Students make voices heard through UCF petitions
When someone signs a petition, they may tend to write their name next to a cause in support and then forget about it. But with at least 18 UCF student-created petitions on the change.org website, one may be curious as to whether UCF takes such actions into account when making decisions.
Once such petition was named "In Honor of Michael Namey Let's Get More AEDs Placed Around UCF!" and created by freshman biomedical sciences major Gabi Davis in honor of freshman Michael Namey, who collapsed in his precalculus class Sept. 21. On Sept. 23, news of his death spread across the campus. The petition called for more automated external defibrillators, or AEDS, on campus.
Davis' petition stressed the importance of readily accessible AEDs, asking that the UCF Student Government Association invest in more AEDs on campus. In the first five days since it went live, the petition had garnered more than 900 supporters.
Such petitions are becoming a powerful tool when it comes to influencing new policies at UCF.
"UCF takes the feedback of its students and faculty and staff members seriously," UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said. "Changes are already underway."
Another recent petition that gained traction demanded a faster Internet connection at Knights Circle. Created by Adam Cohen, the petition argues that the apartment complex's poor Internet-connection speeds harm its residents' academic progress. The petition was established late August and collected more than 600 supporters.
Both petitions drew from their creators' experiences in order to further emphasize the importance of their respective causes. Davis' petition referenced her experience as a certified emergency medical responder; Cohen's petition referenced his work as an aspiring digital artist.
Cohen's petition also inspired Knights Circle residents to go a step further. The petition's web page urged residents to call and write letters, providing several phone numbers and web addresses. Many of those calls are made directly to Knights Circle's General Manager, Robert Myers.
"Most complaints are directed to Airwaves [Knights Circle's Internet service provider], but I receive calls and letters from concerned students and parents at least once a day," Myers said.
When a petition accomplishes its goal, a small box labeled "victory" appears next to the title in the website's search engine, with details confirming the victory posted on the web page. Victorious petitions include one that was meant to raise UCF faculty salaries, and another aimed to discontinue UCF's food-service providers' use of battery cages for egg-laying hens.
Both Cohen's and Davis' petitions have started to see some successes of their own. In Davis' case, Gilmartin assured students that UCF is doing all it can to prevent further tragedies.
"We're looking into our AED availability and policies to see what we can do better. We're also encouraging students to take first-aid and CPR classes," Gilmartin said.
In Cohen's case, Myers confirmed a new infrastructure upgrade taking place at Knights Circle.
"We haven't got a firm date on it yet, so we haven't made any announcements," Myers said. "But a new connection should be up soon."
Past UCF petitions on the website include movements to remove the tailgate reservation system, to revoke the ban on string-back tank tops at the Recreation and Wellness Center and to install more security cameras in UCF's parking garages.
Nicole Garcia is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.