The UCF campus may see a pedestrian walkway across Alafaya Trail or more LGBTQ-community inclusion, depending on the outcome of this year’s Student Government Association elections. On March 11, the SGA presidential and vice presidential candidates participated in an involvement debate in the Key West Ballroom where they discussed their goals and experiences regarding campus life. An official presidential debate between candidates Weston Bayes and Jessica Gottsleben will be held March 18, and voting opens for students March 24.
Bayes partnered with Sydney Altfield for a campaign based on the slogan “stand uknighted.” Bayes serves as Senate President Pro Tempore, Activity & Service Fee vice chair and previously served as the homecoming comedy knight director. Altfield is the president of Alpha Phi Epsilon, a member of the library advisory board and previously served as the homecoming concert director.
“All of the different places that I’ve put my foot through the door have definitely shaped my leadership skills,” Altfield said.
Gottsleben and running mate Lucdwin Luck could be “revolutionizing knighthood” if elected. Gottsleben is the student director of Knightcast, sits on the library advisory board and served as vice president of Honors Congress. Luck is a brother of the Theta Chi fraternity, works at Transfer & Transition Services, is the secretary for Student Veterans of America and is himself a U.S. Marine Corp veteran. Gottsleben said that her ticket represents all Knights, as she is non-Greek, and Luck is a non-traditional, 28-year-old transfer student.
“I’m a servant leader, so I do not serve for myself,” said Gottsleben. “If the student body wants something, that’s what we want to deliver.”
Both campaigns agreed on the importance of delivering a safe environment to students.
“We look at safety, but we don’t realize that there’s things that we can’t see. Yes, we can try to handle safety that is directly on campus, but what about off-campus housing communities?” said Gottsleben.
Bayes countered by explaining his ticket’s plan for off-campus safety. He and Altfield proposed a walking bridge over Alafaya Trail that would allow pedestrians to safely cross the street.
“You’re crossing almost six lanes of traffic trying to get to campus from off-campus housing, and that’s so dangerous, and every Knight should feel safe when they try and come to campus,” said Bayes. “It shouldn’t be a hassle; it shouldn’t be a danger; it shouldn’t be a risk if you try to come to your own campus.”
Though both candidates also stressed the importance of inclusion, Gottsleben and Luck emphasized this goal particularly toward the LGBTQ community. When introducing themselves, Gottsleben and Luck stated their gender pronoun preferences as “she” and “her,” and “he” and “him,” respectively.
“The LGBTQ+ community of UCF is my family, and I want to make sure that non-gender-binary students for once have a voice and that their trans issues are for once respected on campus,” she said.
Gottsleben and Luck seek to make the Safe Zone program as inclusive as possible, as she said the former ally program was misrepresenting the meaning of being an ally by giving the perspective that cisgendered, heterosexual people could not respond accordingly with the needs of the community.
These goals are just some of many platform points that the candidates will promote throughout the campaign.
SGA President Melissa Westbrook attended the event and advised that, while they are campaigning, candidates should “do it with passion or not at all.” The outgoing president also endorsed Bayes and Altfield as her successors.
“I’m fully standing behind them and giving them my 100-percent support,” said Westbrook.