VIDEO: Student Senate Officer Runoff Election Results

April 7, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

Runoff Election Results from on Vimeo.

The results for the runoff election for the presidency and the vice presidency of the Southern Methodist University Student Senate are in.

Student Body Vice President Austin Prentice is president elect while Dedman II Senator Alex Ehmke is vice president elect.

Run-Off Election For President, Vice Presidential Candidates Begins Wednesday

April 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Daily Mustang Staff

The polls are in and without an overwhelming number of votes for any one presidential or vice presidential candidate to represent the SMU Student Senate, there will be a run-off election.

Student Senate Membership Committee Chair Katherine Ladner gave the SMU Daily Mustang the final count for each candidate.

The unopposed secretary candidate and freshman Martha Pool will be SMU’s 2011-2012 secretary after receiving 1649 votes.

Next week’s presidential run-off election will be between Austin Prentice, who got 876 votes, and Katie Perkins, who got 826 votes. The third candidate, Sam Mansfield, lost with 558 votes.

Vice presidential candidate Roza Essaw received 1,028 votes with Alex Ehmke trailing close behind with 1,002. Joseph Esau lost with only 262 votes.

The polls are cleared as the run-off election begins again April 6-7.

Once decided, winning candidates will be inaugurated on the last week in April.

VP Candidate Controversy Swirls As Elections Begin

March 30, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

By Andy Garcia and Aida Ahmed,


Voting began today for Student Senate Elections amid allegations of negative campaigning among vice presidential candidates.

The vice presidential candidates are:
-Alex Ehmke
-Joseph Esau
-Roza Essaw

During the Student Senate meeting Tuesday, Student Body President Jake Torres told the legislature that some of the campaigns had become heated and that such behavior is a poor reflection on the senate.

Campaigning for the elections began on March 20, following a mandatory candidate meeting where Senate Membership Chair Katherine Ladner spoke about the campaigning rules. Students running in the election are required to follow the Student Senate Election Code.

Since that meeting however, two VP candidates have accused each other of making ambiguous statements against their competitors.

Statements Regarding Stances on the Minority Senate Seats

The first known statement occurred during a Women’s Interest Network meeting on March 22 at which Essaw mentioned her stance on minority senate seats, particularly the potential LGBT seat.

Essaw has confirmed with the SMU Daily Mustang that she stated Alex Ehmke was against the LGBT seat and voted against it last year. She also said that she does not know Ehmke’s current stance on the issue.

“Alex Ehmke says that his opinions [on the LGBT seat] have changed,” said Essaw. “There is no way to know [his opinion on the LGBT seat] unless legislation is brought up. Last year, legislation was brought up, he voted against it.”

Senator Harvey Luna, who is writing legislation to create the LGBT seat, has stated that Ehmke has shown interest in his work. Luna has also said that Ehmke has voiced concerns about a means in which the LGBT community at SMU can elect an appropriate senator.

Monday night, Ehmke addressed the Association of Black Students and told them that he does not support the special interest seats.

“Alex’s speech was perceived negatively by the ABS general membership,” said ABS Vice President Courtney Kelly. “He basically said he does not support the special interest seat for the African-American senator. His reasoning was that… there were a number of first-year senators that are minorities so therefore there really is no need for there to be an African-American seat.”

When asked why he did not support special interest seats at the Student Body Officer Debate, Ehmke said as vice president he would implement the Liaison Program to better communicate with leaders in minority organizations.

After a phone interview with the SMU Daily Mustang Ehmke added that although he does not support interest seats, he is in favor of the LGBT seat as long as special interest seats exist. He also confirmed that he previously had discussions with Luna on how to make the election mechanism work for the LGBT seat.

“I think the Liaison Program would be a better and effective way of representing minorities,” said Ehmke. “We not longer need interest seats to subsidize the election of minorities because they’ve proven themselves perfectly able to be elected.”

Ehmke cited that this year, out of the five first-year senators, two are African-American, two are Asian and one is Hispanic.

Statements Regarding Lack of Interest In IFC and Subsequent Complaint Filling and Procedure

Ehmke told the SMU Daily Mustang that on March 24 he went to the International Fraternity Council meeting and made statements that Essaw was not interested in the organization.

“[Ehmke] mentioned his opponent wasn’t [at the meeting] and would not represent Greek life as he would,” said IFC President Mike Alberts. “He insinuated that she didn’t want to be [at the meeting].”

Essaw has stated that she did not attend the meeting due to a time conflict with night class and a paper she had due. Essaw said that she does value the Greek community on campus.

Essaw has also said Ehmke left her a voice mail the following Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for what he said at the IFC meeting.

Essaw later submitted a formal complaint against Ehmke to the Membership Committee on March 29. She said that the complaint was not meant to disqualify him, but to have him make a public apology.

Following the complaint being submitted, Ehmke was required to attend a closed door Complaint Hearing where he was found not guilty of violating the election code.

Chair Ladner, who oversaw the hearing, has declined to comment on the situation citing that is over and now up for the candidates to deal with.

Despite his concerns about the hearing, Ehmke is satisfied with the verdict.

“Once all the facts were considered and once all the people were able to determine objectively what actually happened, what actually had been said, the call of slander did not hold a lot of ground,” said Ehmke.

Reaction Towards Campaign Behavior

Many students believe the conflict in the vice presidential elections are a poor reflection on both the senate and SMU as a whole.

“It makes our campus look bad and make the people who do it look bad,” said freshman Kaylin Flores.

Esau, who declined to comment on the situation between his fellow vice presidential candidates, said he does believe that it is important for candidates to run a race in a way that best exemplifies the university.

“It is always in the best interest to maintain a positive campaign because at the end of the day as a student body officer we are elected to represent the community of Southern Methodist University,” said Esau.

Ehmke and Essaw have both commended their opponents on their service to the university and are citing the controversy a result of politics rather than personality.

Voting began Wednesday at midnight and closes Thursday at 5 p.m.

The Daily Update: Tuesday, March 29

March 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

President Obama explains why he feels U.S. involvement in Libya is necessary. At least 120 people are dead after an ammunition factory exploded in Yemen, and religious leaders in Washington are going on a hunger strike. Here on the hilltop, candidates for SMU Student Senate will debate tonight at five p.m. All this and more on today’s Daily Update.

The Daily Update: Tuesday, March 29 from on Vimeo.

Campus EMTs and LGBT Senate Seat in Question

March 28, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By: Stephanie Collins

The student senate held its second ever Town Hall meeting, which is intended to allow students to voice their opinions and closely interact with student senators, Thursday.

Although this kind of meeting was used by SMU student senators long ago to directly address the needs of students, it has not been used in the past 10 or 15 years, according to first year Dedman I Senator Parminder Deo.

“This is a much more open, casual setting,” said Deo.

The meeting, which was held in the Umphrey Lee dining room, focused on the recently discussed issue of adding an LGBT seat to the student senate, as well as an initiative to create a student-run emergency medical system program on campus.

Student Zac Friske presented the idea of a student EMS system, a proposal the student senate has been working on for over a year.

Because of SMU’s location, both the Highland Park and University Park fire stations respond to emergencies on the campus. According to Friske, however, there has been concern that emergency response teams are not always able to make it to campus within the promised five-minute window.

Because a heart attack, for example, requires emergency attention within three minutes, Friske said, it is essential that emergency response teams are more available to the SMU campus.

The student EMS system would be a volunteer organization of SMU students or members of the surrounding community who are EMT trained and would be able to provide emergency assistance immediately from on-campus locations.

“We want it to be open to every major, not just pre-med students,” said Friske, who said that any student could be trained and volunteer for the program.

The cost of EMT training, however, is around $1,000. Although EMT certification would last up to 10 years, the price may be steep for students looking to volunteer.

“We are working on finding a way to lower the cost. We want it to be open for everyone,” said Friske.

The other major topic discussed at the meeting was the question of whether or not to form an LGBT seat for the student senate.

Dedman II Senator Harvey Luna discussed the issue, who said that if the seat is created, only students who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community will be able to vote for the senator who takes the position. This does not include students who have been trained by SMU’s Allies program.

According to Luna, the LGBT community specifically has needs that should be addressed on campus, which is why a student senate position would be beneficial.

The next Student Senate Town Hall meeting will be held Wednesday, March 30 at 4 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg commons.

VIDEO: Campaigning Begins for General Election

March 22, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

A program that will bring national news publications to campus now has the support of the SMU’s Student Senate.

Elections for next year’s Legislature are coming soon, so make sure to keep an eye out for candidate Facebook groups and webpages.

Senate Report: Campus Minorities Win Victory

March 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

After issues navigating through the Senate Organization Committee the Women’s Graduate Organization has gained chartered status from the SMU Student Senate. Also, legislation supporting the university’s LGBT students in now in effect. All this and more on today’s Senate Report.

Senate Report: Tuesday, March 1 from on Vimeo.

Senate Report: Tuesday, Feb. 15

February 15, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

New senators were sworn into office today and a bill regarding charted organizations was brought to the floor. All this and more on your Senate Report.

Senate Report: Tuesday, Feb. 16 from on Vimeo.

VIDEO: Student Senate Report

February 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Video and Editing by Andy Garcia

Southern Methodist University’s student senate passed two new pieces of legislation today while President Jake Torres reported on what SMU might possibly due to make up for last week’s closures.

Student Senate Recap: Tuesday, Feb. 8 from on Vimeo.

New Student Senate Representatives Inaugurated

April 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Thomas “T.J” Faust

Student senate representatives for the 2010-2011 school year were inaugurated in the Hughes-Trigg Commons for their up coming terms Tuesday April 27.

President Gerald R. Turner praised the outgoing senators for their commitment and work to the university, and spread words of encouragement for the incoming senate representatives.

President Turner recalls the year

President Turner conveyed the new plans for the university with the new committee members including the opening of a new education building and the expansion of parking for SMU students.

“It has been a good year despite the economy,” President Turner said. “There has been a lot of growth on campus. To the new student representatives, it is a quick year. Approach your jobs with a sense of urgency.”

SMU junior, Spencer Gordon, thought President Turner’s speech hit on all of the right notes.

“I think it’s awesome we have a president who cares so much about the development of our school. It seems like he puts a lot of faith into the student leaders and actively works with them to see that development through.”

Jennifer Jones, the current faculty advisor to the Student Senate, stressed the importance of each individual and encouraged every representative to work together.

Student Body President Patrick Kobler fires up the newly elected

Current student body president Patrick Kobler also gave a speech talking about the previous year and the accomplishments made. Kobler then announced the new president, Jake Torres.

“I cannot tell you how pleased I am to turn the presidency over to someone as hard working and dedicated as Jake Torres,” Kobler said.

Kobler then welcomed the newest leaders and encouraged them to make the school theirs by listening to the other students and administration. He then went on to thank the SMU administration for their support and for working with him over the past four years.

Kobler leaves with a charge to the new representatives.

“You have been given the gift to make this university better and a gift to listen to the students who voted for you,” Kobler said. “This is your true opportunity to leave your mark on SMU.”

President-elect Jake Torres then took the podium after taking his oath of office and swore in the new senators. After thanking all of his supporters during the campaign he went on to outline some changes for the upcoming year and congratulated the outgoing administration on a great term.

Students react to the inauguration

Students and administrators filled the event as they watched event take place.

“It was very cool to see such an event happen on SMU,” junior Dylan Mesh said.

“It is important for these senators to realize how important they are to the development of the university, and I think they see that through this inauguration.”

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