Three candidates have so far been put forward for the University of Glasgow's recently reopened position of Rector. The candidates proposed include Scottish lawyers Lady Hazel Cosgrove and Aamer Anwar, and YPG (People's Protection Unit) soldier Brace Belden.
Lady Cosgrove, 71, graduated with a law degree from the university in 1966, and became the first woman to be appointed to a permanent seat as a judge in the Court of Session in 1996. She was awarded an honorary LL.D. (Doctor of Law) from the university in 2002, and has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of institutions since. In 2004, Lady Cosgrove received a CBE for services to the criminal justice system in Scotland, and in 2006 she retired as a Senator of the College of Justice, but still occasionally sits on the bench when there is a shortage of judges.
Aamer Anwar, award-winning human rights lawyer and anti-racism campaigner, has also been nominated for the position of rector. Anwar is also a former University of Glasgow student, graduating in 2004 with an MA in Social Sciences. He has campaigned for the closure of the Dungavel immigration detention centre and, most recently, expressed his support for the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign to promote improved teaching of LGBTQ+ issues in schools. Commenting, Aamer Anwar said: “I’m honoured to be nominated for Rector of Glasgow University. Glasgow’s students deserve a working rector who’ll stand up for their interests – campaigning for more affordable student housing, better access to mental health counselling services and to protect the status of EU students and staff."
Brace Belden, member of the Kurdish militia and YPG fighter has also been nominated for the position. The People's Protection Units (YPG) is the militia of the Syrian Democratic Union Party, which primary focus is preventing the spread of Islamic State power. Belden, who is 27, started tweeting photos of the front shortly after arriving in Syria in October, and he has since amassed 19,000 followers under the handle ‘PissPigGranddad’. Before joining the YPG, Belden was a self-described ‘lumpenproletariat’, with an addiction to heroin. Once sober, he got involved in leftist causes, marching for tenants' rights, blocking evictions, and protesting police brutality. A recent post on the Facebook page entitled ‘Brace Belden for Rector of Glasgow University’ said: “That’s the nomination papers in. Let’s cause carnage.”
The nominations for Rector were reopened after none were received during the last six week nomination period. At an emergency SRC meeting on 14 February, the council voted to recommend the reopening of rector elections as soon as possible. The current Rector is Edward Snowden, who will leave office in April 2017.
Nominations for Rector of Glasgow University close at 12pm on Friday 3rd March.