In a move perhaps non-typical of past Student Government Association presidents, Cait Zona, UCF’s 47th SGA president, wrote a letter to UCF's student population that was sent out in a mass email the morning of Feb. 19.
The 2,072-word letter is an initiative Zona independently took upon herself without informing fellow SGA Senate members until their weekly SGA Senate meeting on Feb. 18 – the very night the letter was scheduled to be sent out in a campus-wide email.
“I realized that throughout my term much of the fine work that our administration has been doing has been overshadowed by short quotes and soundbites,” Zona said in an email. “Because of that, I wanted to be sure that the Student Body was made aware of our progress and had a personal letter from me about my feelings throughout the year.”
The letter outlined the accomplishments she and SGA’s Executive Cabinet spent the year doing, her work with the Florida Student Association and UCF Cares, future expansions and renovations planned for parking garage B and the Student Union, and a new program in collaboration with Knight’s Pantry called Knightro’s Suits.
Knightro’s Suits is a clothing-rental program for students needing professional attire that Zona and Jarrell Jones, the SGA vice president, have passionately pushed for since the start of their time in office. They will first purchase blazers to launch the program and then ask local partners to donate.
“I think providing professional attire to students will give them the confidence to go out to internship fairs, apply for jobs, and get ready for the real world,” Zona said when asked how she hopes the program will help students.
The clothing-rental program is not the only future program Zona has set out to complete before graduating from UCF this semester as one of the 20 students who will receive the Order of Pegasus Award.
In a joint collaboration involving UCFPD, the Office of Security Management and UCF’s Parking and Transportation Services, a second program to boost safety in UCF’s parking garages by installing security cameras and license plate recognition systems is under progress.
After analyzing crime statistics for all the garages in order to prioritize which garages should be addressed first, garage B has been selected as the first to receive the equipment.
The hope is that the cameras will help document when vehicles enter and leave a garage, and the license plate readers will both aid police to identify and flag any vehicle that has been reported stolen and detect which vehicles have been registered with parking services.
“This has been a team effort from the start, and we’re excited about the potential this technology holds,” Courtney Gilmartin, the UCFPD spokeswoman, said in an email. “Whether every garage will receive cameras and LPRs is still under review; it really depends on funding.”
Another future goal projected to be completed by the end of this semester is the addition of phone-charging stations in the Student Union. Its exact location has yet to be decided, but it will be able to charge both Android and iPhone devices.
For security reasons, the charging stations’ plugs and power outlets will be located inside eight lockers, each of which will contain four different plugs and a power outlet.
“Each locker has a code so students will be able to leave their possessions and return without worry,” Zona said.
In the longest section of the open letter, Zona highlighted the initiatives and achievements of executive cabinet members in a ‘Did you know?’ question format.
One of the executive cabinet members she spotlighted was Nick Larkins, SGA’s facilities, transportation and safety coordinator, who is said to have increased Knight Flight ridership by 62 percent and contributed to the addition of 10 new stops that were added to the KnightLYNX route this semester in locations along University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail, ‘weekend hotspots’ and student housing complexes.
“We know that students drink, and there is nothing that we can do about that, but myself and my team in SGA felt that the service was inadequate and by adding the stops we did, it's now much more convenient to use the service,” Larkins said in an email. “Students will drive themselves if Knight Lynx isn't convenient, so by adjusting it the way we did, we feel that the service is now more likely to be used, thereby reducing the risk of an alcohol-involved traffic fatality.
The full content of Zona's "Open Letter to the Students of UCF" can be found on the SGA website.
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com.