Glasgow University is one of the top higher education institutions in the world. And with over 20,000 students from all over the world we have a very powerful voice. Edward Snowden’s revelation are indeed a global issue but they also affect each and every one of us every time we pick up our phones or turn on our laptops. If the students of this university choose to elect Edward Snowden it will be global news, just as his nomination was, and we will make our ourselves heard loud and clear at the highest levels of government that we reject pervasive state surveillance.
Edward Snowden has, by his actions, educated the whole world on the sinister surveillance programmes which are being run by the NSA and our own GCHQ. We, as students, should be very concerned about the implications these surveillance programmes have for the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech. And by electing Edward Snowden, we will forge a very powerful bond between him and Glasgow University. He has chosen to dedicate his life to speaking out against injustice and I can think of few more powerful advocates to have representing us to the world.
We do not pretend that Snowden will be a working rector. He may never be able to even set foot on campus. But when else will we be able to speak clearly on our opposition to pervasive state surveillance? Student representation takes many forms: from the Hetherington Occupation and protests of 2011 to our elected representatives on the SRC. In other words, we are more than capable of representing ourselves. And we must represent ourselves as an organised student body if we are to effectively resist fees, course closures and the increasing corporatization of our campus. I have no doubt that each of the other rectorial candidates would carry out the role of rector with commitment and diligence but we cannot, and should not, rely on those outside the student body to fight our battles for us. From Ross Kemp to Charles Kennedy’s inauspicious second term, we have been let down time and time again by working rectors whose tenure is characterised by absenteeism and complacency. By electing Edward Snowden we will speak clearly to a global audience and live up to our institution’s motto: Via, Veritas, Vita. We will reaffirm our reputation as students with concerns reaching far beyond campus and as students committed to the freedoms and liberties which are essential to our studies and lives beyond.
As you know, all rectorial candidates must consent to being nominated and Edward Snowden was no exception. We approached Edward through his lawyers in New York and he was delighted to accept the offer.
Between being nominated for rector and now, Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, been threatened with assassination, and all the while continuing to expose the scale and horror of the NSA’s spying and snooping. But, if elected, he will certainly be speaking with the students of Glasgow University. The prospect of Edward Snowden delivering the rectorial address is a very exciting one and we will be working very hard to make that happen.
It is not so much a question of need but rather one of want. We want Edward Snowden to be our rector because we want to speak out against pervasive state surveillance and show our support for his actions as a whistleblower. It is, ultimately, up to the students to decide. But we urge everyone who is concerned with pervasive state surveillance and the erosion of our basic right to privacy to join our campaign and help make Edward Snowden the next rector of the University of Glasgow.