decreasing carbon footprint would definitely be a long-term goal but we can start out small hoping to one day achieve a bigger change,” said Weston-Sydney. SGA wants to promote activities to be more green-sensitive. A small step in that direction is to promote students to reuse their water bottles by filling up at the water fountains in the Student Union and RWC.
Weston-Sydney would like to create more pride for UCF and are passionate about a cultural change working toward the university’s goal of becoming the first zero-emission. They are looking for that long-term affect. The 2014-2015 academic year will be a busy one to uknight and assist departments to collaborate more for common causes.
Projects started last year that Weston-Sydney would like to continue and expand include:
Tailgating services that allow students to rent out tents, tables, chairs, cornhole, footballs, and much more.
Bike rentals throughout UCF and expand the service near on-campus residence communities as well.
Whether it will be short term or long term accomplishments, it will take one step at a time. From implementing completely new initiatives or expanding on others, Weston-Sydney Stand Uknighted to make this academic year a great one at UCF.