When Weston Bayes and Sydney Altfield began their reign at UCF, they had a lot they wanted to tackle. With their time in office quickly coming to an end, they're looking to the future leaders of UCF's Student Government Association to pick up where they left off.
At a luncheon Thursday, President Bayes and Vice President Altfield met with members of the media to discuss their accomplishments, as well as the projects they hope to transfer to incoming executive leaders.
Bayes named the improvements to KnightLYNX, which launched in 2011, as one his favorite achievements. In 2013, before Bayes was elected, KnightLYNX saw 4,859 riders across the blue, green and red bus lines that year. After he and his running mate Altfield took office in spring 2014, the numbers began to rise, reaching 15,168 riders across all three lines for the year. And 2015 is off to a good start, garnering 1,354 riders already.
The uptick in numbers stems from SGA's efforts to better familiarize students with KnightLYNX, Bayes said. For example, during his term, he pushed for all KnightLYNX buses to don official logos, as some students are wary of boarding regular LYNX buses. The service, he said, has also buckled down on punctuality, ensuring students arrive on time to their destinations. Going forward, Altfield and Bayes hope their successors will continue to build up a similar service, Knight Flight, through which KnightLYNX buses shuttle students to Orlando International Airport, usually during school breaks.
While in office, Bayes also looked at the possibility of building a pedestrian bridge somewhere along Alafaya Trail. After Orange County completed a study to look into the benefits and disadvantage of a bridge, which would come with a hefty price tag, Bayes was left questioning if the idea was the best solution.
Unfortunately, he said, many of the incidents where pedestrians and cyclists were killed or harmed while crossing near UCF were the fault of the pedestrian. He added that if accidents were to occur after the construction of a bridge, the response might only be "You should have used the bridge." Instead, SGA is brainstorming other tactics that would ensure pedestrian safety.
The president and vice president are also in the very early stages of making off-campus affiliated housing as well as our own campus safer. Regarding off-campus Greek housing, often referred to as the Greek Ghetto, Bayes hopes to install more lighting, but said the process is a lengthy one. SGA has also been discussing the creation of a Blue Light app to complement the Blue Light emergency poles found along campus. However, UCF Police Chief Richard Beary has some reservations.
UCF PD already has a dispatch 911 call center, said UCF PD public information officer Courtney Gilmartin, meaning if a student calls 911 on campus, the call goes to UCF PD. The app, she said, would be putting a lot of faith in technology.
Bayes added that if a large-scale emergency were to take place on campus, hundreds of students could possibly be reporting it on the app. That could possibly overshadow smaller emergencies, such as someone having a heart attack on campus, that warrant attention as well. SGA would need UCF PD's support to move forward with the app.
In just a year, Bayes and Altfield were able to break ground and receive funding for on campus construction projects, such as the Global UCF building and the first phase of the John C. Hitt library expansion. On the smaller side of the spectrum, they also installed additional SGA bike rental racks in front of Lake Claire, and hope to install more at NorthView in the near future. SGA is also playing with the idea of building bike shelters behind the Student Union, as well as moving the bike-maintenance tent to accompany it.
Going into the next SGA presidential campaign, Bayes and Altfield hope to see an increase in voter turnout, which dwindled during Senate elections as well as Florida governor elections at the Barbara Ying Center on campus. This will be the first presidential election during which handing out food and other promotional items is prohibited. Bayes discussed the difference between SGA elections at UCF versus the University of Florida, where students run under specific parties. For the first time since 1999, a minority party, the Access Party, won the election, ending the reign of the Swamp Party, according to the Independent Florida Alligator.
The presence of parties at UCF, Bayes said, "would ultimately hurt us." However, switching the polling station from the myUCF Portal to Webcourses, a site students visit every day, was discussed at the luncheon.
And although their list of goals and accomplishments goes on and on — including campus visits from Herman Cain and Joe Saunders, the launch of educational events such as Brain Food, Life Skills and Basic Car Maintenance, the implementation of an online appointment system for the Health Center, tailgate supply program and RSO resource center — Bayes and Altfield hope to transfer their ideas to the warm bodies that will follow them.
Of their time at UCF and as student body president and vice president, Bayes left off on a sentimental note.
"It's amazing how fast it goes by."