An Interview With Kevin Holdsworth

Why did you decide to run for the position?

I decided to run for the position of Rector because one of the students in the University asked me to do it. I care a lot about higher education and about students themselves and when I looked into it, was sure that I had the skills needed.

How do you hope to help students at Glasgow?
If a university has a working Rector then students have a direct line to those who make the most important decisions. It means that student concerns can be built into the planning processes of the university. This means that some short term fixes can be applied to issues that students raise but more importantly, when the university plans for the future the issues that concern students most can be addressed. For example, student safety and security should always be a very high consideration when planning new buildings or making alterations to the campus.

Do you think you are able and have the correct skills to represent students from all political, religious, sexual and social backgrounds?
One of the things that my job gives me is experience of working with people from a huge range of social backgrounds. I regularly have to deal with high-powered decision makers on the same day that I’m dealing with people who are homeless or looking for help with the most basic things. I try never to forget when I’m with people who have power to raise the concerns of those who don’t. Sometimes I’ve been able to add my voice in the national media to those working against poverty and government cuts. It is particularly important at the moment to highlight and challenge all attempts to dismantle the benefits system. I’ve publicly taken a stand against doctors in the NHS assessing people’s immigration status before treating them.

My job also brings me into contact with people from all around the world. This has given me insights into the particular needs of international students. I enjoy meeting people of other world faiths but am also committed to working towards a secular state where people of all faiths or of no faith have equal opportunities.

I work as an out gay man in a job which has often not welcomed LGBT people. I’ve learned from that experience how important it is to challenge prejudice wherever it is found.  I’ve worked and campaigned within my profession for gender equality and am pleased that progress has been made but frustrated by how long that is taking.

What would you like to achieve if elected?
I would like every student to know where to turn for help when they need it. It can be difficult to know how to make a huge institution change and take on board your own ideas. The Rector is often someone who can link people up – putting people in touch with those who can deal with their issues. Taking a long term view, it is also possible for a working Rector to be able to provide some continuity in arguing for students’ issues by working with elected SRC officers to ensure that issues are not simply forgotten when their own shorter term of office is finished.

What makes you different from the three other candidates?
I am standing on a very clear ticket as a local, working Rector. I live in the West End of Glasgow within walking distance of the University. That means I can be a particularly hands-on rector. I’ve also previously worked in several universities and that gives me a huge head start in knowing how higher education institutions function. I know how to get the answers to problems in a university and already have experience in encouraging university principals to listen to student needs. This is at the heart of what a Rector can do.

I’ve also got a lot of experience of campaigning – most recently this has been campaigning in favour of Equal Marriage, something that I’m delighted has gone through the Scottish Parliament. I conducted the first same-sex blessing in the University of Glasgow’s memorial chapel and am hugely proud to have done so.

With all that experience of higher education and of campaigning, I know that I would be a working Rector who would turn up and make a difference.

And finally, what do you think is/are the most important issue/s students face at this university?
All of the issues that I’m highlighting in this campaign are issues which have been brought up by students. I’m also still collecting issues to raise if elected via the website and facebook page The issues highlighted so far include getting the university to sort out MyCampus and deal with outstanding issues over registration, overcrowding in the library and elsewhere, work to enable Chinese students to integrate and make friends, too many mistakes by Central Room Bookings meaning that there’s double bookings for lectures and student societies, better solutions to disabled access – particularly in dealing with the hill to the library, more space for mature students and ensuring that Wednesday afternoons are kept free in the timetable for sports fixtures, societies and volunteering.

The University of Glasgow needs a working rector to bring issues like this to the attention of the university administration. That’s why I’m standing in this election.

-Joseph Meaden

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