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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Resigned president enrolls at North Dakota, StuGov declines to comment

Emily+Roberts+talking+about+mental+health+and+advocating+during+the+Student+Government+presidential+debate+on+Feb+21%2C+2023.+
Marijke Mendeszoon
Emily Roberts talking about mental health and advocating during the Student Government presidential debate on Feb 21, 2023.

After a summer serving as Iowa State’s 70th student body president, Emily Roberts resigned and transferred universities. Student Government released a statement weeks before the start of the fall semester, which included one sentence pertaining to the resignation, indicating Roberts “resigned from the position.” 

The Daily received a statement from Roberts regarding her resignation, but it was later retracted.

At the start of the fall semester, Roberts’ LinkedIn profile listed her as a master’s student in energy engineering at the University of North Dakota. Her LinkedIn profile has since been deleted.

Roberts became the first Iowa State Student Government president to resign in 41 years and the fourth since the office was created in 1958. 

Inconsistent North Dakota status 

The Daily was unable to confirm Roberts’ graduate status in energy engineering at North Dakota through its registrar’s office. Roberts is an undergraduate student at North Dakota majoring in chemical engineering, which the Daily confirmed through matching information between Iowa State and North Dakota’s office of the registrar.

Before her sudden exit from office and the university, Roberts was a senior studying chemical engineering. According to records provided by the Iowa State Office of the Registrar, Roberts did not exit Iowa State University with a degree and was slated to graduate after the 2024 summer semester. 

However, the 69th Iowa State Student Government President, Jacob Ludwig, said Roberts told him she was in a 4+1 program at Iowa State to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years, but Ludwig said he had not verified that status. 

Absent response

Roberts’ resignation came just months after running for and winning the position. Aside from the single sentence in the release, the reasoning for the resignation has not been publicly addressed by Student Government. The Daily has offered advisers, senators and current and former executive officers multiple opportunities to comment. 

Student Government adviser Sophia Sarver stated in an email response to the Daily immediately following the Aug. 7 news release that the resignation was for “personal reasons.” When asked for comment for this article, Sarver said the release and prior response addressed the matter. 

During the first senate meeting of the fall semester, Student Government President Jennifer Holliday did not mention her running mate by name or the word “resignation.” 

“Over the summer, a vacancy arose in the position of president of the student body,” Holliday said on Aug. 23. “This is something that was unexpected.”

Holliday declined to comment regarding the resignation. Roberts’ chief of staff, Anna Hackbarth, now Speaker of the Senate and senior in electrical engineering, also declined to comment.

Graduate and Professional Student Senate Vice President Eddie Mahoney, a graduate student in computer science, endorsed the Roberts-Holliday campaign last spring and said in an interview with the Daily, “it sucked that Emily felt she needed to resign for personal reasons.”

“I knew at the end of the day, that was her decision, and I knew Jennifer was going to do a great job as president, and so far, she has,” Mahoney said.

Regarding the resignation, Ludwig, who served prior to Roberts being sworn in and endorsed her campaign, said, “I don’t think the full story is something that needs to be put in the public eye at this time.”

“A transition like this is complicated and dragging it out in front of everyone isn’t fair to a number of people involved,” Ludwig said. 

Ludwig said he was unaware of Roberts’ transfer until he was asked for comment about this article in September and that he was “surprised” and “had no idea that was coming.”

“Given what happened and her exiting both Student Government and Iowa State, I thought it was strange that she had transferred to UND,” Ludwig said. “I wouldn’t have expected that and I was definitely caught off guard.”

The previous two Student Government presidential resignations in 1967 and 1982 addressed the reasoning behind their resignations shortly after doing so at events run or sponsored by the Student Government. Those presidents faced impeachment proceedings for breaking the law, among other things, which has not been indicated to the Daily by any member of the Senate in Roberts’ case. 

Roberts’ summer presence and scholarship

Citing personal finance privacy concerns and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, the university denied multiple records requests to prove or disprove whether Roberts received a scholarship for temporarily serving in the role.

The Daily has been unable to verify when Roberts decided not to return to Iowa State and if the timing impacted her absence at the Board of Regents meeting in June during discussion on 2023-24 tuition increases. Iowa State Student Government then-Vice President Holliday attended instead and, according to meeting minutes, became the first Iowa State Student Government vice president since 2004 to make a formal appearance at a Board of Regents meeting without the president.

Inquiring via public records requests and through the chief officers of Student Government, the Daily could not confirm if Roberts accepted the $2,000 summer scholarship or the $5,350 fall semester scholarship corresponding with the position. University administration denied two requests for such information, citing Iowa Code 22.7(1) as preventing the release of such information.

The Student Government Bylaws stipulate that the president will be eligible to receive the scholarship for that semester if they reside in Story County during that time. If the president fails to complete the number of credit hours, they must make restitution for the difference between tuition paid and tuition for which credits were earned.

Whether Roberts’ summer residence was in Story County or North Dakota has not been confirmed by the Daily, as well as the completion of credits during the summer.

16
View Comments (16)
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Comments (16)

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  • M

    Matt | Oct 12, 2023 at 6:34 am

    Excellent investigation into this matter, appreciate this story.

    Reply
  • S

    Susie Chapman | Oct 10, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    KEEP THIS UP! Cloe Westin, you routinely report top-tier pieces, and thank you for writing this follow-up piece to your initial post about this unfortunate and untimely exit. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The article is simply questioning quite a long and misleading trail that Ms. Roberts left behind, all pointing to this being pre-planned and thus hurting the university if she had plans of leaving without telling. It is shady that she listed UND ‘Master Chemical Engineering’ when they may only confirm ‘undergrad Chem Engineering.’ This is a simple question of whether her only reason to take this position was to further her career as a short-term presidential stay, followed by over-reaching and blatantly lying about credentials, is wrong and illegal. I agree Ms. Roberts does not have to comment on this matter, as I am sure she knows the legal repercussions of lying about degrees may harm her future. To Mr. Ludwig, we need to know the reasoning behind this; if it is public knowledge, please share it. You represent us. I find it appealing that the university was about to cite ‘privacy and FERP’ to skirt the question if Ms. Roberts received monetary scholarship aid for her position. This seems pre-planned, just opinion, not fact, and is under protected speech. Thank you for listening to my opinion.

    Reply
  • T

    Tabi Etten | Oct 10, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    Take this down.

    Reply
    • S

      Susie Chapman | Oct 10, 2023 at 7:11 pm

      KEEP THIS UP! Cloe Westin, you routinely report top-tier pieces, and thank you for writing this follow-up piece to your initial post about this unfortunate and untimely exit. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The article is simply questioning quite a long and misleading trail that Ms. Roberts left behind, all pointing to this being pre-planned and thus hurting the university if she had plans of leaving without telling. It is shady that she listed UND ‘Master Chemical Engineering’ when they may only confirm ‘undergrad Chem Engineering.’ This is a simple question of whether her only reason to take this position was to further her career as a short-term presidential stay, followed by over-reaching and blatantly lying about credentials, is wrong and illegal. I agree Ms. Roberts does not have to comment on this matter, as I am sure she knows the legal repercussions of lying about degrees may harm her future. To Mr. Ludwig, we need to know the reasoning behind this; if it is public knowledge, please share it. You represent us. I find it appealing that the university was about to cite ‘privacy and FERP’ to skirt the question if Ms. Roberts received monetary scholarship aid for her position. This seems pre-planned, just opinion, not fact, and is under protected speech. Thank you for listening to my opinion.

      Reply
  • H

    Hagen Carter | Oct 10, 2023 at 11:21 am

    This article could’ve been left at “She left for personal reasons.”

    Reply
  • C

    Cody | Oct 10, 2023 at 11:11 am

    I’m sure student government will remember this article when they decide to vote on your next budget. Pathetic.

    Reply
  • K

    Kevin | Oct 10, 2023 at 11:05 am

    I’ve been reading the Daily for 46 years. This is the worst excuse for a story I’ve ever seen. Embarrassing!

    Reply
  • C

    Carleigh | Oct 10, 2023 at 10:44 am

    Leave this poor girl alone. I’m sure the decision to resign was difficult, she doesn’t need the entire student body peering into her personal buisness. This isn’t news, no one needs to know what she chose to do after leaving ISU. This article is a disgrace to student journalism and I’m shocked it got approved to run.

    Reply
  • J

    Jake Methlie | Oct 10, 2023 at 10:20 am

    What an incredibly weird and unnecessary piece of writing this is. You don’t know what she has going on in her life. Maybe she lives in North Dakota and has something going on with family that she needs to be closer to home for. Maybe Iowa State was a negative place for her. Trying to get her personal financial and scholarship information? Really? This isn’t MSNBC reporting about Trump. She’s a college student like everyone else, and just like the kid that wrote this. Take this down.

    Reply
  • B

    Brenna | Oct 10, 2023 at 10:02 am

    No need to put someone’s personal life in the public eye like this, She’s just a college student that probably resigned for valid reasons and is already hard on herself for having to make that choice. Take this disgusting tabloid story down

    Reply
  • E

    Elizabeth | Oct 10, 2023 at 9:22 am

    This journalist needs to be fired. This is really gross, like… Snuff tabloid level. Not the quality I expect from Iowa State. Especially in regards to a fellow student. Disgusting.

    Reply
    • E

      Eli | Oct 10, 2023 at 9:23 pm

      I feel like it’s a hell of a stretch to compare this to snuff media

      Reply
  • J

    Jack | Oct 10, 2023 at 9:10 am

    This is really creepy tabloid behavior, shame on you for going investigative journalist on a student who obviously does not want the attention. This is borderline harassment, take it down.

    Reply
  • W

    Wade Andersen | Oct 10, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Why is the Daily printing this? This is not news. This is something I would expect from a cheap tabloid, not a Big 12 University Student Newspaper. Someone had too much time on their hands in your office, I suppose.

    Reply
  • L

    Lori Wildeman | Oct 10, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Please drop this story and leave the poor woman alone. Nobody really cares why she left, as long as the replacement is doing a good job. Digging into her ‘personal reasons’ for leaving is just tabloid behavior. I don’t read the Iowa State Daily for gossip, so please don’t turn it into a salacious, lurid rag by continuing to dig into this former student’s life. She’s moved on, why can’t the Daily??????

    Reply
    • M

      Mary Schaefer | Oct 10, 2023 at 9:10 am

      Absolutely—Lori is 100 percent correct. Move on. This isn’t journalism this is just butting into someone’s personal business. She formally resigned. She’s replaced. Things change. She didn’t skip out with the family silverware.

      Reply