In the aftermath of American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s election as Glasgow University’s rector, there has been a swathe of disgust, frustration and downright condescension posted on social media sites by students. These range from individual posts lamenting a loss of faith in the student body as a whole, to Facebook pages already campaigning for a vote of no-confidence in the rector (because you know, the exercising of democratic rights is only valid when done in agreement with your own point of view).
I’ve also noticed the assumption that all who voted for Snowden are either some weirdy-hippy-liberal types or simply just voting for the lolz. Without delving too deep into how ridiculous and snobby these views are, I certainly don’t consider myself, nor other Snowden supporters I know, to be either, despite my strong support of the campaign to elect Snowden as rector.
Many of those against Snowden’s election cite their belief that, particularly in light of the current issues facing students on campus, the presence of a working rector is vital. Whilst maybe a simplistic (or ignorant) view of the work done by the current rector, as an average student with no real knowledge of the workings of the University Court,I find myself questioning the assumption that a working rector will automatically do a better job.
Having said all this, even if I was completely sold on the importance of a working rector, my support would still have been behind the Snowden campaign. I view the election of Snowden as a sign that the students here are willing to take a wider view than just our own immediate interests, and instead willing to prioritise the problems that face us globally. Many write off the election (and even the actions of Snowden himself) as a publicity stunt. I’d tend to agree. It was a publicity stunt of the best kind, designed to act as a continuing reminder of the illegal, intrusive actions that governments around the world take every day against their citizens.