Editorial: Rita has gone missing

By Luke Chafer

The Rector should be one of the most important voices on campus, so why in a year of such turmoil has Rita Rae been mute?

This academic year has already been a struggle across the student population. From the housing crisis to the rising cost of living students have borne the brunt of a changing economic landscape. The extent to which the University has taken a duty-of-care approach is debatable with the burden of support often pushed onto the SRC. Yet there is one voice on campus that should be championing the causes of students. The Rector. 

This is the principal role of the rector. As such the rector is the statutory chair of the Court, which is the governing body of the University. Elected every three years by the student population, the rector should play a vital role in campus life. Since the first incumbent Robert Ramsey in 1648, a number of high-profile figures have occupied the office from Charles Kennedy to Winnie Mandela and Edward Snowden. The latter were elected as absentee rectors; elected by the student population to voice their support for a pertinent contemporary cause. The Honourable Lady Rita Rae was not; she promised to be a committed working rector in her manifesto. 

It is normally hard to substantiate the impact of a rector for holding the University to account however an assessment of the court notes from Rita’s time in office makes the conclusion rather easy. Since becoming rector there have been six court meetings. She was absent for a third of them. Beyond the preamble that lists attendees, it is hard to assess whether she is in attendance or not as she barely makes her presence known. During his time as rector Aamer Anwar, Rita Rae’s predecessor, raised issues of on-campus racism (6 months prior to the announcement of the Changing University Cultures report) and gender-based violence, for which we are currently waiting on an independent report. If we go back to 1971 Jimmy Reid, a trade unionist, delivered what has become known as the “rate race” speech at his inaugural rector’s address; an oration described by the New York Times, who published it in full, as the greatest speech since Lincoln Gettysburg address. 

Rita Rae – ” at present did not have any substantive items to raise with Court”, was what she told the Court in November 2021 and September 2021. At the time that Lady Rita Rae had nothing “substantive to raise” international students were being told to go home, rising student numbers meant that freshers were being housed in Paisley and the degrees of abuse investigation was published with two cases of gender-based violence at the University of Glasgow being exposed but then again there was nothing “substantive to raise.” 

The current line attributed to Lady Rita Rae in the Court minutes is that: “The Rector highlighted that she continued to work with individual students to provide support and help find resolutions were possible.” Yet surgery’s have been few and far between, with one not being hosted so far this academic year and one last year being cancelled after she inadvertently asked students to cross the UCU picket line. 

Part of the challenge is that Honourable Lady Rita Rae is still a sitting judge in part due to a covid backlog. Balancing work and the position is often a challenge. In 2000 sitting Rector Ross Kemp resigned, saying that “work pressures… have overtaken me and made it impossible for me to fulfil my obligations in the way I would have liked.”

Her guiding principle of being an “active impartial rector” should have always been a red flag. Lady Rita Rae is an esteemed judge yet applying the same impartiality completely misunderstands the role she has assumed. The role should be the student’s prosecuting lawyer holding the University accountable. However, just turning up would be a start. 

If you have seen Rita please do get in touch. 


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In Lady Rita Rae’s defence, I have tried to contact her, but Anton Muscatelli’s methodologies seek to prevent genuine concerns reaching her.and seek to provide a false impression. I’m sorry you were in a position of being cagolled into writing this, as you appear pleasant. Of not Anton Muscatelli uses services to provide for barriers in people’s lives that provide for conduct that is then misrepresented. She was brought into the arms of the University family for his purposes, this being to provide a false impression. She was and is a stalwart and a ⭐ star. Understanding the approach of ‘sir’ Anton is crucial. He does not play fair.