Did SBVP Candidate Roza Essaw Really Work on Legislation to Extend Dining Hours on Campus? A Fact-Checking Post.

SBVP Candidate Roza Essaw

Update, 11:28 p.m.: After some questions, I’d like to elaborate on why I fact-checked what I did. As far as I’m aware, there’s no written or recorded proof that Essaw is saying that she continued to work on extending dining hours after this legislation passed. Therefore, it’s impossible to prove that she is campaigning thusly. What Essaw has said on the record (through her platform) is that she had success in legislation, meaning that she got it passed.

On Thursday, we posted a note on our Facebook page asking for our readers to help us monitor campaigns. We also asked if anyone wanted us to fact-check a particular detail.

That yielded one request: to look into SBVP candidate Roza Essaw’s campaigning that she had worked to extend dining hours on campus.

Because I was not present during any of Roza’s campaigning and we don’t have a recording of it (audio or video), I decided to fact-check Roza’s campaign platform, which states:


•Success in Legislation: 2009-2011
o Resolution encouraging extension of on-campus dining hours

Did Essaw tell the truth in her campaign platform? Let’s examine:

A record of the legislation cannot be found in Student Senate’s public information files. The PIFs normally include passed legislation, although some years are known for being incomplete.

An April 14, 2010 Daily Campus article lists Essaw as one of the authors of a bill concerning dining hours on campus. However, an August 24, 2010 Daily Campus article only lists Sens. Alex Mace and David Archer as the bill authors.

The whole fact-checking process looked to be a toss-up, until two things: I read over the April 20 meeting minutes and got a copy of the bill from now-Chief of Staff Alex Mace, one of the bill’s authors (and someone listed in that August 24 story as a definite bill author).

Luke Friedman is quoted in the April 20 minutes as saying “I also am here to support Roza’s legislation. If you have thesemeals paid for, it is pointless to pay money for an additional meal,” implying that Roza was a perceived  part of the legislation.

Secondly, Essaw’s name is listed as an author on the legislation given to me by Mace.

The verdict? Essaw’s “success in legislation” platform claim is true. She was listed as a bill author on this resolution, which passed unanimously.

Got another fact-checking request? Send me an email or leave a comment.


About Meredith Shamburger

Meredith is a journalist working for the Longview News-Journal in Longview, Texas.
This entry was posted in Student Senate. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Did SBVP Candidate Roza Essaw Really Work on Legislation to Extend Dining Hours on Campus? A Fact-Checking Post.

  1. Roza Essaw says:

    Thank you Daily Campus for making this a fair election and taking the time to fact check all candidate platforms. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Roza Essaw

  2. Warren Seay says:

    great job Hilltop Politics. Roza is the best person for the VP job, she has a proven record of achievement and has served as a true advocate of the student body. Suprised this was even an issue, seems like a plant to me.

    • Charlie Sue says:

      Roza is a great contender for the position and it has been brought to my attention that several candidates have been bad-mouthing her. If everyone would just run a clean campaign and allow the voters–who can read their platforms and ask questions at the debate TUESDAY evening–to make decisions based on FACTS, the best candidate for the job will be elected.

      • L. Jones says:

        People can claim that Roza gets badmouthed, but I’ve watched Roza tear down the other candidates without regard for the truth. I watched her tell a complete lie about alex ehmke at a women’s center meeting.

        She gets little pity from me.

  3. James B. says:

    This article is incredibly misleading. Roza may have written this legislation, but that is ALL she did. The brunt of the work was done by Alex Mace, David Archer and Alex Ehmke who met with the Aramark directors and ACTUALLY worked to get this through.

    Roza can claim she is responsible for this all day long, but in the end, the way our senate works means that just writing it means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    The thanks for this does not go to Roza. It goes to the three people who ACTUALLY pushed it through.

    • Esther L. says:

      @James B. –
      “This article is incredibly misleading. Roza may have written this legislation, but that is ALL she did. The brunt of the work was done by Alex Mace, David Archer and Alex Ehmke who met with the Aramark directors and ACTUALLY worked to get this through.”

      I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but I was Roza’s roommate last year, and I personally witnessed much of her hard work in getting this piece of legislation written and passed. I know she met with Aramark people because I helped her find contact information for several of them. I saw her email people from Aramark countless times, listened to her frustration when she wasn’t getting a response, heard her excitement as she gathered more and more student support and actually met with the Aramark directors, and watched as she organized the Facebook group asking students about their opinion regarding dining hours (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115232271820519).

      I’ll admit, I don’t know a lot about how Senate works given that I’m not personally involved. However, I do know that Roza spent a LOT of time and energy researching and writing this piece of legislation. I’m not saying that Mace and Archer weren’t involved; in fact, in the Facebook group’s description, Roza wrote, “Your first year senators including myself, William Badarak, Alex Mace and David Archer will be writing legislation to resolve this issue…” If you asked her, she would absolutely tell you that she wasn’t the only person involved in writing and supporting the legislation.

      Also, I understand you and Jessica’s point that simply writing means nothing – but if no one researches and writes up legislation… how would anything ever get passed? Beyond that, as I mentioned before, Roza did a lot more than just write. She did a lot of research, got opinions from a lot of different people about how to make the legislation better, and, working with other senators, put it all together to be passed.

      @L. Jones –
      “People can claim that Roza gets badmouthed, but I’ve watched Roza tear down the other candidates without regard for the truth. I watched her tell a complete lie about alex ehmke at a women’s center meeting.”

      Just based on who I know Roza to be… I’m genuinely curious to hear what this complete lie was.

      Lastly, I also know that the LAST thing Roza wants to do is make this an unfair election. If you knew Roza at all, you would know she is really one of the most genuine people around. In my experience, she’s actually a pretty terrible liar. I cannot see her ever intentionally slandering another person, even in the political scene.

      • L. Jones says:

        For your claims, I heard Roza say ehmke did not support the LGBT seat. He has been working with Harvey Luna on that SAME SEAT since last semester, so thats just false.

        Additionally, i think its funny you say she met with people. She only did that BEFORE the legislation was written. Not after when it counted.

      • Pat T. says:

        I don’t think anyone is meaning to attack Roza. On the contrary, I just think they want her to be clear. (See my comment below.)

      • James B. says:

        I’m not saying she didn’t work on the research. I’m saying she shouldnt say she is “responsible” for passing it, which she has said SO many times.

        She needs to give people due credit when she talks about it, not just when you have to ask her what her actual role was. I also agree with Jessica. Roza can take as much credit as she wants for WRITING the legislation, but not for the work that other people did.

        And it doesn’t matter what she said in a facebook group that no one looks at any more. It matters what she says while she is campaigning. She has never mentioned any of those people in any of the public events I’ve seen her speak at. And I’ve heard her give her schpeel three times. So please don’t tell me she’s being genuine here.

        I’m sure she did work hard on research, but it shouldn’t be said that she is responsible for something she didn’t do herself. She needs to learn to give credit where credit is due, which she is absolutely not doing. And please don’t tell me she is. because before JUST NOW when you brought up something she wrote on a defunct facebook group, I had no idea any of the other first year senators had anything to do with it.

      • Jessica H. says:

        Hey Esther-

        I didn’t mean to attack Roza. Thanks for pointing that out, Pat. I do want her to be clear. I’m quite sure, and know for a fact, that she worked hard on passing this legislation.

        But I also know for a fact that after it was passed there were others that worked equally as hard to get it to actually happen.

        Passing legislation doesn’t mean anything unless the administration and the effected departments approve it. Legislation essentially functions as a suggestion.

        If students do not follow through, then it does not get done.

        While I know Roza worked hard initially, equal credit needs to be given to those who worked on it afterwards to see its completion through.

        I think Roza can totally keep talking about the work she did, and I hope she does. I just think she needs to mention that Alex Mace, Alex Ehmke and David Archer did just as much work.

      • jenn says:

        Ehmke was against the measure for the special-interest seat for LGBT at first. So was his girlfriend Senator Huseman, who works at The Daily Campus. Although Ehmke wanted to have transparency in a DC article on transparence, both him and Huseman did not want to have a roll call vote on the special-interest seat. They wanted things to be private, they even goes on the record and asks that votes not be recorded for fear of retaliation. I will continue to post minutes here.
        Students For Better Media

  4. Jessica H. says:

    I agree with James. Putting pen to paper doesn’t mean anything. Its actually pushing it through. I think its totally unfair that Roza claims she did this and then doesn’t mention the people who worked harder than she did to get it through. She should take a look at what she is saying to those she speaks to if she wants this to be a fair election.

  5. Pat T. says:

    Honestly, it is unclear. I consider Roza a friend, and I wish no harm to her or her campaign, but I think she should abridge her platform to say that she helped to pass that legislation.

    You can’t take full credit for something that you didn’t do completely by yourself in the same way that you shouldn’t have to take full responsibility for a mistake that you weren’t solely responsible for.

    I think this is an experience everyone can learn something from. It is important to be clear on precisely what you do to complete a project. If you aren’t it can come back and make you appear dishonest, even if it was totally unintentional.

  6. JW says:

    First of all, shut up and stop pointing at who did or didn’t do what. This election is for the freaking STUDENT BODY OF SMU not the next President of the United States. Get over the badmouthing because all you are doing is creating a harsh environment.

    Second, HOW CAN ANYONE SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT SUCH A SWEET GIRL?!?! I am ashamed to call any of you my peers. Roza is nothing but sweet, sincere, and caring to everyone she meets. You’re really going to bash and badmouth one of the most amazing people on our campus? We are lucky to have such a good person in our school. Now again, SHUT UP about who did or didn’t do what.

    And finally, why don’t we see any posts about some of the crap that the opposition has spread?

  7. JB says:

    It is sad to see that politics in a generation that wants honesty and integrity has not changed from that of our parents. Its great to see fact checking done by the Daily Campus but what about the other candidates? Especially when the DC was previously run by someone who holds a strong bias to another candidate. What about the presidents running? The secretaries? The senators? We can all twist words and put people down but in what is supposed to be a changing culture we should be looking at what candidates have to offer and critiquing appropriately. We shouldn’t be bashing who some one is. Clearly Roza has certainly helped in getting the hours changed with Aramark staff. Whats the argument? She didn’t lie or twist words. Some one as sweet and genuine as Roza I doubt would create stories to further her platform. She would never need to. Both candidates are great candidates that can lead SMU to a brighter future and will support our student body appropriately but we must support our fellow students, not put them down regardless of who you are friends with or who you are dating.

    • L. Jones says:

      I’m not friends with either of the candidates.

      I just know I don’t appreciate her lying to a group who has a vested interested in the LGBT seat. If she is lying about this, it seems to be a pattern.

  8. Meredith Shamburger says:

    @JB We’re planning more fact-checking posts, particularly the Student Body Officers debate this Tuesday.

  9. Pat T. says:

    Ok this has gotten out of control. Fact checking is necessary and a wonderful right that we have as Americans, regardless of whether we are critiquing the candidates for a school student body leader election, or the election for the president of the united states.

    Honestly, there is going to be a campaign manager at every turn of an election checking the other side. In this case, his campaign manager happens to also be his girlfriend. And in this case she happens to be right.

    No one is bashing anyone. No one is attacking anyone’s character. Roza’s words make it seem as though she is taking full credit for the legislation. A single person can’t take all the credit for a group project. Regardless of her intent, that’s happened.

    I think I can speak for everyone in this discussion in saying that this has absolutely nothing to do with Roza’s “sweet” and “genuine” character. I happen to agree that she is bot of those things. Thus, there is perhaps a genuine mistake in her platform. However genuine, it is still a mistake.

    She would probably be just as frustrated if her opponent too full credit for that legislation. They were both a part of the team that got it passed. So that us how it should presented.

    Now quit being mean to each other. It’s just not that serious. 🙂

  10. Roza Essaw says:

    For those who question me actually doing work on this legislation please check out the Facebook group that I created to garner support for the legislation: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115232271820519#!/ In there it explains all the work I did(to summarize it for you these are the things I did all by myself ):
    1. I took the initiative to begin the process for this legislation
    a. Without initiative, results cannot be achieved.
    2. I have gone around and spoke to about one-hundred students (mainly first years) all of which have encouraged me to please write a resolution to change the hours, I have contacted all the dining service managers and have made them aware of the issue
    3. I have contacted all the dining service managers and have made them aware of the issue, and I have multiple formal meetings with Kami Gantt, Marketing Manager for Dining Services, Victor Perli, Director of Operations and Kyle Wilson, manager of Umphrey Lee
    4. After I took those necessary steps, I was ready to proceed to the writing stage, but at that point first year senators: Willam Badarak, David Archer and John Bryant asked if they can join in, so I agreed wanting to make it a cohesive effort. Together we wrote and got the legislation passed.
    5. I made the face book group which has 652 members supporting this legislation
    6. Prior to presenting the legislation to senate, I contacted several students asking them if they can come and speak at speaker’s podium because listening to the voice of students definitely aids in the passage of legislation

    I am pretty sure that all of this communicates I did not just put pen to paper. In fact it’s more accurate to say I did more of actually coordinating the effort and less of the writing process.

    @L. Jones –
    “People can claim that Roza gets badmouthed, but I’ve watched Roza tear down the other candidates without regard for the truth. I watched her tell a complete lie about alex ehmke at a women’s center meeting.”

    • I did not lie whatsoever. In the meeting I said, Ehmke WAS against the LGBT legislation and that he VOTED against it which are 100% true since that was his position last year. Just because Ehmke changed his position on the issue now, that doesn’t invalidate the fact he was against it before. Constituents have a right to know their representatives voting records. If your definition of tearing down another candidate is telling constituents truthful voting records of their representative, than I am guilty of that.

    In summary, I have every right to include this in my achievements/platform f since I took initiative to start the process for this legislation and and helped to write it.

    If you are unsure of my work or have any questions, please personally contact me. Also, I encourage everyone to come to the debates tomorrow at 5:00pm in HT-Forum to ask question and learn about all the candidates !


  11. L. Jones says:

    Interesting Roza. That is definitely not what I heard you say at the meeting. Additionally, I think it’s interesting that you continue to leave out alex ehmke’s work on the dining hours. Just bc he didn’t sign the bill doesnt mean he didn’t meet with the dining hall directors several times over the summer. I also heard some of your supporters openly talking with people outside of dedman life science today saying that alex was racist. I find this offensive and less than candidate worthy.

  12. L. Jones says:

    In addition to my last comment, I will say that even if you did used the past tense, which I assure you you did not, what did you hope to prove by mentioning that and leaving out his current work? It was clearly an effort to mislead. I’m frankly tired of all of the things I have heard you and your supporters say against the other two candidates in this race. I know nothing about you. You don’t have a platform. You have a list of accomplishments and then a list of reasons why the other two candidates are horrible people. Or to use the words of your supporters this morning, “racist hypocrites.” next time you run, promote yourself. Don’t tear down everyone else by leading them to believe things that are no longer true.

  13. Amanda O says:

    No one is saying that Roza did absolutely no work will asking for all of the credit. The article is misleading in that it assumes that Roza did a lot of the grunt work herself without particularly specifying that she may or may not have initiated the bill as well as helped write the legislation. You can’t single handedly pass a piece of legislation so others had to be involved/help. That’s the only issue that the original comments were meant to be. Credit to where credit is due, after all and if Roza did the work, she’ll receive the appropriate amount of credit, as will the others who helped with the bill.

    However, this debate has turned rather sour. No offense but perhaps the better course of action, Roza, would be to state your side cleanly and objectively rather than slip something in that’s negative against another candidate. It detracts from your supporter’s claims that you are nice and would never bad mouth someone else, even if that wasn’t your intention (I’m not saying that you, but it’s just how it appears.)

  14. Alex Mace says:

    I suppose I’ll jump in on this, just to keep things exciting.

    I currently serve as Chief of Staff for the Senate and served as First Year Senator in 2009-2010, writing this piece along with my fellow First Years. In fact I supplied the copy of the above legislation when Meredith requested it of me (seeing as it had apparently disappeared in from the Senate files). So no need to get riled up about any controversy against one candidate or the other – I was asked for it and I produced it.

    Legislation in the Student Senate has essentially three parts: preparation/research, writing/passing, and follow through/implementation. Without all three steps, legislation will be completely ineffective and worth no more than the ink of the paper. As I will discuss, both Roza and Ehmke played vital roles in successfully assembling, passing, and implementing this legislation. And while all five First Year Senators were involved in these stages of the process, I will generally leave John Bryant, David Archer, and William Badarak out of the discussion to keep things simple.

    Roza coordinated practically all of the preparation efforts for the piece. She went to the weekly meetings and voiced student complaints, attempting to rectify the situation by advocacy instead of legislation (which is always an easier route if possible). After Aramark seemed unreceptive to those efforts, we ALL followed through on writing the piece. Roza was instrumental in getting student perspectives to make our legislation as effective as possible and, as she mentions above, brought students in to Senate’s Speakers Podium to communicate their opinion. It was discussed at length, generally agreed upon, and passed unanimously by the Senate.

    From there we needed to follow through on the legislation, particularly seeing as Aramark is technically not bound directly by Senate legislation as it is a 3rd party provider. That is where Ehmke comes in. He and I met with the Aramark leadership after the piece passed to advocate its implementation and find a mutually acceptable solution to the dining problem. Ehmke laid out the arguments in detail and represented the voices of his students very well. The leaders were receptive to limited changes and promised to implement them in full during 2010-2011 school year. Ehmke followed up with Aramark throughout the summer to ensure that those extended dining hours were indeed implemented. If you read the legislation above, you will see that the body of the piece differs slightly from the current plan. That is a product of the aforementioned discussions with Aramark, whereby we balanced the needs of the students with what was financially feasible for the company.

    So, that’s what happened. I think both Roza Essaw and Alex Ehmke can and indeed should claim an operative role in extending dining hours on campus because they each played a key part in making the changes a reality.

    I commend the Daily Campus’s fact-checking efforts. We’re taking strides toward transparency in our student government and that’s great. But while it’s encouraging to see some investigative reports a la Woodward and Bernstein, there’s simply no Watergate to find. Both Essaw and Ehmke have been excellent representatives of their constituents as Senators and have not only followed through on their commitments but have generally gone above and beyond what is asked of them.

    It’s the best VP race we’ve had in years. Let’s just try not to get ugly.

    • Pat T. says:

      @Alex Mace–Thank you for the time and effort you put into this. You are very clear and concise–a quality much appreciated. You leave little to no room for misinterpretation, which I think has been the main request of most of the people involved in this discussion. I hope your explanation will help to resolve the conflicts that have arisen out of all of this, and that the candidates will move forward accordingly.

  15. HM says:

    •Success in Legislation: 2009-2011
    o Resolution encouraging extension of on-campus dining hours
    o Resolution altering elections for First Year Senators
    o Resolution to disconnect phone lines in Writing Center

    I copied that straight from Roza’s platform. Nowhere does that say or imply that she was solely responsible for the dining hours legislation. The article itself purports that the Daily Campus received a request “to look into SBVP candidate Roza Essaw’s campaigning that she had WORKED TO extend dining hours on campus.” (emphasis added). As far as I can tell, based on my knowledge of the English language, Roza’s claim and the DC’s confirmation of that claim seem pretty clear.

    • James beard says:

      No one is talking about her platform. Everyone is talking about what she says when speaking to groups. Which is quote “I am responsible for the extended dining hours.”

  16. Gavanne Davis says:

    Roza will be a great VP. I also agree with Pat. Nothing is wrong with double-checking information (people do it all the time). Though, bad-mouthing Roza’s character is unnecessary and childish. She is an amazing person. Yet, you all should find that out for yourself, because you would agree too.

  17. James Beard says:

    What I’m taking from this is that Roza doesn’t like to take responsibility for where she has messed up.

    I’m just saying, Roza. Man up. Take responsibility and give others credit. Please stop pretending like a Facebook group is good enough.

  18. L. Jones says:

    Thanks for finally clearing that up, mace. If Roza would have explained the involvement of others before this, I feel this would have ended much sooner.

  19. HM says:

    Thank you for being a voice of reason Alex. I appreciate your balanced assessment of the situation and I hope more people will follow your lead and not get their panties in a bunch over the definition of “responsible”.

  20. Jenn says:

    Do you think it’s ironic that Jessica H. who wrote: “I agree with James. Putting pen to paper doesn’t mean anything. Its actually pushing it through. I think its totally unfair that Roza claims she did this and then doesn’t mention the people who worked harder than she did to get it through. She should take a look at what she is saying to those she speaks to if she wants this to be a fair election.” about candidate Essaw is the same person who ‘penned’ the August 24 Daily Campus article that left her name off. Seems lisloppy and inaccurate.

    Also maybe passing legislation is key, but without people starting the movement there is no movement. Rosa Parks didn’t pass the civil rights act of 1964, but she sparked the movement.

    Our Roza sparks movements to and was one of the ‘vital’ players in the dining hours legislation.

    • Pat T. says:

      I just thought you should know that “Jessica H.” admits her bias in this election, which is why she has not been covering any of it journalistically. However, as her colleague, I can attest that she has NEVER intentionally left out ANY information in a story, nor has she EVER intentionally worded anything in a way that has been misleading.

      She is a fine journalist, one of the most respectable I know. She is not careless and rarely inaccurate. A senior writer is responsible for writing countless stories. Occasionally there will be a mistake. We work on deadlines. Then, we apologize and correct those mistakes.

      The problem Jessica H. has with this issue lies in that Roza didn’t apologize or correct herself. She stated the facts correctly as a comment on this blog, and she was very clear about her role in this legislation at the debate, but she never apologized or admitted she messed up.

      I was impartial to either side of this little debate, but honestly, if Roza’s supporters are upset about people “attacking” her character, then perhaps her supporters shouldn’t attack people themselves…. But Ehmke is somehow the hypocrite here…? Your argument lost its logic when people started being immature and playing dirty.

  21. Thanks for good sharing.People can claim that Roza gets badmouthed, but I’ve watched Roza tear down the other candidates without regard for the truth. Thank you for being the voice of Alex. My vote with you.

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