Rector interview and analysis: Thomas Hind

Published

Jack Richardson
Writer
Interview

What do you understand of the role, and what would you bring to it if you were elected?
The Rector is the representative and the voice of the students on the University Court and I would be exactly that. I will make clear the views of the students to university management while adding my own input and interpretation on matters. It’ll be the voice of the students, but with my accent. I’ll also be saying the word “bawbag” a lot, so you’ve got that to look forward to.

Given your relatively young age, especially in comparison to some of the other candidates, what puts you in a better position to be Rector?
I don’t think age comes into it much if I’m honest. If anything, my young age is a benefit as I finished my studies only two and a half years ago which will give me a much fresher perspective on student issues than some of the other candidates. I’ve also stayed in regular contact with many students at the University and so have a good understanding of what’s been going on and the challenges currently facing the University. Maturity is what’s important rather than age. And I’m mature enough to understand how to work hard and get things done. And crucially, not be a bawbag. Unlike Milo. Who is definitely a bawbag.


In both your manifesto and on Twitter you’ve highlighted your dedication to fight to end sexual harassment on campus. Do you feel that this is a pertinent issue at Glasgow University, and how do you intend to deal with it?
I do definitely feel it is a pertinent issue. The very fact that someone like Milo could be nominated shows that there is still a long way to go for the University. A report in the Guardian last week showed extraordinarily high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assaults at universities across the country and there was an article in the Glasgow Guardian last yearshowing the shocking scale of sexism on our campus. This is a major issue for the University.

As Rector, I will work with the QMU, GUU and SRC to lobby management to increase the funding available to address this problem, improve education around sexual harassment and raise awareness of the services that already exist. I will also fight to stop the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment settlements against the University so the problem is no longer hidden away behind closed doors.

Do you feel that the humorous nature of your campaign is appropriate given the seriousness of the position and some of the reactions to other candidates? Does it undermine the election?
Wow, you really think I’m humorous? Honestly, I’m flattered. It’s good to know people out there think I’m funny. But seriously, humour is a great way to get students interested and engaged in the election and I think that’s hugely important. The only reason we’re having this election in the first place was that engagement was so low previously that no one was even nominated!

And I really do want to make the nachos on campus better. And I really do think that Milo is a bawbag, hence why I started #MiloIsABawbag. That’s why students need to get behind a candidate who will stand up against people like Milo and ensure he is #NotMyBawbag.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce a competition to find a new hashtag to describe Milo. Current candidates include #MiloIsABellEnd, #MiloIsAJizzStick and #MiloIsAReallyBadGuy. Entries can be tweeted to me @ThomasHind or sent to [email protected]

Stepping into the position following Edward Snowden, what improvements would you seek to make?
Well I wouldn’t spend all 3 years in Russia for a start. Maybe go there for a holiday but like 2 weeks max. I would be an active Rector, attending all meetings of University Court and holding regular Rector surgeries for students to raise issues with me. So much of the discussion around the issues affecting the University now take place online so I would continue to maintain a very active social media presence. I would also increase the use of digital channels of communication between the Rector and students, making it easier to raise concerns directly to the Rector, without needing to go to a surgery. This will be particularly helpful for the thousands of students that are based at Dumfries, are distance learners or simply don’t live near campus.

How would you plan to engage and interact with current and future students?
See above really. Aside from my regular surgeries, I’ll be tweeting them, talking to them and listening to [what] they have to say on Facebook, on Skype, via email, via Google Hangout. Hell, I may even start an Instagram if people are into that. Who doesn’t want to see the Rector’s snapchat? I also pledge to continue to be absolutely hilarious at all times.

In your manifesto you’ve said that you want to ensure that EU and international students feel welcome and included in the student community. What measures and action would you take to achieve this?
I think the best thing we can do right now is make sure we stand up together as a university and reject these far-right bigoted candidates and elect a Rector who we can all be proud of. Whether that’s me (it should be definitely be me) or one of the other candidates (but not one of them because it should be me), we need to make sure that we can say that Milo and his ilk are #NotMyRector and, more importantly, #NotMyBawbag.

Once we’ve done that and officially embraced inclusiveness and tolerance as an electorate, we need to work to improve attitudes on campus so something like this never happens again. To that end, once elected I will hold meetings and discussions with EU and international students to discuss their concerns and come up with solutions together to improve their experience at our wonderful university. In summary, I would be so great at this role. So great. The people will love me, they’ll be cheering in the streets, dancing even. And the quality of nachos on campus will be drastically improved, let me tell you. I’m the best at nachos, ask anyone. So Get Behind The Hind and Vote Thomas Hind #1 for Rector.

Analysis

Thomas Hind’s campaign has been built on a humorous and somewhat engaging manner, with his endorsement from Glasgow Stand Up and Sketch Society (GLASS) representing a reaction from the student body to the Rector nominations. His campaign is a mix of faux and fact, with pledges to tackle sexual harassment on campus, marred by repeated promises to call Milo Yiannopoulos a “bawbag”.

When pressed on his more serious manifesto points, he gave murmurs of promising rhetoric: he commits to speaking with international students, but with no real understanding of their needs this seems to be a manifesto filler rather than a substantive policy. His commitments to tackling sexual harassment on campus is a step in the right direction however. He has stated he would work with 3 student bodies (GUSA noticeably excluded) to lobby university management to increase funding for services, raise awareness of pre-existing services and improve education across the board. His fight to stop the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment settlements is a substantive commitment that sticks out in his manifesto.

As a recent graduate of Glasgow, he has a greater awareness of campus issues than some of the more well-known figures, but his lack of experience in employment beyond university is a clear drawback. Students want an experienced figurehead as Rector, and whilst Hind may bring fresh vigour to a role perhaps not properly fulfilled by Edward Snowden, a balance between youth and experience is perhaps more appropriate.

When pressed as to whether his campaign undermined the seriousness of the position, Hind stated that humour is a great way to engage students. Whilst this may be true, a candidate without real knowledge of the role nor substantial work experience beyond university means that he is perhaps not the ideal Rector for Glasgow. However, Hind does not take himself too seriously, and his remarks about Milo Yiannopoulos have made a wider impact; BuzzFeed News quoted him in a tagline concerning the Rector nominations. Whilst not the most credible candidate, he is certainly one of the more entertaining and engaging.