Rector interview and analysis: Brace Belden

Published

Austen Shakespeare and Kate Snowdon
Reporter and Editor

[In lieu of an interview with Belden, we have received a press release from his campaign team, published below.]

In our view, the token position of rector does not give students meaningful influence on the functioning of our University. Indeed, this is reflected in the long-standing tradition of students in Glasgow to choose their rector based to signal support for international causes and issues. The previous elections of Winnie Mandela, Edward Snowden & Mordechai Vanunu show that students at the University realise the false nature of such limited representation, and instead often choose Rectors that reflect the views and wider political culture of the student body.

We chose Brace Belden as an example of a those fighting in Syria to build an egalitarian, socialist and feminist society in Rojava. This is not a protest candidature. Our campaign is to raise international awareness and consciousness of the struggle there against Da’esh [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], as well as the successes in that society in creating a democratic state in the Middle East based on the principles of self-management. A society in which refugees are welcome from throughout the region.

The election of Brace Belden would show that Glasgow University rejects the reactionary politics of the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, and refuse to be drawn into the managerial politics of the sort the University administration wants us to be content with. If we want radical and positive change on campus, students will have to create it ourselves, rather than expect it to be bestowed upon us from above

Analysis

Brace Belden’s policies are thin on the ground, understandably. The campaign focuses on Belden’s anti-fascist stance and his involvement in the Kurdish militia fighting against ISIS, and his press release makes it clear that he is knowingly nominated as a political absentee Rector.

It is unclear whether or not students would want another absentee Rector. Attitudes on campus appear to be in favour of a working Rector, but the chance to “reject… reactionary politics” is also one that will likely sit well with a large section of students. The campaign’s choice of nomineeto allegedly to raise awareness about ISIS, and issues in themiddle east, which is certainly a worthy cause.

As Belden would be a symbolic rector more than a practical administrator according to the campaignitself, it is hard to conclude in favour of a vote for him. Belden could gain some traction through sheer celebrity, and certainly stands a chance of election, but with changes to Higher Education governance, SRC organisation, and the looming campus redevelopment, perhaps there are issues closer to home than this campaign is looking that need addressing.