A third year International Relations student who has lived in Texas since the age of 10, Ms Newman is the former editor of The Stand and a member of the St Andrews Fellowship. She was Ms Stihler’s campaign manager before securing the role of rector’s assessor and it was her who put Ms Stihler’s name forward for the role. As Assessor, Ms Newman will be working alongside Catherine Stihler, the fifty-second rector of the University. She will sit on the University Court and be in charge of aiding and advising the rector.
For Ms Newman the role basically involves organising Ms Stihler’s schedule whenever she is in St Andrews. “I am the person that people can go through to get [in touch with Ms Stihler].” For example, shortly after Ms Stihler’s appointment – during what was supposed to be campaign week she set up meetings for her with the heads of societies.
Competition for the role “was competitive”, she said, but “I am grateful that I will be able to work with [Ms Stihler] over the coming years.”
The last two rector’s assessors Chloe Hill and Pat Mathewson have used the role to help them in their successful campaigns to become President of the Students’ Association. Does Ms Newman have the same ambitions? “I have not really thought about it. I am only in third year, which gives me time, but I am not sure. I think my family would kill me because I think that they think that I will never come home,” she said.
Ms Newman talked about the experience of getting Ms Stihler ready for the election. “There was a group of around 13 of us and everyone on the campaign team was incredible. Without them I would be significantly less sane and [Ms Stihler] and I would be so much less prepared for the rest of her term.”
“It was a shame that we did not run the campaign,” she added. “Neither of us thought that she would run unopposed and we were both very surprised.”
When asked about the controversy over the lack of an election and the opportunity to vote RON, Ms Newman said that she was surprised. “Neither of us knew that she would run unopposed and we didn’t know that the rule existed. I think there should still have been an election, so does [Ms Stihler].
“Hopefully we can change this by the end of her term,” she said.At the last Students’ Representative Council meeting, a motion was passed to petition the University Court to set in motion a process to change clause 19 of the Rectorial Elections rules.
Clause 19 currently states that in the event of only one candidate being nominated, that candidate will be automatically appointed to the position without an election. This is what happened in the case of Ms Stihler.
When asked about what her relationship with Ms Stihler will be like, Ms Newman seemed very excited
about the prospect of working with her: “[Ms Stihler] is great. I talk to her everyday, actually more, we talk everyday on the phone. She has already sent me up her schedule for next semester. She will be up here
all the time, which is great; she will even be attending a ball. She is really keen to be active in the student body,
more so than Alastair Moffat.” There is a clear sense of a very amicable working relationship between the pair. Ms Newman discussed what they will be working on together: “We are working on three main areas: the alumni, the accommodation problem and the access. [Ms Stihler] knows what she wants to do and will do anything to achieve those aims.”
When asked about the legacy Ms Stihler hopes to leave, Ms Newman said: “This is going to sound lame but [Ms Stihler] really loves St Andrews. Her second child is named Andrew after here; it’s really cute. “She only wants the best for the students. She is a lovely person and all of her intentions come form a lovely place.”
Ms Stihler was a student at the University herself before becoming president of the Students’ Association. “It is nice, she loves this place and it was funny to walk around with her and see where she lived when she was a student here.”
Asked about the student participation with regards to the Rectorial Elections, Ms Newman said: “I think with all of the good work that [Ms Stihler] will do people will start to recognise how important the role of rector is.”
Referring to the Students’ Association Elections she added: “I think that it is really cool because in the elections in March we had the highest turn out of students voting in the UK. Representation is really important around election time as people are interested in what is happening and it was a shame that we didn’t manage to have an election; but hopefully this will be fixed.
“I’m really excited to get down to work with [Ms Stihler] and the rest of the Rector’s Committee and really thankful for the opportunity to do so. I’m really excited to see what the next three years bring!”