My Rector

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At last week’s SRC meeting I volunteered to give up a week of paid holiday for this week so that I could endorse and campaign for a rectorial candidate. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at someone in, or running for, a position of power and thought: “they genuinely inspire me”. But that is exactly what I’m able to say about this candidate. We’ve all been let down so many times by those we elect or who are appointed to lead us. But I believe I have met a man who will follow through on the promise of his candidacy and who will inspire students across St Andrews as he has inspired me. It is for this reason that I am endorsing Alistair Moffat for Rector of the University of St Andrews.

I don’t think I truly appreciated the importance of the Rector until I became a sabbatical officer. The sabs might be the voice of the students, but the Rector makes sure that voice is heard. For example, I doubt that Patrick and I would have even been allowed to put a proposal to the University Court advocating lower fees had it not been for the help of Kevin Dunion.

This should not be a time to vote in protest or simply on the basis of fame. Indeed, I believe it would lead to students and student representation being taken less seriously. It’s no secret that not everyone in the university or Scottish government believes we should even have an elected Rector. If we do not elect someone who will fight fearlessly and tirelessly for the issues and rights of students, forgoing personal or business advancement or partisan political beliefs in favour of the student interests, then we could lose the Rector altogether.

After spending a considerable amount of time reviewing, advising and getting to know every candidate who approached me, I feel it would be a betrayal of my own election promises not to speak out on this issue.

So what do I want from a Rector? It comes down to three things: Someone who will make the student voice heard at the highest level. This means a Rector who understands the complexities of the issues facing higher education. But this must also be someone who has the gravitas to earn the respect of Court but will also act as a genuine counterbalance to the bankers and businessmen who make up most of its membership. I believe Alistair’s experience as working at the highest levels of politics and higher education, without being chained to either the left or the right, makes him ideal to do this.

I’m looking for someone who will commit the time and effort to understanding student issues and engaging with student activities. I have spoken to many potential rectors over the summer, from a former Attorney General to a world famous journalist, to a football manager, and the time and engagement required was always the part of the job they could not commit to. And yet it is a part which is absolutely essential. Alistair is the only one of the candidates now standing who took the time formally talk to sabs and other student representatives and get to grips with student issues before making the decision to stand.

Finally, I’m looking for someone who can genuinely inspire and unite the student community. All of the great Rectors, from J.M. Barrie to John Cleese, have been great because they have done this. With wealth now playing an ever greater role in one’s choice of, chance at, or success in university, it would be easy for the student community to succumb to our fault lines. We, as students, face enormous challenges, but we have shown that, at our best, we can face them united. I’m looking for someone who will stand alongside us and give St Andrews’ student community the support to be our best. It is my firm belief that Alistair Moffat is the only person for the job.

This is the only article concerning Rectorial candidates that was received by Viewpoint. The Saint does not endorse any one candidate above the others.

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