The votes have been counted, the awkward congratulatory handshakes have been shook and the celebratory/commissary drinks have been drunk. After all has been said and done Edward Snowden, of NSA leaking fame, has been elected to serve as Rector for the next three years.
As someone who voted for every candidate bar Edward Snowden, I can’t help feeling that those 49% of students who voted Snowden as their first preference have made a mistake. There are several reasons why I think one of the other candidates would have been suited to the job far better than Snowden.
One of the most glaring reasons for me was Snowden was generally being championed by far-left students who see him, and I agree, as a brave rebel against the United States’ and the West’s drive to a surveillance state. Snowden however does not share the same views as these students on a pantheon of issues.
Snowden, himself an economic libertarian who voted for the Libertarian candidate in 2008 and donated to Ron Paul’s Republican presidential campaign in 2012, is as far removed from left-wing opinion as you can be. As students on this campus in 2004 were opposing the Iraq War, Snowden enlisted to join the US Special Forces: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression”, he revealed last summer.
So now as the student’s official representative on the University’s Senior Management Group, we have an economic libertarian who believes the state should be rolled back. If that’s how he feels about the United States, I can only imagine what he would make about Scotland’s free education, bursaries and the whole host of progressive politics the students of this University enjoy.
Snowden’s term also coincides with the 2016 Scottish Parliament election. Whether Scotland is independent or not in 2016, voters will be electing a new government with the control over education. If a government who is intent on ending free education, Education Maintenance Allowance or bursaries is elected, then who will stand on a national platform against this for the students of this University? As an absent rector, his influence is missing not only on Gilmore Hill, but in Holyrood too.
Edward Snowden’s election was a great statement against the NSA-style surveillance state. But once the media’s cameras left Bute Hall on election night, its novelty began to wear off.
We now have as Rector for three years someone who can’t perform their duties, someone far removed from the bulk of thought of the student body and someone who will not in any way be able to try and improve the lives of students here on campus. I think the 51% of students who voted as their first preference a ‘working Rector’ made the right choice.