Video: Cait & Jarell hold rally at UCF Video by Caroline Glenn, Central Florida Future
When presidential candidate Cait Zona started at UCF, it wasn't student government or Greek life that called to her. It was helping others.
The presidential hopeful, along with her running mate Jarell Jones, held a rally Sunday night at the campus Burger U to announce their platform, "Your campus. Your experience. Your legacy," an extension of their tagline "Unleash your legacy."
Zona, who now serves as SGA's Speaker of the Senate and wears the emblem of Tri Delta, began her Knighthood journey as the director of youth and mentoring for Volunteer UCF. And now, with her name on the ballot for student body president, Zona looks to continue her passion for helping students, not just on campus, but all the way to Tallahassee.
After attending a Board of Governors meeting at the state capitol, where funding for the downtown campus was discussed, Zona was left wondering, "Why are we still on the back burner?" As the second-largest university in the nation, she wants those on Capitol Hill to take notice of the needs of the Knights over in Orlando.
Textbook affordability, Bright Futures availability during summer semesters and alterations to the excess credit hour surcharge that's been hitting students are items she hopes to address.
She also referenced a student petition calling for more security cameras inside parking garages, which she plans to pursue if elected. However, instead of finding the funds in students' wallets, the university fee committee chair hopes to reach out to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
"We want to reach out and make sure that politicians know UCF is in their territory and that we need to have these things there," she said. "We need to make sure that our students are safe and their belongings are safe."
Concerning student safety, Zona explained the she and Jones have also looked into increasing lighting near the "Greek Ghetto," where just this past week students reported hearing gunshots. However, that's something that would require a collaboration between students and homeowners, as well as the county.
Better representation, Jones added, is something UCF needs at satellite campuses as well. During a visit to UCF's Rosen campus, he said hospitality students wanted to feel more included and have more resources like those at the main campus. Inclusivity in general, is something the duo hopes to tackle, bringing together student organizations, agencies and SGA. A new position, a diversity initiative coordinator, would also be among their list of goals in order to do so.
At the rally, Zona and Jones also emphasized making students more aware of the resources available to them. With funding for an RSO Resource Center already locked down, they intend to see the project through, along with a few new undertakings, such as a phone app to connect students with parts of campus. Zona would also like to see more advertisement of student jobs and internships, possibly to accompany the emails through which UCF informs students of events and weather.
Along with expansion of Knight LYNX and SGA's bike rental, the two will also push for a new service called Knightro's Closet, from where students could rent business clothes for job interviews. It would be fairly similar to Knight's Pantry, Zona said.
Concerning what sets her apart from opponents Richard Stein and Brian Zagrocki, she said her experience working under three different administrations, including Melissa Westbrook and Weston Bayes — who have recently endorsed the candidate — have given her the experience to better know what works and what doesn't.
"A lot of the platform points, we want people to know that they're actually doable, they're feasible," she explained. "So we're not going to stand up there and say we can change the world, but we know about things that we can actually advocate for."
Knowing the daily ins and outs of SGA will also enable her to get started right away in office, instead of taking a few months to settle in, she said.
"I've kind of seen Cait grow up throughout SGA and throughout different involvement. I've really found great leadership in seeing her develop," Bayes said of Zona. Jones is also a member of Bayes' cabinet, an experience the current SGA president believes will make Jones a great vice president.
Caroline Glenn is the News Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @byCarolineGlennor email her at CarolineG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.