Four candidates were announced to replace Charles Kennedy as Glasgow University rector this afternoon: Alan Bissett, Kelvin Holdsworth, Graeme Obree and Edward Snowden.
The surprise of the day was whistleblower Edward Snowden’s decision to stand as a candidate. The former US NSA (National Security Agency) contractor who fled the US after revealing extensive internet and phone surveillance by the NSA last year is currently staying in Russia with temporary asylum.
In a statement released by the “Edward Snowden For Rector” facebook page, his supporters: “call on Glasgow University students as individuals, and all student bodies committed to ending state intrusion into our private lives, to declare their support for Edward Snowden’s candidacy.”
The group also commented that: “Edward Snowden’s candidacy is a unique opportunity to show our gratitude to a brave whistleblower.”
The position of rector is a three-year role and duties include attending meetings of Court, working closely with the SRC, and bringing student concerns to the attention of the University’s managers. The rector for the last six years has been Charles Kennedy, former Liberal Democrat party leader.
Snowden’s celebrity could make him a favourite in the race, despite the fact that the three remaining candidates have past links with the University or city.
Graeme Obree, also known as The Flying Scotsman, is a cyclist endorsed by GUSA and LGBTQ+. He was individual pursuit world champion in 1993 and 1995 and studied engineering at Glasgow in 1989, but did not graduate. Obree suffers from Bipolar disorder and said he would “provide a listening ear to intelligent young people who may be suffering depression or need to discuss issues.”
He was the first of the candidates to be revealed and said on his nomination: “It took me two minutes to accept the invite to stand as rector.”
Kelvin Holdsworth is the Rector and Provost of St. Mary’s Cathedral on Great Western Road. He claims that he would be a “working rector” as he lives close to the University and would use campaign skills learned through campaigning for gay marriage and human rights generally. He was listed in 2012 as the UK’s 91st most influential LGBT person by the Independent on Sunday.
Alan Bissett, the playwright, novelist and former creative writing tutor at the University, has been nominated by the Glasgow University Yes Society. Bissett said on the facebook page supporting his nomination that, if elected, he would campaign for: “an increase in the number of women on University bodies and committees, and for Glasgow becoming a more inclusive place for all to come and study at.”
With the fact that the nominees are all male, Bissett has called for an extension to today’s deadline for nominations. He said:
“Myself and my fellow candidates are no doubt fine candidates for the position of Rector, but there is an obvious problem in that this is an all-male selection.
As such, I’m writing to Professor John Briggs, Clerk of Senate and Vice Principal of the University, urging the university to allow for an extension of the nomination deadline by one week to allow the nomination of female candidates, and I hope my fellow candidates will support me in this.”
The election for rector will be held on 17 and 18 February.